THE WAGES OF SIN, ER WAGES FOR SIN – PATRIARCH KIRILL PRESENTS STATE DUMA WITH INITIAL PRAYER OFFERING (IPO)

By John Helmer, Moscow

When His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (lead image, left) made a speech to the State Duma last week, it was both more, and less,  than a case of preaching to the converted.

This is because investigations by the Central Bank, the Deposit Insurance Agency of Russia, a handful of Russian reporters and whistleblower churchmen have revealed evidence that the Church has been operating elaborate schemes for converting state funds into private profits, causing a string of Church-controlled banks to go into bankruptcy,  and then into state-funded bailouts.  Taxpayer and state budget funds, and cash belonging to state corporations, have been moved through deposits in these banks, supervised by the patriarch himself, into political donations to United Russia and other groups of parliamentary deputies; into construction contracting at church properties; and into related-party loans and investments which have disappeared offshore, never to be recovered or repaid. 

Of six Russian banks in which the Church has large shareholdings and control stakes since 1995, five have gone bust; been delicensed by the Central Bank; or been charged with criminal fraud, embezzlement and money-laundering offences. In three of the most recent Church bank insolvencies, Vneshprombank (VPB) in October 2016, Peresvet in December 2016, and Ergobank two weeks ago, the gap between assets and liabilities is already believed to be at least Rb 300 billion ($5.1 billion).  State auditors are expecting to count more money lost in the black hole. That is more money than Kirill is asking the State Duma to refinance for the Church from the 2016 budget, Central Bank reserves, and capital of the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA).

The deputies of United Russia, the majority party in parliament, aren’t saying no; they aren’t inquiring either.  (more…)

PSYCHOLOGY BECOMES LAW — OR IS IT BIBLE BASHING? OR ANOTHER CASE OF THE RUSSIAN BEAST?

By John Helmer, Moscow

A new campaign against the Russian devil has started in the US and UK media where the Hillary Clinton-for-President forces are strongest. The problem for them this time is that President Vladimir Putin is on the side of the angels. But he is unwilling to stop a power play by the Russian Orthodox Church.  Four out of five Russians, and an even higher number of Russian women, would back Putin if he did. (more…)

CYPRUS PRESIDENT NICOS ANASTASIADES UNDER PRESSURE, GOES UNDER COVER WITH A DEAL FOR HIMSELF AND ALMOST EVERYONE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (lead images, left) has come under intense political and personal pressure to agree to terms of settlement for the future of Cyprus, swapping Turkish military occupation for European Union rights for all Turkish immigrants to the island — the former to be implemented over years; the latter to become effective immediately.  

The sensitivity of that deal, Cypriot, Greek and US sources said this week, is such a political bombshell  for Anastasiades seeking re-election in a year’s time that he wouldn’t be risking detonation, if not for a personal vulnerability he is facing at the same time.

Two New York Supreme Court releases this month reveal that  emails between Nicos Anastasiades’s family law firm and a wealthy Russian client, Leonid Lebedev (left lead, right side), were withheld when Anastasiades’s partner, Theofanis (Theophanis) Philippou, testified in a Cyprus court recently. Philippou has been one of Lebedev’s personal lawyers in Cyprus, and he has made official records of this. Anastasiades was also Lebedev’s adviser at the law firm and at the Imperium group of companies, which Philippou and Anastasiades operated to  manage their clients’ corporate business, personal trusts, and cashflow. Their relationships with Lebedev predate Anastasiades becoming president of Cyprus in February 2013.

It is that record which Philippou was ordered by the New York and Cyprus courts to produce. It is their sensitivity for the president now that has led to a cover-up.

(more…)

MIKHAIL FRIDMAN AND GREGORY SHENKMAN – THE ODD COUPLE AT WORK, AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Mikhail Fridman (lead image, left) has enough problems not to want to make his position worse in the US, Europe and Russia – all at the same time.

There have been recent protests outside Fridman’s Alfa Bank branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, as well as inside the State Duma in Moscow, accusing Fridman of helping to finance the troops of the Kiev regime in combat on the Novorussian front.

Fridman’s Russian telecommunications company Vimpelcom – headquartered in Amsterdam, listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York – has been under close supervision by US Government inspectors as part of an anti-corruption settlement of its activities in Uzbekistan a year ago. Then last week in Madrid, Fridman and Vimpelcom were reported to be under joint US-Spanish investigation for a fraudulent takeover attempt at the Spanish telecommunications and games provider, ZED+; and allegedly for paying bribes through ZED+ companies in Russia to associates of the current Russian Interior Minister, Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

The former chief executive of Vimpelcom Russia, Mikhail Slobodin, is in hiding, on the run from a  corruption indictment filed in the Russian courts last September. 

Fridman’s LetterOne holding has announced from London it will not be investing in Russia in future, and prefers the US instead. “It’s too risky,” Fridman told Bloomberg  last year. 

So why have the risk-averse Fridman and the fugitive Slobodin engaged the San Francisco-based, Russian-speaking Ukrainian Gregory Shenkman (lead image, right) when Shenkman is currently facing multiple court claims in Pennsylvania,  Delaware,  and California for millions of dollars in unpaid debts, alleged embezzlement, and sexual harassment?  Sources in California and also in Italy,  where Shenkman has been seen in recent days, claim Fridman needs the American “to hustle for the next generation of data applications technology — apps — to install on telephone devices and revive growth of revenues and profits. Shenkman is part of Fridman’s business shift out of Russia. But like ZED+, Shenkman is a big risk in the US.” (more…)

VICTIM OR AGGRESSOR – CHRYSTIA FREELAND’S FAMILY RECORD FOR NAZI WAR PROFITEERING, AND MURDER OF THE CRACOW JEWS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Chrystia Freeland (lead image), appointed last week to be the new Canadian Foreign Minister, claims that her maternal family were the Ukrainian victims of Russian persecution, who fled their home in 1939, after Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin agreed on a non-aggression pact and the division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union. She claims her mother was born in a camp for refugees  before finding safe haven in Alberta, Canada. Freeland is lying.     

The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland’s maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo)  Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war. He was given a powerful post, money, home and car by the German Army in Cracow, then the capital of the German administration of the Galician region. His principal job was editor in chief and publisher of a newspaper the Nazis created. His printing plant and other assets had been stolen from a Jewish newspaper publisher, who was then sent to die in the Belzec concentration camp.  During the German Army’s winning phase of the war, Chomiak celebrated in print the Wehrmacht’s “success” at killing thousands of US Army troops. As the German Army was forced into retreat by the Soviet counter-offensive, Chomiak was taken by the Germans to Vienna, where he continued to publish his Nazi propaganda, at the same time informing for the Germans on other Ukrainians. They included fellow Galician Stepan Bandera, whose racism against Russians Freeland has celebrated in print, and whom the current regime in Kiev has turned into a national hero.

Just before Vienna fell to the Soviet forces in March 1945, Chomiak evacuated with the German Army into Germany, ending up near Munich at Bad Worishofen.  On September 2, 1946, when Freeland says her mother was born in a refugee camp, she was actually in a well-known spa resort for wealthy Bavarians.  The US Army then controlled that part of Germany; they operated an Army hospital at Bad Worishofen and accommodated Chomiak at a spa hotel.  US Army records have yet to reveal what the Americans learned about Chomiak’s war record, and how he was employed by US Army Intelligence, after he had switched from the Wehrmacht.  It took Chomiak another two years before the government in Ottawa allowed the family to enter Canada.

The reason the Polish Government is now investigating Freeland is that Chomiak’s wartime record not only victimized Galician Jews, but also the Polish citizens of Cracow.  In a salute to Freeland as a “great friend of Poland” by the Polish Embassy in Ottawa last week, Warsaw officials now believe a  mistake was made.   (more…)

WHEN GOING TO BED WITH DOGS IS NEWS, GETTING UP WITH FLEAS IS A SCOOP – HERE’S THE ONE ABOUT TRUMP’S BED, PUTIN’S BED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Almost everyone goes to bed at night. Some get up to urinate.  The older, less continent ones can’t get up easily, so they urinate on themselves. If properly cared for, they do so in what is known in the geriatric product market as roll-ups.

A small minority arrange to be urinated upon by others, though not usually on the bed they aim to sleep in.  This may be an erotic pleasure for you, a perversion to the next man. The name for it is Golden Showers.  If conducted between consenting adults, it’s not a crime.  Paying for it may be a crime, depending on the local law on procuring. In the Russian criminal code it’s not a felony but a misdemeanour with a fine so small it usually isn’t enforced by the police; certainly not in expensive big-city hotels.

A claim is being widely reported in the US media which supported Hillary Clinton for president that President-elect Donald Trump paid for at least two ladies to urinate on the bed in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel of Moscow. A former British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) agent named  Christopher Steele  has reported the episode in a memorandum dated June 20, 2016, because  he was paid by a US client to do it;  and also because he was paid to speculate that the Russian Security Service (FSB) filmed it, and has been blackmailing Trump ever since.

Trump has responded that Steele is a “failed spy”. That is not an impetuous tweet. It’s the assessment of both US and British intelligence agencies, including MI6, for which Steele worked undercover in Moscow between 1994 and 1996. His cover was blown; he was evacuated; and as British intelligence sources  report this week, Steele has been unable to enter Russia for a decade. “No Russian with official links and knowledge would risk communicating with Steele for fear of being detected by Russian counter-intelligence,” said an intelligence source in London, Said another: “I met [Steele] a couple of times and thought that for a relatively undistinguished man who never made very senior rank he was a smug, arrogant s.o.b.  So I don’t work with him. The description of his being the top expert on Russia in MI6 is bollocks. ”

The story of the Obama-Trump bed, according to Steele, comes from 2013. Another story, the one of the Putin bed on which Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had sex with a prostitute in Rome, dates from 2009.  The true part has been verified with a tape the lady made of Berlusconi boasting about the source of the bed as he exercised himself on it. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Putin then and now, says the Trump-Obama bed story is “a complete fake. It’s total nonsense.” But about the Putin-Berlusconi bed, he said at the time: “We reject this information. I am not in a position to explain.” In short, that bedtime story may be true. (more…)

CHRYSTIA FREELAND IS THE BODY DOUBLE – CANADA PLAYS HILLARY CLINTON CARD AT RUSSIA; KREMLIN SUSPECTS FREELAND PUTSCH AGAINST JUSTIN TRUDEAU

By John Helmer, Moscow

Chrystia Freeland, a leading figure in the Ukrainian and Canadian campaigns against Russia, was promoted last week in Ottawa to become Canada’s foreign minister. She is now one step away in her plan to replace Justin Trudeau as prime minister, sources in Ottawa, Washington, and Moscow report.

There was a hitch in the plan, though. Freeland had been hoping for a senior ministry when Trudeau took power in November 2015. Instead, he gave her the low-ranked international trade portfolio to keep her out of Canada as often as possible.  Freeland then counted on Hillary Clinton to win the US presidential election last November, in order to persuade Trudeau she had better relationships in the coming Washington administration than the incumbent foreign minister, Stéphane Dion.  The election of Donald Trump, with whom Freeland has no relationship and no agreement either, disappointed but didn’t deter her.

Trudeau has also accepted the Freeland scheme, and also for a Clinton reason. Trudeau will be safer in the prime ministry, Ottawa sources believe, if Freeland follows the Clinton role model into public acrimony, private hysteria, then defeat. (more…)

WE ARE BACK, AGAIN – ONLY THREE YEARS TO GO BEFORE THE PROFESSION OF JOURNALISM DISAPPEARS ENTIRELY

By John Helmer, Moscow

Three years ago precisely, on January 12, 2014 – just before the Anglo-American war against Russia began in earnest — we reported that the Moscow School of Management at Skolkovo was publishing  what it called  a market atlas of the jobs and professions which will be newly needed by the year 2020, and those to be needed no longer. One of the new ones was what the Skolkovo atlas called  a cyber-cleaner (кибердворник). This is a specialist in removing from the internet and all digital data archives whatever information someone pays to have cleaned or deleted entirely, and its substitution with what the specialist is paid to put there – fake news, kompromat, disinformation, PR, advertising, fraud.  One of the professions the cyber-cleaners will replace, according to the atlas, is journalism(more…)

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

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RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

(more…)

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

(more…)

THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

(more…)

RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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KILLING IS CHEAPER — THE US ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WEAPONIZES TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, WHATSAPP, TELEGRAM

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.

The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory.  The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image).   McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.

Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

(more…)

MARIA YUDINA OUT OF THE DARK – THE RUSSIAN CLASSICAL PIANIST PLAYS AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.

In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.

(more…)
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