THE STRANGE CASES OF DMITRIJ HARDER AND ANDREY RYJENKO AT THE EUROPEAN BANK OF RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT –- HOW GOVERNMENTS DECIDE WHEN BENDING THE RULES ISN’T BREAKING THE LAW

By John Helmer, Moscow

Two men, Dmitrij Harder and Andrey Ryjenko, have been convicted in parallel proceedings in a US court and a UK court of arranging and receiving bribes in business transactions with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

After several postponements over a year, Harder will be sentenced in US District Court in Philadelphia on July 18. On June 20, in the Central Criminal Court in London, Ryjenko was sent to prison for six years. A Crown prosecutor claimed: “Andrey Ryjenko repeatedly abused his position of power within a publicly-funded bank by accepting corrupt payments.”  She added that without the US prosecution of Harder, his guilty plea, and agreement to cooperate in testifying against  Ryjenko, there would have been no case. “This conviction was made possible through effective cross-border partnerships between a number of jurisdictions, including the United States.”

The UK lawyers who represented Ryjenko, barrister Jeffrey Chapman QC and solicitor Jessica Skinns of Bindmans, refuse to answer questions about the case, and will not release the evidence they presented in court.  But lawyers who have reviewed the case in the UK and US say there was a loophole in the law on which the prosecution of both men has been based. US lawyers admit they didn’t know of it when they were arguing their case in Philadelphia a year ago that the charges against Harder should be dropped.

Court testimony in London and statements from the EBRD also reveal there has  been a cover-up of intelligence agency involvement in the two cases, and political intervention in the longstanding conflict between the US government and other governments on the EBRD board and the bank management over how much, or how little money the bank should lend to and invest in Russia. (more…)

EBRD CORRUPTION – MI5 TRIES TO EXCHANGE BRIBES TO RUSSIAN BANKERS FOR ESPIONAGE AGAINST RUSSIAN OFFICIALS

By John Helmer, Moscow

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the government-owned bank established in London in 1991 to finance market boosting projects in the former Soviet Union, has been secretly aiding UK and US intelligence services in espionage targeted at Russia. The US is a 10% shareholder in the bank, the UK holds an 8.7% stake; Russia, 4%.

The disclosure appears in the records of a trial this month at the Central Criminal Court in London of Andrei Ryjenko (Рыженко, usually Anglicized as Ryzhenko),  a senior banker at the EBRD who is a dual Russian-British citizen.  Early in June, Ryjenko was convicted of taking and then laundering $3.5 million in concealed bribes for helping applications to the EBRD for loans and equity investments from two Russian oil and gas companies win approval for a total of $275 million. MI5, according to testimony in open court, offered Ryjenko the opportunity to keep his money and avoid prosecution if he agreed to spy for the British against Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) agents who, MI5 told Ryjenko, were under cover in London. Ryjenko refused for several months. He was then arrested and subsequently tried. On June 20, Ryjenko was sentenced to six years in jail.

Treason against Russia was one crime Ryjenko refused to undertake, the Old Bailey testimony reveals.  Also revealed, and for the first time, is EBRD’s role in operating the scheme of lures and inducements MI5 proposed for Ryjenko,  and other Russian nationals at the bank.  “Honey traps,”  comments a London banking veteran, “are generally illegal. Otherwise, the honey wouldn’t be so sweet, or entrapment worth plotting. It looks like Ryjenko trapped himself. It also looks like the bank was happy to make its money baiting the trap for MI5.”   

The EBRD spokesman, Anthony Williams, was asked to clarify the court testimony that the EBRD cooperates with MI5 to permit EBRD executives and EBRD records to be used in espionage operations against EBRD shareholders. “This refers to claims made during the trial”, Williams said on Monday, “that were not deemed credible by the court and which are rejected by the EBRD. EBRD does not cooperate with MI5 and other British and US intelligence agencies.”

Williams was unable to produce statements by the presiding judge, dismissing the MI5 evidence.  “I can only repeat: The EBRD does not cooperate with such intelligence services.” (more…)

THE CRIMINAL CASE OF SERGEI MASLOV – PROTÉGÉ OF GENNADY TIMCHENKO, BAD DEBTOR, OR FALL GUY?

By John Helmer, Moscow

When it happened eight months ago, the arrest of little known public works contractor Sergei Vladimirovich Maslov (lead image, right) made a sensational bang. The outcome, eight months later, is a silent ringing one; that’s ringing as in Russian telephone justice.  

At his palatial home at Arkhangelskoye, outside Moscow, on October 19, Maslov refused to let the police in, so they used sledge hammers on his front door before they took him away. A commercial television company chartered a helicopter to fly slowly over the mansion to film its tennis court, guest house, banya, servants’ quarters, garages and gardens. The cameras were invited in to film Maslov’s rooms and make an inventory of his closets, shoes, safes, as well as the objets d’art on the walls. His garage was opened to reveal several luxury autos. Pictures of Maslov’s motor yacht, berthed somewhere in Italy, surfaced in print

The message was that Maslov was very rich.  But the charge against him was that he was only slightly  crooked. He has been charged with defrauding a bank which had gone bust two years earlier of Rb1 billion ($16 million). Also arrested and charged was an accomplice, Vladimir Karamanov. He let the police into his home when they knocked; his face and possessions haven’t been displayed on television. The two men were flown by police to Rostov-on-Don; held on remand for a month; and then released in November to go home, purportedly under house arrest.

This week the Leninsky District Court of Rostov-on-Don  refuses to say if there is a continuing arrest order for either Maslov or his property; if a new hearing has been scheduled;  or if the prosecutors have dropped the case.  Lawyers for Maslov refuse to say what the status of the charges against Maslov are, or if there remains any case for him to answer. These are signals that whoever ordered the police into action last October has decided enough is enough.

Sources who know the players and their businesses agree Maslov was targeted by someone much richer and more powerful, who also sponsored the press coverage. The sources say Maslov’s recent business has been tied to Gennady Timchenko (lead image, left); so the sources are divided in their suspicion between Timchenko and his rival in the gas business, Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft. According to one source, “either it was a pressure from Timchenko & Co. to extract money from Maslov, who pretended to be a Timchenko man and grabbed more than he was entitled to. Or it’s one of the battle fronts of the silent war between Sechin and Timchenko over new gas production and Novatek. To me, it looks like the first scenario. Timchenko initiated the arrest. Under pressure Maslov agreed to return money. Charges have been softened or dropped.”

This morning in Moscow Timchenko categorically denies both. (more…)

EVERYONE POSES – A GUIDE FROM A STATE DEPARTMENT WARFIGHTER AND A US NAVY WAR COLLEGE CONSULTANT ON WHY RUSSIANS WHO CRAVE AMERICAN LOVE DESERVE IT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Deep in the inner recesses of the Kremlin there is a Russian group who crave to be loved by the American Establishment. For them shaking the hands of stuntman Steven Seagall or boxer Roy Jones Jr. – recent recipients of celebrity Russian passports — or of moviemaker Oliver Stone, doesn’t quite cut it. 

So they draw large sums of money from the Russian state budget to media studios like RT, talk-shops like the Valdai Discussion Club,  and think-tanks like the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy to host the conferences and banquets at which they can ingratiate themselves with their American inamorati – and most importantly, be seen to be loved in this fashion by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.  For they, too, want to be loved.

The Russian demand for American love potions extends with special keenness to US warfighters against Russia, and US spies against Russia. (more…)

MICHAEL CHOMIAK VOLUNTEERED FOR HITLER BEFORE UKRAINE WAS INVADED AND WAS HUNTED BY THE POLISH POLICE UNTIL THE 1980s – CHRYSTIA FREELAND’S FAMILY LIE GROWS BIGGER AND BLACKER

By John Helmer, Moscow

German military records have been found in a Polish government archive in Warsaw revealing that Michael Chomiak (lead image, left), maternal grandfather of Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (right), volunteered to serve in the German invasion of Poland long before the German Army attacked the Soviet Union and invaded Ukraine.  

Chomiak’s records show he was trained in Vienna for German espionage and propaganda operations, then promoted to run the German press machine for the Galician region of Ukraine and Poland during the 4-year occupation. So high-ranking and active in the Nazi cause was Chomiak that the Polish intelligence services were actively hunting for Chomiak until the 1980s – without knowing he had fled for safety to an Alberta farm in Canada.

The newly disclosed documents expose Freeland’s repeated lying that Chomiak had been a victim of  World War II; an unwilling journalist overpowered by German military force;  compelled to write propaganda extolling the German Army’s successes, and advocating the destruction of the Jews, Poles and Russians. As for Freeland’s claim that Chomiak had secretly aided the Ukrainian resistance, sources in Warsaw believe Chomiak was trained by the Germans as a double-agent,penetrating Ukrainian groups and spying on them. 

The Polish records also point to the likelihood that US Army, US intelligence and Canadian immigration records on Chomiak – concealed until now – can confirm in greater detail what Chomiak did during the war, as well as for years afterward, which made him a target for the Polish police until not long before his death in 1984. (more…)

PRESIDENT PUTIN’S HOMILY ON ATHEISM, POLITICS, AND PROPERTY

 

By John Helmer, Moscow

Mystery moves in a godly way, wonders to perform. Even on state television, in Russia’s secular democracy.    

President Vladimir Putin (lead image, right) was taken by surprise, he said yesterday, by the first question ever asked during his annual Direct Line national broadcast about the affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill (left). Ivan Bratsev, identifying himself as a worker at the state-owned Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, asked Putin about the future of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the 180-year old city landmark.

There is no mystery about that because the transfer, demanded by the patriarch, of the cathedral from state control to the Russian Orthodox Church has been bitterly protested in the city for months, and reported widely in the national media.  The wonder was performed by Putin in his answer. (more…)

VLADIMIR YEVTUSHENKOV IS JOHNNY APPLESEED – RUSSIAN APPLE OLIGARCHS GROW IN THE DARK

By John Helmer, Moscow

Johnny Appleseed, an eighteenth century nurseryman and orchardist, is honoured in his American homeland for being a patriotic soldier in the  war against the British, and for going barefooted in the mission of Jesus Christ to convert the native Indians, whose tribal lands he enriched with apple nurseries.  It’s the job he did for apples that has given him his nickname. When he died, his estate amounted to 490 hectares of apple orchards.

What is less well-known is that because grafting was against Johnny’s religious conviction, the apples he produced were prone to disease and good only for pressing into alcoholic cider, sauce for roast pork, and baked apple-pies.  In Russia the first two are unheard of. Porvidlo (Повидло)  and charlotte (Яблочная шарлотка), puree and pies, are the next best thing, applewise. (more…)

VLADIMIR YEVTUSHENKOV PLAYS MONOPOLY – MAKES FRIENDS WITH PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA OF SOUTH AFRICA FOR A $50 BILLION CHANCE, AND GETS OUT OF JAIL

By John Helmer, Moscow

Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s asset-holding company Sistema has not inspired investor confidence since September of 2014. That was when Yevtushenkov was arrested in Moscow and charged with fraud and money-laundering in connexion with Sistema’s takeover of Bashneft, a Volga region oil producer.  That year, Sistema’s market capitalization on the London Stock Exchange dropped from $15.5 billion to $1.2 billion, setting a new record for haircuts among Russia’s oligarchs. Yevtushenkov’s incarceration lasted eight weeks in home confinement, during which he gave up Bashneft and accepted a number of other terms from Russian prosecutors and their superiors.

One of these get-out-of-jail cards has just come to light in Johannesburg, South Africa. Through leaked emails, a big-money deal has surfaced between Yevtushenkov and the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. How much money was promised and for what purpose is not known yet.  But the deal in negotiation has been alleged by South African sources and reporters to be a case of skulduggery on Zuma’s part; that of his son, Duduzane Zuma, and of a financial advisor and collaborator of the Zuma family, Rajesh (aka Tony) Gupta. 

In Moscow today, Yevtushenkov’s head of corporate relations, head of press and head of investor relations would not confirm or deny the meetings with Zuma Senior, Zuma Junior and Gupta. They also refused to give details of the business Yevtushenkov has been conducting with President Zuma. (more…)

JEREMY CORBYN HAS WON THE BIGGEST VOTE GAIN FOR LABOUR SINCE THE 1945 ELECTION WITH NO HELP FROM RUSSIA — AND ALMOST NO HELP FROM SCOTLAND

By John Helmer, Moscow

Sherlock Holmes pointed the way in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet in 1892: “When you have eliminated the impossible,” he said, “whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

If you believe the evidence of the US Democratic Party, the Director of Central Intelligence,  the NATO Defense College, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Hillary Clinton,  and several hundred of their state-paid hangers-on, it is impossible for there to be a surge of voters in any of our advanced democracies which cannot have been detected in advance by the election technologies in current use. That is, unless there had been massive cyber-penetration by the Russian secret services, under direct command of President Vladimir Putin, so that voters won’t or can’t reveal what they are thinking until they vote; and if that doesn’t produce wins for Kremlin-manipulated  candidates, to hack voting machines and turn out fabricated vote totals.

However improbable all this may seem to you, it stands to reason, Sherlockian reason, that the Russian explanation must be the truth. Putin’s advice early this month for Americans to “take a pill” must be further confirmation of improbability turned truth.   Also, there can be no exceptions. What must have been true for American voters last November must be just as true for British voters last Thursday. (more…)

CRIMEA EARNS A PREMIUM AT RUSSIAN ART WEEK BUT AIVAZOVSKY’S “GREETING TO AN AMERICAN SHIP” FAILS TO SELL

By John Helmer, Moscow

For one day  in London every June and December, the Russian assets which regularly pass through greased palms on terms dismal for their repetitiveness,  are of a beauty to make you forget the damage the trade does to the country and its people. The Russian Art Week auctions are the occasion. The results are an indicator of the price the Russian market, and also the foreign one, place on this beauty.

The auction houses claim not to know who buys and who sells. In fact, they keep the identities and addresses secret. That’s because the money for which the art works were exchanged  may have been dishonestly come by at the start, hot in transit, and laundered now.

“Optimism for the future of Russia is at an all-time low”, commented a well-known London art dealer this week. “People with money are escaping and buying art. The good news about this week’s prices in London is that they could have been much worse. A bigger group of Russians is now buying at lower prices per work,  so the cumulative total is a big one for the auction houses. You could say that the best Russian art is better priced to be more affordable if you are rich but not super-rich.”

A Russian art market source adds: “economic distress has always been good for the Russian art market. What you see today is that the old classes of St. Petersburg aristocrats and Moscow merchants who fled a century ago are now selling what they took with them to remind them of the country they left behind. Their heirs feel no sentiment towards Russia, or they are hostile. The buyers are also Russians on the run, but they are still sentimental. The paintings sold this week are being swapped between Russian exiles. They aren’t going back to the motherland. The state isn’t buying, and most people are too poor. The rich are buying for walls of chateaux in France and English country houses.”    (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.  

(more…)

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.  

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

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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.

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