By John Helmer, Moscow

The state media organ British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is preparing a television broadcast on Oleg Deripaska and asking journalists in Moscow to help.  Deripaska is the Russian state aluminium monopolist. The cue for the BBC is the new round of sanctions which the US Treasury says it is preparing,   and the campaign of Russian race hatred which American and British government officials conduct each day. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Central Bank of Russia’s plan for saving two of Russia’s leading non-state retail banks, National Bank Trust (aka Trust Bank, NBT) and Otkritie Bank, is unravelling because the two key witnesses to the wrongdoing which caused the banks to collapse are now under investigation for alleged wrongdoing themselves.

On February 20 in London,  Benedict Worsley, Otkritie Bank’s lead witness against the former administration of Trust Bank, was charged in the UK High Court with breach of trust, unlawful profiteering and taking bribes from Otkritie Bank. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Central Bank of Russia has authorized Suleiman Kerimov to take shareholding control of Vozrozhdenie Bank from Dmitry and Alexei Ananiev. The negotiation between Kerimov and the Central Bank occurred late last week. The Ananievs were absent abroad.

Eight weeks earlier, on December 15, the Central Bank had ousted them from shareholding control of Promsvyazbank, the first of the Ananiev banks; announced several billion dollars in bailout financing,  and began an  investigation of the Ananievs for grand larceny and fraud.  The Central Bank and the Finance Ministry have subsequently decided to nationalize Promsvyazbank.

The new deal with Kerimov privatizes Vozrozhdenie Bank on terms which provide state bank funding and guarantees, details of which have not been officially announced.

The circumstances of the double bailout are unprecedented in Russian banking history. Never before have two suspected bank thieves on the run been replaced by a man under arrest and facing trial for money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and other crimes.

There is one difference between the Ananiev brothers and Kerimov. For the time being, the Ananievs have yet to face criminal or civil charges in a Russian court; they have taken the Central Bank to court in Moscow charging abuse of power. Kerimov, by contrast, is facing indictment by French prosecutors in Nice for financial transactions identified in the Nice magistrate’s records  at almost one billion Euros. He is under house arrest at Cap d’Antibes, with a court-ordered bail of €40 million to relieve him of imprisonment after he had served two days. 

There is one more difference. According to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) which Russia ratified in 2006,  Kerimov as a senator in the Federation Council is a politically exposed person (PEP) who cannot be authorized to take control of a bank while he exercises political functions unless he meets exceptionally strict domestic and international standards of disclosure and supervision.  Kerimov cannot qualify.  In addition, Russian law on the status of elected officials prohibits Kerimov from conducting business transactions with the Central Bank or anyone else for personal gain.

The Central Bank was asked this week to confirm whether it had negotiated in Moscow with Kerimov and authorized him to take control of Vozrozhdenie from the Ananievs.  The bank refused to say by telephone, and did not provide an official release. It requested an email of the question, and then  refused to answer.

Senator Yury Vorobyov (Vorobiev), deputy speaker and head of the Federation Council’s control commission for enforcement of the senators’ code of conduct, was asked if Kerimov’s negotiations with the Ananievs in January and with the Central Bank a few days ago violate the law prohibiting members of the Council from carrying on business. Vorobyov refused to respond either directly, or through a spokesman.



By John Helmer, Moscow

The three types of power which decide the fate of regimes are force, fraud and subversion; that’s to say, arms, money, media.

The Roman Empire was good at using small armies to take on much bigger ones;  by adeptly concentrating their force they managed to rule much larger large territories than the legions could cover. The Byzantine Empire excelled at using bribery of locals to stay loyal;  the pre-requisite for that was  the intelligence to identify who to pay, how much, and how often.  The British Empire used subversion to divide and rule most of their colonial targets, but if the British were matched for firepower and intelligence, they failed and were defeated – by the American colonists, the Maoris, the Boers, the Germans, the Japanese.

The American Empire excels at subversion on the home front.  But abroad it usually combines fraud with  subversion. When these two fail to preserve or topple regimes, US-made wars have been a consistent failure. The Russians are better than Americans at force and fraud. Schemes of subversion like the US plots to promote Boris Yeltsin, Anatoly Chubais, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexei Navalny to rule the Kremlin, are not winners with Russians; they are judged successful only by foreigners who read  the  Washington Post and London  Times.

The Kremlin official responsible for Russian media involvement in the US presidential election of 2016 was Dmitry Peskov (2nd image, left); he doubles as spokesman for President Vladimir Putin. For Peskov’s intention to employ social media he has not been indicted nor identified as a co-conspirator by Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III ( right). For the evidence Mueller has revealed of incompetence in the Russian campaign, the waste of money expended, and the failure of the campaign’s objectives, there are calls in Moscow for Peskov to be sacked.

He has so far avoided responding. “We have not yet familiarized ourselves [with the Mueller indictment], ” he told Reuters.     (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra (lead image, left) resigned his post this week after admitting he had publicly and repeatedly lied that he had met with President Vladimir Putin when he had not done so.  

The Dutch press, which initiated the investigation exposing the lie, reports that in his resignation speech to the Dutch parliament  Zijlstra confessed “the biggest mistake of my political life…The Netherlands deserves a minister who is above any doubt.”

In Canada, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (right) – appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January 2017 — has been lying about meeting President Putin when she did not.

No Canadian newspaper has investigated Freeland’s lying, and she has expanded the lie to meetings with other Russian officials, which also did not happen.  The Toronto Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and the state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) have also failed to report Zijlstra’s resignation for his Putin lie; their editors blocked the Reuters  and Bloomberg  wire reports, which have been running on Canadian newsroom screens,  from appearing in print.    (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska (left) has issued a statement decrying a text and YouTube broadcast  published last week which allege improprieties on a fishing trip off the Norwegian coast when Deripaska hosted Sergei Prikhodko  (right). The trip occurred in August 2016. At the time, Prikhodko was Deputy Prime Minister and head of the government staff under Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.  

Prikhodko, 61, started a career in the Soviet Foreign Ministry in 1981. He then transferred to the Kremlin where he has been a Kremlin staff assistant to Presidents Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Medvedev.  Prikhodko remains in his post until a new government is appointed following the presidential election on March 18. 

 “I will severely suppress any attempts to create and disseminate false information flow,” Deripaska has announced.

The broadcast about Prikhodko’s fishing trip with Deripaska first appeared on February 8. Since then it has drawn to date 4.8 million views. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

What is more alluring than a Swiss smile – and I don’t mean the ones displayed by the girls around Cornavin railway station in Geneva.  

The question which Russian visitors, residents, and hopeful residents are asking is whether the Swiss have decided to abjure the smile and impose an informal sanction on Russians of wealth, and notable Ukrainians as well.

Sources who have been in social contact with Russians in January at the well-known ski resorts, as well as at elite boarding schools like Le Rosey, say large inter-bank transfers are being delayed or halted abruptly; longstanding bank accounts summarily closed; and applications to open new ones rejected.

The Swiss case of Roman Abramovich became a matter of public record on February 4, when Le Matin of Geneva reported  that the oligarch with residences in the UK, US, and the Caribbean had his application for Swiss residency rejected in the Swiss manner – with an invitation to withdraw and to re-apply later. The case has become notorious because a  judge in Zurich accepted an application from Abramovich to suppress publication in the Swiss media of the details of Abramovich’s case. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

Dmitry Pumpyansky’s (lead images) TMK, Russia’s largest steel pipemaking company, has announced that it is withdrawing its initial public offering (IPO) of shares in its US subsidiary, which had been planned for later this month on the New York Stock Exchange.  The announcement has appeared in the western media, but not yet on the TMK website. TMK planned to retain 62% of the US company after the IPO; Pumpyansky controls 65% of TMK through a Cyprus offshore entity called TMK Steel Holding Ltd.  

TMK’s Houston-based subsidiary known as IPSCO issued this release on Thursday, Texas time. “IPSCO Tubulars Inc. (“IPSCO”) today announced that it has decided to postpone its proposed initial public offering of its shares of common stock due to adverse market conditions. ‘While we received significant interest from potential investors, the continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an initial public offering,’ said Piotr Galitzine, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of IPSCO. ‘As a company, we’ve consistently made decisions in the best interests of our stockholders, employees and customers, and we will continue to do so.’”

Pumpyansky had been attempting to double his money. The attempt to spin off his American steel and pipemaking operations to American investors for a price approximately equal to the TMK group’s  market capitalization was promoted by US banks seeking to recover loans they had extended; and by Anatoly Chubais, long one of the US Government’s candidates to rule Russia instead of the Kremlin incumbents since 1999. Chubais runs the state holding Rusnano, which bought a 5.5% stake in TMK in 2015. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

‘All politics is local’ was something Tip O’Neill, the late Massachusetts congressman and Speaker of the US House of Representatives, used to say. ‘A week is a long time in politics’ was something Harold Wilson, the late British Prime Minister, said at about the same time. 

This week,  you have several illustrations of putting the two together on battlefields in Syria, Russia’s southern front,  and in the international financial  markets. There, officials of the Trump Administration in Washington have pulled off attacks on Russian targets  – some visible and direct, some indirect and camouflaged. These have caused serious casualties and costs on the Russian side, and produced military and financial gains on the American  side. Plus hand-rubbing among Russia’s adversaries;  denial talk in Washington and New York.



By John Helmer, Moscow

Steven (Steve) Mnuchin (lead image, right), a New York banker who has spent a year being Secretary of the US Treasury, is worse at dissembling his racket than his better-known American peers at racketeering,  Alphonse (Al) Capone of the Chicago Outfit (left) and Charles (Lucky) Luciano of the New York Commission (centre).  Mnuchin’s racket is billions of dollars bigger, but in legal principle and method, the fraud and extortion are much the same as the Outfit’s and the Commission’s. Mnuchin’s muscle is bigger too, though that requires warfare, which  the Outfit and the Commission were established to do without.  

Last week  Mnuchin  issued a Treasury report to Congress on the impact of US sanctions on Russian sovereign debt, which isn’t a report at all. It’s a leak to a news wire,  so sloppily arranged that one of the seven pages is a duplicate of the first, though the leaker didn’t notice he had slapped the same page on to the copier screen twice.  The US Treasury didn’t realize, Bloomberg, the newswire, didn’t check.  In the 228-year history of US Government reports to the US Congress, such a goof has never happened before.

The fraud in Mnuchin’s report is to claim in public that he is attacking Russian financial operations and the future of the Russian economy when he is doing something quite different in private, protecting advantages for the leading US investment banks in which Mnuchin has had a life-long family interest. The extortion is what Mnuchin’s agents abroad are privately saying to persuade  major foreign institutions competing with American ones not to buy or trade in Russian sovereign debt, when in public there is no legal authority for the US to do this.  

At the same time, Mnuchin is threatening  to do to Russian sovereign debt what the US has never done to a country with which it was in a Congressionally-declared war – not Spain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy,  Japan. He also omits to identify what the consequences would be when China, the leading foreign holder of US sovereign debt, understands it will be next.  China (including Hong Kong) currently holds $1.37 trillion in US sovereign debt, and the figure has been relatively stable since 2010. Russia holds one-tenth of that amount — just $105.7 billion;  and it has been declining steadily over the same time. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

Dmitry Pumpyansky (lead image, left), the 53-year old oligarch who dominates the Russian steel pipes business, knows how to pay for protection.

Last week the US Treasury listed him as an oligarch whose corruption record and closeness to the Kremlin may qualify him for sanctions, according to Section 241 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Pumpyansky is vulnerable to US asset freeze and credit cut-off because he owns steelmills, pipemills, bank accounts, and other assets in the US; about one-quarter of his sales revenues, profits and earnings are produced in the US. So why is he proposing to sell shares in his American business on the New York Stock Exchange in a few weeks’ time?

There are three answers. One is that Pumpyansky’s American business is the only loss-maker in his group, so he is selling the Americans a pup.  The second is that the American banks underwriting the initial public offering (IPO) of what is titled IPSCO Tubulars Inc. are also large lenders to the business;  so they are recovering their money, and reducing the risk that sanctions against Pumpyansky would hurt them in future. Finally, Pumpyansky is paying Anatoly Chubais (lead image, right) to influence US Government officials not to penalize Pumpyansky. Chubais, a board director of Pumpyansky’s parent company in Moscow, has been the American candidate for ruling Russia since he ran the state privatization programme from 1992; President Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin; and then the breakup and selloff of the Russian electricity system. Chubais is the only powerful Russian state company official not to be named on last week’s US Treasury list. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Belgians like to speak of themselves as the victims when the great powers of Europe go to war. They were when the Germans invaded in 1914 and 1940.

But since 2014 when the Belgian government has been repeating it is gung-ho for the war with Russia, there has been no Russian attack, no occupation.  Instead, there has been the amicable Russia-Belgium diamond trade worth more than $30 billion in annual exports and imports, supplied by the Russian state diamond company Alrosa.

If Belgian officials cut that trade off by agreeing to the European Union (EU) sanctions banning Russian diamond imports, as proposed by other EU states, that would  liquidate ten thousand diamond polishing and related jobs concentrated in Antwerp, and destroy the country’s fifth largest export business forever. Alrosa would move its diamonds to Dubai, killing Antwerp as a diamond trading and cutting centre, just as Amsterdam as a diamond centre was killed by the German occupation of 1940.  Antwerp took advantage of Amsterdam’s misfortune in 1946.   Dubai will now do the same.

This is what Belgian government and diamond industry officials mean when they say they favour the toughest possible sanctions on Russian gas exports to Europe  – but no sanctions on Russian diamonds. This is what Prime Minister Alexander De Croo meant when he told an Antwerp conference of diamantaires on September 14: “Sanctions should focus more on the aggressor than ourselves.”   

Earlier, reacting to an attack on the diamond trade with Russia by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in a speech to the Belgian parliament, the spokesman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) said: “Not only are thousands of jobs in Antwerp at stake in the short term, but this decision will inevitably lead to a worldwide shift in the diamond trade in the long term. As long as international policy-makers worldwide do not adopt a unanimous position to sanction Russian diamonds in their entirety, Antwerp will be the only place that will bear the consequences of an EU sanction.”  

By “worldwide shift” he meant Dubai.

De Croo has camouflaged Belgium’s resistance by repeating he will not veto a Russian diamond ban if there is “overwhelming support” for it in the EU. So a majority of the EU states have continued pressing; they are led by Poland. In March of this year, De Croo announced: “I would like to officially state that our country has never hindered any measures regarding diamonds. Our country did not interfere in this issue.”  In private, however, De Croo has been casting Belgium’s veto.  

The Poles have been attacking De Croo,  pressing the case for an EU  ban on Russian diamond imports as payback for De Croo’s insistence on imposing EU budget sanctions against the Warsaw government last year.  De Croo is also refusing to accept Ukraine’s demand for accelerated membership of the EU and of NATO, and for fresh EU funding to pay Kiev’s war-fighting bills.   

Instead, he has just announced €8 million in non-lethal aid to Kiev. “Ukraine can keep on counting on Belgium,” De Croo declared. “More than words, there are actions. Once again, Belgium is responding to concrete needs and will be providing essential equipment to Ukraine in the coming weeks.”  The equipment is first-aid kits and pharmaceuticals produced by Belgian companies.

This week the secret Belgian veto campaign appears to have succeeded. The new draft of the eighth round of EU sanctions includes dental floss and deodorants; it leaves out diamonds.    This omission is expected to be confirmed publicly on Friday of this week at the EU summit meeting in Prague.    

 “At the moment, diamonds are not included on the agenda for the next round of sanctions,” announced Tom Neys, the AWDC spokesman. “But things change quickly. [On] Friday [October 7] they will finalize discussions, and the EU [leaders decide] on October 6 and 7. The fact that sanctions also create other ethical problems, and that these sanctions will have no effect in Russia, are probably important elements in these debates. Now is the time to focus on international solutions.”  

By “international solutions” the Belgians mean keeping Dubai from taking over Antwerp’s diamond business.



By John Helmer, Moscow

Timing is everything when you are telling jokes on stage; summing up for the jury in a murder trial; or when you are a general preparing to send your army over the top. Knock the comedian, lawyer, or general off his timing, and the laugh, the verdict, and the casualties will go against him.

John Mortimer, a London barrister and author of the Rumpole of the Bailey television show,  once told the story of a friend who was coming to the end of his final jury address when he saw the judge writing a note and handing it to the usher. When it was passed to the lawyer as he was speaking, he glanced down to read: “Dear Jim, I thought you’d like to know that your flies are open and I can see your cock.”

Cocks which show or crow – like boys crying wolf – don’t comprehend the risks they create for themselves, and others. This is how it is in Berlin for Olaf Scholz and in Washington for Joseph Biden right now. They can afford to be impervious to the derision they are drawing in Warsaw; not so to the reaction to their antics in Moscow.

In this broadcast by Chris Cook, Gorilla Radio blows the final whistle before we all go over the top (Germans first, then the Poles). Even former Secretary of State John Kerry, career liar that he’s been, is revealed to be blowing on the same whistle this time round.



By John Helmer, Moscow

The official Russian reaction to the Nord Stream attack is to identify it as a US military operation, and to wait for an investigation to produce the evidence. That means wait, delay. No retaliation.

“How will we respond?”  Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday in the most detailed briefing so far from Moscow.    “We will respond with an investigation. This is a must, and our law-enforcement bodies have already launched it. This [the gas pipelines] is our property, resources, and infrastructure.”

“I would like to believe that the international investigation of what happened on the gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea will be objective… We will seek to conduct an honest and objective investigation… I hope that someone in the United States, or maybe someone in Europe — although, unfortunately, Europe in this case can no longer be counted on — someone from the independent investigators will have the desire to clarify the involvement of the United States, the special services and all other bodies in what happened on 25-27 September of this year in the Baltic Sea.”

This means that the Russian Government is waiting, delaying. There will be no retaliation for the time being.  

The reason is that Russian officials suspect the Biden Administration of preparing an October Surprise just ahead of Election Day, November 8: an attack on domestic US infrastructure – the electricity grids, for example – which will be reported as the Russian retaliation that won’t be.

The Nord Stream attacks were a military operation of the US, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden, with additional NATO air surveillance support from bases in Italy.  Politically, they were an attack on Germany, but the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has yet to say publicly what he knew in advance, what he knows now.

Who then knows what will come next except that there is now war in Europe, outside the Ukraine. Will the October Surprise begin war inside the United States?



By John Helmer, Moscow

The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.

It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.

Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.

Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points,   want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert  the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.

“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification,  his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”



By John Helmer, Moscow

The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island,  was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.

It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.

Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline  opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”.   The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.

But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.  

Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits,  LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”

Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”.  “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added,   diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February.  Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace  Morawiecki next year.  

The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45;  and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption,  and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .

“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June,  “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”

“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”

The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.



By John Helmer, Moscow

The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.   

Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha  by the Black Sea in Abkhazia.  Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.

Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo. But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred  kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel.  As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him.  “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”

In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.  


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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