“GET BETTER” – IN KEMEROVO STATE RULED BY AMAN TULEYEV GETTING BETTER HAS ALWAYS BEEN GETTING WORSE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Aman Tuleyev (second image, centre) was re-appointed by President Vladimir Putin (lead images, left) to his fifth term as governor of Kemerovo region on April 16, 2015.   No governor of a Russian province has served for twenty-one years with such a display of confidence from the President.

For this period Tuleyev has been responsible for the corrupt culture of the region; everyone in Kemorovo knows it. On Tuesday in Kemorovo city Putin was told so by a local resident. For the eleven-year file on Tuleyev’s crimes, stories of those whom he has falsely accused, as well as reports on those he has enriched in consequence, open the archive.   (more…)

THE BUSINESS OF SERGEI SKRIPAL – DID HE SPILL THE BEANS?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Sergei Skripal, the self-employed entrepeneur, former Russian military explosives specialist and British espionage agent, is “in hospital under heavy sedation,” according to a High Court judgement issued last week in London.   He is “unconscious” but appears not to be on life-support machinery. A Salisbury Hospital doctor testifed in court that Skripal and his daughter Yulia are “unable to communicate in any way” and  “in a physically stable condition which is not expected to change in the immediate or near future.” According to the court, “medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree.” The implication is that they are comatose.

The High Court reported evidence from the doctor treating the Skripals that they have suffered  “injury by a nerve agent” The court also accepted evidence from a government chemical and biological analyst at the Porton Down Laboratory that their injury had been caused by  “exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent.”

Justice David Williams, who presided in court and issued the March 22 ruling, did not identify a source or origin of this nerve agent. The judge also did not say nor did he rule that what happened to the Skripals was a crime.

The only official Russian explanation of what has happened came from Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. He said on March 23 there had been an “accident”; for Peskov’s reference to an accident, click to read

Skripal and his daughter were  represented in court last week by a London lawyer named Vikram Sachdeva QC. He  refuses to answer questions about his role or his clients.  His appointment by the British authorities does not establish his independence; according to last week’s court record, he “supported much that Mr [James] Eadie [lawyer representing the British Government]  submitted.” Sachdeva’s case record shows he has been involved in cases of unconscious people in the past, but Sachdeva appears to take the side of the authorities. “A safe pair of hands [for the government]”, a source familiar with Sachdeva’s record says.

The court record also reveals that Sachdeva refuses to have any contact with his client’s family in Russia or their business associates and contacts there. He testified in court that it is “not…practicable or appropriate to seek the views of others who might be interested in the welfare of Mr Skripal.” The judge acknowledged evidence in court that the Skripals “appear to have some relatives in Russia”, but added: “I accept that it is neither practicable nor appropriate in the special context of this case to consult with any relatives of Mr Skripal.”

Sachdeva’s refusal to open contacts with the Russian family and associates of Sergei Skripal to investigate the possibility that his injury was self-inflicted by accident, has triggered questioning by London and Moscow lawyers.  These sources do not doubt that the British and Russian intelligence and security services  have now gathered considerable evidence of Skripal’s activities before the March 4 incident, and of the contacts Yulia Skripal had with her father’s associates in Moscow before she flew to England on March 3. If no crime was committed, if an accident happened, then the sources point out that the evidence of the nerve agent in the Skripals’ blood amounts to only a small fraction of the evidence the British and Russian governments already hold. The lawyers also say this  is circumstantial, not direct and determinative evidence. (more…)

KREMLIN PURGE OR PURGATIVE — DMITRY PESKOV ADVERTISES THE SKRIPAL ACCIDENT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Kremlin insiders report that fear for survival is now sweeping the Kremlin and the ministries of the Russian government, as it is acknowledged by senior officials that President Vladimir Putin (lead image, left)  will make “significant changes” when he announces the new government after his inauguration in six weeks’ time.  

Putin, the sources have disclosed, has been unpleasantly surprised by two results of the Skripal poisoning case, after the intelligence and security services have briefed him on all they now know of the case.   The first surprise for Putin, the sources claim, is the failure of command and control on the part of the civilian arm of government to respond to the British challenges after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal was announced on March 4. The second is the behaviour of the state media and propaganda arm operated by Dmitry Peskov (centre), the presidential spokesman. “The Foreign Ministry hasn’t known how to act in London, whom to employ, whether to open its mouth, or keep it shut. The state propaganda organs have made this worse. Everything the government now says, truth though it may be, now looks unbelievable cover-up.”

The sources are guarded in their predictions. They believe Dmitry Medvedev will be reappointed prime minister. They expect that senior officials regarded as too fond of the west will go.

Watch and read as Dmitry Peskov explains to his boss why he should not be dismissed, and in the process reveals to the British government how the spokesman makes the president look culpable in the Skripal affair — an affair Peskov calls an “accident” six times over. That’s a dramatic news-breaking term;  Peskov fails to explain it. (more…)

THE SKRIPAL CASE GOES TO COURT FOR THE FIRST TIME – NEW UNCERTAINTIES FOR THE BRITISH AND RUSSIAN GOVERNMENTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

British High Court Justice David Williams has issued the first court adjudication of evidence presented by the British Government of what happened to Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal when they succumbed to poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.  Following three days of closed-door hearings this week in London, the judge issued a ruling for publication yesterday.  

This allows the commencement of a process of evidence-gathering and testing by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) under international treaty procedures and rules for the admissibility of evidence. The new court-ordered safeguards  respond to the criticism issued in an official aide-memoire from the Russian Foreign Ministry on  March 21. In that document, the Russian Government criticized the British Government for failing to secure “the chain of custody [of blood sample and poison evidence] up to all the OPCW requirements when evidence was collected”.  

The process ordered by Justice Williams yesterday will not only assure the independence of OPCW evidence-gathering.  By DNA testing of the fresh blood samples to be taken by the OPCW and matched against the original blood samples taken by British investigators to the Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Russian suspicion of evidence tampering will be addressed.

In a dramatic disclosure defying explanation, Williams has now revealed that lawyers representing the Skripals and witnesses from the Salisbury Hospital and the British Government  told the court there has been no approach from any Russian family member, any Russian government agency,  or a lawyer acting for them to seek access to the Skripals or their medical records.

According to the hospital witness, “the hospital has not been approached by anyone known to the patients to enquire of their welfare. The hospital know little about either patient or what they might have wished. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates have been appointed by the Trust to assist with best interests decisions on clinical matters.”

Representing the Skripals, Vikram Sachdeva QC told the judge “that in this case at present it did not appear practicable or appropriate to seek the views of others who might be interested in the welfare of Mr Skripal (his mother perhaps) or Ms Skripal (perhaps a fiancé).” (more…)

SERGEI FRANK’S LOCKJAW CAUSES $113 MILLION IN RECORD LOSSES AT SOVCOMFLOT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Sovcomflot (SCF), the Russian state shipping company, has been obliged by its accountants Ernst & Young to declare $75.5 million in costs and expenses from court orders by British judges over a series of lawsuits initiated by Sovcomflot’s chief executive, Sergei Frank (lead image, left) thirteen years ago.  The money must be paid to Yury Nikitin,  a former chartering partner of Sovcomflot.  

The figure was released last week in Sovcomflot’s financial report for 2017. It does not include between $30 million and $50 million, which London sources estimate to have been Sovcomflot’s legal expenses and costs of compensating two other victims of Frank’s London litigation —  Dmitry Skarga, Sovcomflot’s chief executive before Frank’s takeover in 2004; and Tagir Izmaylov (Izmailov), chief executive of Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship) before Frank forced a merger between Sovcomflot and Novoship. The charges,compensation and penalties which Sovcomflot has been ordered to pay stem from the rulings by High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court  judges that Frank was dishonest and vindictive in his claims against Nikitin, Skarga and Izmaylov.

Maritime analyst for Uralsib Bank in Moscow, Denis Vorchik, reported to clients this week the new financial accounting for the London litigation was the main reason for Sovcomflot to report a loss of  $113 million for 2017. (more…)

DMITRY PUMPYANSKY IS DESPERATE – TMK OFFERS TO SELL US SUBSIDIARY AT FIRE SALE PRICE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Something dark, something blacked out is happening at TMK (Trubnaya Metallurgicheskaya Kompaniya, Metal Pipe Company),  Russia’s leading manufacturer, and one of the world’s leading manufacturers,  of steel pipes for oil, gas, water,  and construction.

In an unprecedented triple change of mind, TMK owned by Dmitry Pumpyansky announced an initial public offering (IPO) of shares in its American subsidiary IPSCO Tubulars Inc. on January 29.  Just ten days later, on February 8, the company announced to the New York Stock Exchange it was withdrawing the share sale. The official reason was that “the continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an initial public offering.” In four more weeks, on March 9, TMK issued a new prospectus, reopening the sale of the IPSCO shares.

The company will not explain why it changed its mind,  or what has happened in the volatile New York market to justify restarting the IPO. Not a single London or Moscow-based bank  analyst identified by TMK as specializing in its business will give a reason. Moody’s rating agency, which lifted TMK’s outlook from negative to stable on February 28, has also failed to explain what is happening.

The answer, however, can be found in the small print of the two IPO prospectuses issued by TMK and IPSCO. TMK’s debt has been growing, the two prospectuses report, revealing that TMK’s lenders are increasingly anxious to be repaid. Two of the banks are relatively small lenders, but they have been demanding early repayments in recent days, as TMK’s share price fell after the IPO cancellation.

The biggest of TMK’s lenders is the Russian state bank VTB. It is pressure from VTB which has caused the sudden re-issue of the IPO prospectus — with one important change visible in the small print; that’s to say, invisible in the small print. VTB is insisting Pumpyansky drop the share price target of the first prospectus and sell for whatever price he can get now. VTB’s cash call has led to a share price target  in the new prospectus that is blank. (more…)

THE BLOOD LIBEL OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT (SIC)

By John Helmer, Moscow

Prime Minister Theresa May committed a blood libel against Russians in the House of Commons last week. This was the allegation that the Russian state and all Russians are murderers.

May has subsequently asked the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to correct the record by charging that only one Russian, President Vladimir Putin, is a murderer.

The Canadian Government was also requested by the British  to urgently correct the record May has been making in refusing to allow the international rules of the Chemical Weapons Convention to decide what happened in the poison attack in Salisbury on March 4.  According to the new Canadian statement, coordinated with the British, the international convention can be suspended by Prime Minister May in order to make her blood libel stick.

If this is reminding you of Adolph Hitler’s blood libel against the Jews, followed by Austrian support after the Anschluss (union) with Germany of 1938, it should. (more…)

TEST OF THERESA MAY’S RULE OF LAW, AN APPLICATION FOR HABEAS CORPUS FOR YULIA SKRIPAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

An application to a British court for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Yulia Skripal is the last chance, British and international lawyers believe, to preserve for public accountability the evidence of the poison attack against her and her father, Sergei Skripal. The attack occurred on Sunday afternoon, March 4, after the poison  had been prepared at the Skripal home in Salisbury. The Skripals themselves were exposed several hours later at a nearby restaurant.  

Bulletins on their medical condition are being issued by the National Health Service. In addition, Salisbury District Hospital has been publishing daily Twitter feed on the public health risks since the attack, along with a notice: “Salisbury Hospital is open and operating normally. We are advising patients to attend for their scheduled appointments as normal.” When hospital officials were asked today what is the condition of the Skripals, they reported  they are “in a critical, but stable condition in intensive care… The police officer, who was also part of the initial response, is conscious in a serious but stable condition.”

The lawyers say it is already impossible for the evidence collected by the police and military investigators at sites around Salisbury to be admissible in a court of  law. This, they add, is because samples of the poison may have been tampered with before or after Prime Minister Theresa May (lead image) announced to the House of Commons the ongoing forensic investigation on March 12, and then announced the government’s conclusions on March 14.

Securing the chain of custody of the evidence required by British courts has been compromised by the state secrecy surrounding the case, legal sources believe.  It stopped altogether with May’s second statement to parliament yesterday.   In that speech, the prime minister implied that no samples of the poison have been despatched to the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OCPW) in The Hague.

The only accessible evidence about the source of the poison, according to the lawyers, is in the bodies and medical records of Yulia Skripal and her father.  Accordingly, the lawyers are now considering an application to a British court for habeas corpus on Yulia Skripal’s behalf, so that the poison and the allegations surrounding the attack on the Skripals can be tested by a judge, according to the British laws of evidence. (more…)

FOURTEEN AND A HALF CERTAINTIES ABOUT THE CASE OF SERGEI SKRIPAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

In cases like the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the only way to proceed is by identifying the evidence which proves with certainty what happened; or failing that, proves with certainty what did not  happen. Perpetrator, co-conspirators, method, motive, intention – all come later, if they come at all.  

At the moment, according to police and government releases and the British state media, the crime scene in Salisbury is being combed by at least 250 police officers; with another 180 military personnel specializing in chemical warfare. Dozens more electronic surveillance and cyber-warfare agents are also engaged. The crime scene locations include the Skripal house; the cemetery graves of Skripal’s wife and son; the Mill public house where Skripal and his daughter had a drink; the Zizzi restaurant where they ate before collapsing; and the public areas where they walked between house, pub, restaurant, the Maltings shopping precinct, and park bench.

At least 240 pieces of evidence have reportedly been identified as such, not counting the Skripal house, and 200 witnesses interviewed, including Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. He developed symptoms  after being despatched to the Skripal house. That is, after the Skripals had been found and hospitalized.

According to Lord Ian Blair, a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, “there are some indications that the police officer who was injured had been to the house, whereas there was a doctor who looked after the patients in the open, who hasn’t been affected at all. So there maybe some clues floating around in here.” Blair said this on the BBC.

His disclosure, also confirmed in several newspapers, provides the first certainty in the case: the Skripals came into contact with the poison for the first time inside their own home. They then went out to the pub and the restaurant. Certainty No. 2 – the poison cannot have been fast-acting for them at home. Certainty No. 3 – the poison was faster-acting for Sgt Bailey because he developed symptoms almost immediately at the Skripal house.

Follow the next eleven certainties. (more…)

ANATOMY OF FAILURE – WHY AMERICA WILL LOSE EVERY WAR IT STARTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s novel for a US military institution to publish a report which contradicts its own conclusions, and adds up to evidence instead for the opposite of its proposals. This feat has just been achieved by the Naval Institute Press and Harlan K. Ullman in a book dedicated to the US Naval Academy Class of 1945. The title is Anatomy of Failure, Why America Loses Every War It Starts.

Ullman’s case is that because the US military lacks a “brains-based approach to strategic thinking”, it keeps losing the wars it starts. Ullman isn’t against the US starting wars. What he proposes is that the only brains for winning these wars are his own. Naturally, the London media have clicked their collective heels, saluting Ullman with reviews declaring, among other things, that  “there is not an army in the world that could stand up to the Americans in a fair fight. But winning wars is a different matter”.

In short, the adversaries of the US don’t fight fair. They win by fighting dirty. Americans need to use their brains, er Ullman’s brains, to compensate.

What those brains propose  is a combination of  “extensive knowledge and understanding of the enemy at all levels, brilliance in execution, rapidity, and sufficient control of the environment in all dimensions to impose our will.”

Ullman expands the IMPOSE-OUR-WILL phrase into a warfighting doctrine he claims to have invented himself in 1994. He was sitting, he claims, on a Pentagon committee of retired generals and admirals  he calls by their diminutives – Bud, Fred, Chuck, Tom, Jim and Snuffy.  Ullman says he first called the doctrine “shock and awe”.  But this is Ullman’s selfie, as fake as the photograph on the book’s dust jacket (lead image, left). This is also Ullman’s recapitulation of the old force concentration and mobility doctrines of Julius Caesar, Richard the Lionheart, Napoleon, German blitzkrieg, and Georgy Zhukov

It’s a battlefield idea which,  as the Germans learned on the Soviet Front, doesn’t win wars. The Americans are also learning the same these days on the Syrian,  Ukrainian, Korean and South China Sea fronts where they lack air superiority and on the ground have no better than parity of firepower  with the other side. Ullman and the US Navy have produced this book revealing they still don’t comprehend.   

Ullman is better known in Washington for boots on his own ground, according to the testimony of a local brothel madam who identified him publicly as her client before she was prosecuted and committed suicide. That’s a doctrine of schlock and whore.

(more…)

WHEN YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, NEPOTISM DOESN’T APPLY – HOW GERMAN GREF USES SBERBANK TO ENRICH HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN

By John Helmer, Moscow

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

That was Jesus Christ (lead image, left) talking, not German Gref (lead image, left), chief executive of Sberbank and the most powerful banker in Russia. The children Gref has been talking about are  paying clients of a new Moscow school established by Yana Gref (image, far right),German’s  second wife,  who is financed by Sberbank. And also Oleg Gref, son by Gref’s first wife, whose asset appraisal and consulting business depends on contracts from Sberbank. The kingdom of heaven belonging to Yana Gref is called Khoroshevskaya progymnasium  – for short,  Khoroshkola (Хорошкола); the one belonging to Oleg Gref is called Brayne Asset and Change Management. 

When money flows from Gref’s bank to these relatives and their businesses, the relationship is understood in international anti-corruption practice to be nepotism. Originally an Italian word meaning nephew, the term referred to the practice of medieval Catholic Church cardinals and popes, purportedly celibate and childless, of promoting and enriching their kin. It means the same in Russian (непотизм).  The Russian language makes doubly sure everybody knows this crime by having a word of local derivation to mean the same; that’s kumovstvo (кумовство).

In 2013, the State Duma proposed to make nepotism unlawful by adding an amendment to the Anti-Corruption Law of 2008.    This provision made it illegal in Russia for money to be paid from state agencies, state corporations or state banks to organisations whose directors, deputy directors and chief accountants are close relatives of the directors, deputy directors or chief accountants of the state agency which is the source of the money. 

But the amendment failed to pass. Nepotism (непотизм, кумовство) is missing from Russian law and current practice. It’s legal; the Gref family proves it.

The Gref family nepotism is not breaking news. It has been more frequently reported by Russian journalists than for any other Russian banker or minister of state. Also, Gref has been more thoroughly exposed in the press than his business friend, the grand larcenist, fraudster, tax felon and money-launderer Suleiman Kerimov; the details of those allegations (repeat allegations) can be read here

The unreported novelty in today’s story is how Russian law and those who enact it have allowed a loophole for Gref to get away with what are serious felonies in other places.

(more…)

DO RUSSIA’S SECRET WEAPONS INCLUDE INVISIBLE SUBMARINES, OR IS THAT A RUSSIAN BLUFF? HERE’S THE STORY OF THE DAY SWEDEN WAS INVADED BY A RUSSIAN WEAPON SO SECRET, IT DIDN’T EXIST

By David O’Brien, Boston

The mainstream media (MSM) lie constantly.

Writers in the alternative media work hard to expose these lies as they appear each day. But there is only so much they can catch in real time. Sometimes, looking back at an old story can give you a better understanding of exactly what happened, especially since you can include events that occurred after the initial story disappeared from the headlines.

I did this for a story that took place in October of 2014, when Sweden’s military conducted a massive search for what they were convinced was a Russian submarine lurking in their territorial waters. The story was headline news for a week straight, and people who follow the news most likely remember it to this day. (more…)

WHEN VLADIMIR PUTIN COUGHS, THE GRIPPE IS INFECTIOUS – KREMLIN SUCCESSION SHOWDOWN STARTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Still coughing from the effects of the influenza which has infected most of Europe this winter, President Vladimir Putin has declared that for his last term in office, Russia is at war with the United States.

In his Federal Assembly speech on March 1, Putin also made sure that for his succession, he intends  the Russian military-industrial complex to prevail over the oligarchs on whom Kremlin rule has depended since 1996.  Politically, this means the rise  of Dmitry Rogozin, currently deputy prime minister in charge of the defence sector,  and Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister. Putin has signalled he intends the defeat of the pro-American business faction in Moscow, which US sanctions have been attempting to promote since 2014. (more…)

THE TRUST-OTKRITIE BANK FRAUD: ANOTHER DOMINO FALLS, MIKHAIL SUKHOV DISCHARGED AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

One of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) officials responsible for the state takeover and subsequent collapse of Trust Bank and Otkritie Bank has been removed from office for the second time in fifteen months.  Mikhail Sukhov (lead image, right), a deputy governor of the CBR responsible for regulating Russia’s biggest banks, was ousted from the Central Bank in October 2016. Hired by the state VTB Bank the following month, he was removed by VTB this week. 

A Moscow newspaper reports Sukhov was ousted because he was unable to perform his role at VTB “in strengthening mutual understanding with the regulator [Central Bank], which, in fact, was his key task.” The newspaper, reporting VTB sources, hints that Sukhov’s job was a sinecure to cover up what had happened at the Central Bank. VTB, the bank told reporters, “does not expect his responsibilities will be redistributed between the relevant chairmen.” 

Ilya Yurov, the former chief executive and control shareholder of Trust Bank, commented from London that Sukhov had “played an important role in Otkritie’s conspiracy” to take over Trust Bank’s assets.   Yurov’s version of where the $4 billion in money reportedly missing from the Trust-Otkritie combination since 2014 can be read here.  

Until Sukhov’s ouster, Elvira Nabiullina (lead image, left), who heads the Central Bank, had assigned him to  “coordinate and control the work of the Systemically Important Banks Supervision Department, the Credit Institutions Licensing and Financial Rehabilitation Department and the International Cooperation and Public Communications Department.”  Neither the CBR’s press office nor Sukhov commented at the time  on his ouster.  Sukhov and VTB are not responding to calls for comment on this week’s exit. (more…)

AFTERSHOCK OF NORD STREAM EXPLOSIONS RUMBLES WARSAW — POLISH POLITICIANS GO “NUTTERS”

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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?”

(more…)

THE BORNHOLM BLOW-UP REPEATS THE BORNHOLM BASH — POLAND ATTACKS GERMANY AND BLAMES RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

(more…)

LEMONS, MIMOSAS, AND STALIN’S SHOVEL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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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