DMITRY PESKOV AND THE TALLEYRAND PRECEDENT – HOW FULL CAN A SILK STOCKING GET BEFORE REMOVAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

To the Tuileries Palace in Paris on Saturday, January 28, 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte, then France’s Emperor, summoned five of his closest advisors.  He had just raced back from the war front in Spain, and wanted to discuss the course of the war and the growing discontent among the French with Napoleon himself.  

Accusing Charles-Maurice Talleyrand-Périgord of betrayal, Napoleon launched at him the most famous line of contempt a politician has ever publicly issued to a subordinate.  At the time Talleyrand, the foreign minister, was secretly selling his intelligence on Napoleon to the Russian ambassador in Paris. Four years later, in March 1814, when Tsar Alexander I entered Paris with his troops and Napoleon was in temporary retreat on the island of Elba, Talleyrand hosted the tsar overnight at his Paris mansion. They were together as the instrument of the city’s capitulation was being drawn up. Aside, Talleyrand told the tsar’s intelligence chief he was ready to switch sides if paid a much larger stipend than he had taken for his spying to date.

 “What are you planning? What do you want?” Napoleon had shouted earlier at Talleyrand. “Tell me, I dare you! I should break you like a piece of glass; you deserve it. I have the power, only I despise you too much to take the trouble. Why haven’t I had you hanged from the Carousel railings? There’s still time. You are a…a…a shit in a silk stocking.”

It’s that last phrase which, more than two hundred years later, still sticks to the name of Talleyrand.

The question still not answered, despite all the evidence of Talleyrand’s career as a betrayer of everyone and everything (except his bank balance) is Napoleon’s own: why did he keep Talleyrand on for so long?

That’s for historians. For today in Moscow the question is:  why does President Vladimir Putin keep employing spokesman Dmitry Peskov (lead image, right*) when out of the latter’s negligence, miscalculation and his Talleyrand-sized desire to collect and display wealth, he has caused damage to Russia’s state interests? (more…)

LONDON POLICE COMMISSIONER MAKES NEW CLAIM TO KEEP YULIA SKRIPAL INCOMMUNICADO

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, has announced that Yulia Skripal is not being held incommunicado, against her will, and in violation of her legal rights “if she consents to any assistance provided”. Last week’s videotape of Skripal signing a paper and making a brief speech was arranged within four days of the Commissioner’s announcement in an attempt by British officials to remove the Commissioner’s “if”, and demonstrate publicly that Skripal “consents to any assistance provided”.

British human rights lawyers challenge the legality of the videotaped “consent”. They say Skripal remains incommunicado, her whereabouts secret, prevented from access to her family and friends in Moscow, unrepresented by a lawyer, and unable to apply to a British court. Such restrictions, the lawyers believe a British judge would rule,  amount to secret incommunicado detention and enforced disappearance in violation of her rights under the British Human Rights Act of 1998. 

Skripal’s brief scripted references last week to “privacy”, “time to recover”, and “all the people who gave me support and help in this difficult period of my life” do not meet Commissioner Dick’s standard of consent, the lawyers believe.

(more…)

YULIA SKRIPAL’S POSTSCRIPT – WHAT DID SHE WRITE, AND WHAT DIDN’T SHE SAY IN THE BRITISH GARDEN EVENT, PLUS THE NEUROLOGY EVIDENCE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Yulia Skripal’s appearance in a British garden and her speech for one minute fifty-five seconds provides fresh evidence, less of what is happening to her in British custody, and more of what is not happening.

What is happening is that Skripal gave a memorised speech in front of a camera and teleprompter, but did not say in Russian what the English broadcast transcript, and also the English-language document she signed, claim she said.

Two script pages were visible on a side table during the filming; the one on top Skripal was filmed signing. The two papers appear to be in a different handwriting from Skripal’s signature and in a different pen from the pen she is seen to use. On the top page, apparently the Russian language text, Skripal added words after her signature; these are her first and family names in Russian, but without her patronymic, as Russians usually record their names in official documents. The handwriting of that name and the handwriting of the Russian statement are not the same. Nor the pen and ink used. 

In construction, the Russian version followed after the English; several important English expressions are not repeated in the Russian paper, nor in Skripal’s speech.  The most obvious is the English text in which she purportedly referred to “offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy but at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services.” Skripal’s Russian text speaks of “help” from the Russian Embassy: “now I don’t want and [I am] not ready to use it.”

“The Russian version of Yulia’s speech is soft, simple, and balanced,” a professional translator comments. “There is no hint or innuendo suggesting hostility towards anything Russian. The English version is sharper and more complicated than the Russian. The meaning is different.”

In the Reuters release,   Skripal made two crossings-out on her script, and two substitutions. Her corrections of the text imply that she has been obliged to change the time period she planned to stay with her father. In the original Russian, Skripal wrote that she intended to “help my father until the time of his discharge from hospital.” That line was changed to extend the period of her stay “until his full recovery”. Yulia Skripal was released from Salisbury Hospital on April 9;   Sergei Skripal, the hospital reported, was discharged on May 18.  If Yulia had been hoping or planning to return to Moscow then, her intention has been altered. The English text and the corrected Russian one mean Yulia Skripal will be staying in the UK indefinitely. (more…)

ALEXEI KUDRIN MAKES PROSTRATION SPEECH FOR PARLIAMENT VOTE -– THE ARCH-CAPITULATIONIST CAPITULATES

By John Helmer, Moscow

The State Duma voted on Tuesday to approve the nomination of Alexei Kudrin as Chairman of the Accounting Chamber, the state auditor and budget watchdog. The vote was 264 in favour; 86 opposed. No presidential nominee for the post has been elected over so much parliamentary opposition.

Forty-three deputies voted against Kudrin, all members of the Communist Party. Forty-three cast abstentions, including the 40 members of Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s party.  Despite Kremlin efforts to whip the 339-member United Russia block to vote in Kudrin’s favour, one in five refused to go along, and stayed out of the chamber at the roll-call*.  

Although Kudrin had President Vladimir Putin’s nomination and the endorsement of United Russia, the government’s party in the Duma, Kudrin gave a speech to the deputies ahead of the balloting in which he repudiated the pro-American, anti-military policies he has been advocating for years. Kudrin’s reversal reveals the degree to which the balance of power in Russian politics has changed decisively against the party of capitulation, and in favour of the Stavka, the combined forces of the Defence Ministry, General Staff, the intelligence services, and the military-industrial complex. (more…)

WHEN OLD MASTERS ARE WORTH MORE TO RUSSIAN BUYERS THAN OLD MANSIONS – YVES BOUVIER’S ART RACKET

By John Helmer, Moscow

Under pressure from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC),  an accused Swiss art fraudster, Yves Bouvier (lead image, right),  has become the target of new  money-laundering investigations of art dealings involving Russian businessmen.

Oleg Deripaska and Suleiman Kerimov (1st left) were hit by US sanctions announced by OFAC on April 6. In the announcement by the US Treasury, Deripaska was accused of money-laundering, bribery, extortion and racketeering. Kerimov was accused of money-laundering through the purchase of villas in the south of France, and failing to pay French tax on the deals. 

Weeks earlier, Deripaska and Kerimov were reported by the US Treasury on a list of Russian oligarchs, published by OFAC on January 29.   They are known to collect palatial residences, not artworks. Also listed with them by OFAC were two other Russians, Vyacheslav Kantor and Boris Mints. They have established well-known European art collections in Moscow, buying through dealers whom this week they decline to identify. Kantor says he started his collection on the advice of a neighbour in Geneva.

Not included on the OFAC list of January 29 is Vladimir Scherbakov (lead image, centre).  He has accumulated his wealth from an Russian auto-assembly plant based in Kaliningrad. Also a resident of Geneva, Scherbakov has launched a lawsuit there against Bouvier as the dealer he accuses of defrauding him in the purchase of forty artworks.  Asked this week to clarify the value of the alleged fraud and other details of the case, Scherbakov refuses to say. 

The OFAC publication of January 29 did not accuse the Russians on the list of wrongdoing nor proscribe them. Today’s list of individuals sanctioned by OFAC, the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List,   shows Kantor, Mints, and Scherbakov are not sanctioned. (more…)

WHY CAN’T A MAN DRESS MORE LIKE A RUSSIAN

By John Helmer, Moscow

The lapels on a man’s coat do what a brassiere does for a woman; they display the urge to overwhelm  others.  A pointed, exaggerated urge.    

So when President Vladimir Putin wore peaked lapels in public for the first time on February 9, 2017, he meant to signal he was intending to keep the power of the presidency for at least another term, long before he actually declared his intention.  And when Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wore the same lapels at Putin’s inauguration on May 7, 2018, he was saying he would keep his prime minister’s power,  hours before that was announced;   and he is hoping for more in due course. In Russia, Putin and Medvedev have been seen publicly wearing peaked lapels on their suits only once. If Putin notices Medvedev wearing them again, Medvedev will stop. The only men who wear peaked lapels continuously in Moscow are the generals of the General Staff and the Defence Minister, when he’s in uniform.

In Europe and the United States peaked lapels on power suits mean regime change has been postponed because the wearers are confident their power is secure.  In Russia, because power holders don’t feel confident for long, peaked lapels are rare. No oligarch has worn them, at least not inside the Russian frontier.  Not long after Vladimir Gusinsky started wearing them, he was arrested, stripped of his assets, and expelled.

There is much more to lapels in a newly published history of Tommy Nutter, London’s greatest tailor of the 20th century. (more…)

CONSPIRACY AND SILENCE — HAS DEFENCE MINISTER SHOIGU BEEN DISMISSED BY PRESIDENT PUTIN?

By John Helmer, Moscow

The longer the delay in the official announcement of who is to be the new Russian Defence Minister, the plainer it is that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wants to oust Sergei Shoigu from the job because he is a rival presidential succession candidate; and because President Vladimir Putin is afraid of the Stavka, the combined forces of the Defence Ministry, General Staff, the intelligence services, and the military-industrial complex, if by dismissing Shoigu Putin is seen to be capitulating to the enemy on each of Russia’s war fronts. (more…)

TOM WOLFE HAS DIED IN NEW YORK – HIS EAR FOR AMERICA WAS DEAF TO RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Tom Wolfe (lead image, centre, right), the American investigative writer, died on Monday in New York aged 88. The New York Times, as deaf still to the meaning of words as Wolfe was once acute, reports  the cause was an “infection”. When I knew him in 1970 I was a commissioning editor at Esquire on Madison Avenue.  Wolfe was surprising to be with — which I contrived to happen more than once because he liked to eat beef steaks,  and we were both amused to sit at a table in an Argentinian restaurant under a huge stuffed bull.  The Wolfe surprise was that he was so shy and so handsome in his show-off costumes. He was also unexpectedly deferential to fellows with British accents who knew a thing or two (more than he did) about London tailoring. In the Esquire stable then, Wolfe wasn’t wise and quippy, like Gore Vidal. He wasn’t as dull-witted as Norman Mailer, nor as fly-blown as Truman Capote.  Save for Vidal, all of them are now well past their use-by date. Wolfe can still be taught in graduate journalism classes though he dates less well than Hunter Thompson. In 2012 this was my obituary for the passing of Wolfe’s talent – the moment after he displayed his loss of understanding of what his eyes and ears were telling him. (more…)

ALEXEI KUDRIN ACCEPTS ACCOUNTING CHAMBER POST FROM SUBORDINATE – ERECTION TO STATE POWER DEFLATED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Once again, Alexei Kudrin (lead image), candidate for the second most powerful post in the Russian government after President Vladimir Putin, has had his ambition circumcised. The state news agency Tass reported Kudrin as confirming yesterday that he has accepted nomination as the new head of the Accounting Chamber, Russia’s state auditor and budget watchdog. Kudrin replaces a junior and protégée when he was finance minister, Tatiana Golikova; she has been promoted by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to become his deputy prime minister for social welfare policy.

In the week since Putin’s inauguration,  Medvedev has banished two men capable of rivalling him for the succession to Putin’s presidency – Dmitry Rogozin, representing the military-industrial and state sector of the economy, and Kudrin, representing the oligarch sector and the United States campaign for regime change.    

(more…)

HOW US ECONOMIC WARFARE WORKS — WHEN THE US TREASURY GAVE VICTOR VEKSELBERG LEMONS, HE ASKED THE RUSSIAN TREASURY TO PAY HIM TO MAKE LEMONADE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Victor Vekselberg and his Renova group were put out of business by the US Treasury in the April 6 sanctions list. The reasons announced  were that Renova is owned by Vekselberg,  and Vekselberg “is being designated for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy;” and also because there is a two-year old Russian prosecution “of  the company’s chief managing director and another top executive, for bribing officials connected to a power generation project in Russia.” For more on the criminalization of Russian electricity rates and the Kremlin policy of selective prosecution, read this.

One of the Renova group companies targeted by the US produces mineral water from Lake Baikal, the world’s largest, deepest freshwater lake and one of the purest of water sources in the country; Renova’s Baikal Holding also has plans to turn the water into lemonade and other soft-drinks.  Because these too are an American target, the far from well-known Baikal brand of bottled water has become the likely recipient of millions of dollars in Russian federal budget assistance.  

This is how the US economic war against Russia works. The target escapes; the sanctions achieve none of the declared US Government objectives.  The collateral damage, on the other hand, is concentrated on Russian taxpayers and consumers.  They pay to preserve the oligarch’s business intact.  (more…)

RUSSIA’S NEW GOVERNMENT PUTS THINKING CAP ON TO MAKE BREAKTHROUGH IN SPINELESSNESS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Since the Middle Ages, so for almost a thousand years, the hat which symbolized European learning was the mortar board. It originally meant the wearer had graduated with a university degree. It also symbolized that he had more degrees and more learning still to earn.  It was a symbol of the superiority of the wearer’s education compared to the unlettered — and of his mediocrity among the learned.

When the Chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court, 75-year old Valery Zorkin, presided at Tuesday’s investiture of President Vladimir Putin for his fourth term, Zorkin was wearing a  mortar board —  a hat not  known before in Russian court tradition.  The other court judges in the audience also wore them.  

The Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff, were in their ceremonial uniforms, but hatless. The Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, wore a double-breasted suit with double vents. Unprecedented for him, but hatless. The only other hatted official at the ceremony was Patriarch Kirill. Without mortar boards, if they think they have more to learn about governing Russia, they are keeping it to themselves. (more…)

VICE PRESIDENT FOR CAPITULATION – PUTIN DECIDES WHAT JOB TO GIVE KUDRIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin is considering whether to appoint a vice president for negotiating an end to sanctions with the US and the European Union (EU), and an about-turn in Russia’s foreign and defence policy.  

In the scheme proposed by former finance minister Alexei Kudrin (lead image, centre), the job would hold more power than the prime minister, allowing Dmitry Medvedev to remain in his place, but subordinate him to the new man.  Kudrin’s idea is that he would become this de facto vice president; the dominant policymaker of the government after Putin; and his likely successor.

Vice president is the term being used among Kremlin officials and advisors. Not since the constitutional crisis of 1993, when Vice President Alexander Rutskoi led the Russian parliament in rebellion against President Boris Yelstin, has the position of vice president existed in Russia, with the power to succeed or replace the incumbent president. It is an arrangement for which Kudrin claims to have the backing of the US and the EU.  Kudrin would also draw on the support of the Russian oligarchs, inside and outside the country.

The Kudrin scheme is being opposed as capitulation by the leadership of Russia’s defence, military and security forces. The Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, the chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, the deputy prime minister in charge of the military-industrial complex, Dmitry Rogozin, and other senior officials have been trying to persuade Putin to appoint a new prime minister to fight the military, economic and information war which they believe the US intends to wage against Russia until the Kremlin accepts  the West’s terms. For the story of their Stavka, read this.  

These officials are fiercely opposed to Kudrin, and to his attempt to make an alliance with Medvedev to claim the legal succession to Putin, should Putin agree to relinquish the powers and policies against which the NATO powers have planned regime change.    

Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Rosneft and a presidential succession contender himself, is not in the running for the so-called vice presidency. Sources close to him say he is opposed to the ambitions of Kudrin and Medvedev but he is biding his time. As deputy chief of the Kremlin staff when Putin was president between 2000 and 2008, Sechin was the de facto vice president for domestic policy, and dwarfed Medvedev. (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.

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

(more…)
Categories
Archives

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Education Template