NOSTALGIA FOR THE SOVIET MUD CURE WON’T STOP THE CULL OF RUSSIAN PENSIONERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Early this month a Chinese reporter asked President Vladimir Putin for an intimate detail of his life noone had requested (or been given) before. Asked how much time he spends on exercise each day, Putin replied: “Every day I spend about 2–2.5 hours doing sports. I go to the gym, I swim, sometimes I get out on the mat, if I have sparring partners, and sometimes I play hockey.”

The amount of time surprises European sources; they believe Putin, now 65 years of age, is setting something of a world record among heads of government or state. Moscow observers claim the number of Putin’s sport hours includes at least a half-hour undressing and dressing, perhaps his daily ablutions too. Even discounting that time, the sources remark it is more than twice the recommended exercise norm at Soviet sanatoriums built in Lenin’s and Stalin’s time to restore workers’ health from poisonous occupations at mines and smelters, and raise their productivity on going back to work.

A newly published book from London  is a portrait of the decline of these institutions in contemporary Russia, before they disappear entirely, their worker and pensioner clientele with them. A federal Health Ministry doctor observes that as the retirement age is stretched out by eight years for women (new target 63), five years for men (target 65, Putin’s age), state spending for the physical welfare to make the distance is being cut back. Several millions will not reach the sanatorium; they will have gone to the cemetery instead.  

This is a policy of cutting the state budget for pensioners by preserving the money in the  pension,  but culling the numbers of those living long enough to receive it. The ideology of the Soviet sanatorium has been liquidated; the real estate is being privatized; the surviving clientele redirected into fat reduction and cosmetic treatments for juvenescence.   (more…)

VALENTIN YUMASHEV IS STILL PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN’S ROPE- PULLER AFTER EIGHTEEN YEARS

By John Helmer, Moscow

There are many reasons why, to Russians who suffered through the regime of Boris Yeltsin, Yeltsin’s son-in-law Valentin Yumashev should be regarded with the same contumely as the people of Paris considered Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre-Dame in Victor Hugo’s tale.

Yumashev, who failed to complete a journalism degree but ended up ruling the Russian media, lacks the physical deformities, most of them.  But his attitude is the same. Quasimodo “turned to mankind only with regret”, according to Hugo. “His cathedral was enough for him. It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence. The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him – he resembled them too closely for that.”

 “When it shall please you to have me to fall,” Quasimodo told the hostile crowd, “you will not have to even utter a word, a glance will suffice.”

Yumashev and Putin have had such a relationship, a reciprocal one as it has turned out. So why is the bell-ringer who has been hiding in the Kremlin towers all these years – why is Yumashev, who calls his occupation a real estate developer, being revealed this month as Putin’s official advisor? The answer, says a Moscow source, is American.  “Yumashev is to Putin as [White House Senior Advisor Jared]  Kushner is to Trump.  Look carefully at their backgrounds;  their sources of money; their methods. Putin has calculated that it is up to Yumashev to negotiate with Kushner an end to the American war on Russia.” (more…)

WALDMAN SEQUEL: ASSANGE OFFERED TO HELP THE CIA AND THE CIA OFFERED TO HELP ASSANGE PREVENT RUSSIAN ESPIONAGE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Adam Waldman, a Washington lobbyist, was authorized by Julian Assange in March of 2017 to set up a trip to Washington for Assange, and broad terms of discussion there between Assange and US Government officials of highly sensitive intelligence information, including US offers of assistance to protect Assange from “foreign espionage risks”. By that, Waldman meant Russia.

Waldman refused last week to discuss the details of his meetings with Assange and subsequent negotiations on Assange’s behalf in Washington. Late on Monday afternoon, Washington time, Waldman was reported as telling a US reporter: “Mr. Assange offered to provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases. Finally, he offered his technical expertise to the U.S. government to help address what he perceived as clear flaws in security systems that led to the loss of the U.S. cyber weapons program.” By “clear flaws” Assange appears to have meant flaws clear to Russia. (more…)

HOW MANY TURNCOATS MAKE A COVER-UP – ADAM WALDMAN, JULIAN ASSANGE, OLEG DERIPASKA AND LUKE HARDING

By John Helmer, Moscow

Over weeks and months of last year,  Adam Waldman (lead image, left), a Washington lobbyist with ties to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, tried to lure Julian Assange (second from left) into making incriminating admissions to benefit the Democrats’ campaign alleging Russian collusion in Clinton’s defeat by President Donald Trump.  Assange tried to use Waldman for a deal with the US Department of Justice, exchanging an offer to withhold disclosure of classified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents and trade other secrets, some Russian, in exchange for a grant of immunity from US prosecution.

At the same time, Oleg Deripaska (third from left), the oligarch in control of the Russian aluminium industry, paid Waldman to offer US prosecutors information about the Trump election campaign manager Paul Manafort and others connected to the Trump campaign, including Russians,  in exchange for a US Government promise not to impose sanctions on Deripaska.  Last week Luke Harding (right), a reporter for the Guardian, a London newspaper, sold the story of Waldman’s meetings with  Assange and Deripaska as a conspiracy to advance a scheme by President Vladimir Putin to control the US Government.

Four plotters; more than four schemes; money in Waldman’s and Harding’s pockets; not a shred of  truth. (more…)

BORIS MINTS’S MUSEUM OF RUSSIAN IMPRESSIONISM IS AN ART SCHEME TO DECORATE A REAL ESTATE PYRAMID, PENSION FUND ROBBERY, AND BANK FRAUD

By John Helmer, Moscow

In fear of  the Central Bank and the General Prosecutor investigating evidence of embezzlement, racketeering and fraud,  Boris Mints (lead image), a collector of  Russian painting of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, has fled to the UK.  How Mints turned his proceeds into artworks was one of the questions which Mints’s Museum of Russian Impressionism in Moscow was asked this week. Another was what dealings Mints may have had with Yves Bouvier, the Swiss operator of art transaction networks and freeport storages which are now the target of fraud and tax cases in Monaco, Switzerland, and the UK.

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GLOBAL NEWS HOUR RADIO, CANADA — LITTLE MISS UKRAINE IS BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Canada has endorsed US trade warfare against China, Russia, the European Union states, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela,   but registers its dismay when the Trump Administration refuses to give Ottawa an indemnity pass so that it can benefit from the damage inflicted on the others.  

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has accepted a “Diplomat of the Year Award” from Foreign Policy Magazine, a subsidiary of the Washington Post and the Jeffrey Bezos media conglomerate which is sworn to topple President Donald Trump. Freeland’s supporters in the Liberal Party claim she has been exceptionally effective lobbying for Canadian interests in the US. After her lobbying has failed, Freeland claims it is unfair, absurd and illegal for the White House to threaten Canada with penalty duties on steel, aluminium, and cars.

In all common sense what can Canadians expect from the Americans if this is how Canada’s leaders behave? (more…)

GORILLA RADIO’S GOLDEN RULE FOR CANADA — DON’T DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT YOU DON’T WANT THE US GOVERNMENT TO DO UNTO YOU

By John Helmer, Moscow

Long before the Christians claimed credit for enunciating the Golden Rule, it was the ancient Greeks who started it off. By all reports, Jesus of Nazareth gave the Rule its positive spin – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Greek spin was negative – don’t do to others if you don’t want them to retaliate.    

The Jewish versions of the Rule are a bit guarded. That’s  because they distinguish between neighbours and brothers on the one hand; to them the Golden Rule applies. But enemies on the other hand – they get whatever is coming.

That’s also the Ukrainian version of the Rule. This explains why Chrystia Freeland, Ukrainian by blood, homeowner in Kiev,  and Foreign Minister of Canada (lead image, centre), thinks the Golden Rule in its Christian version applies between Canada and the United States, but not between Canada and Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, and when she thinks circumstances call for it, Japan and other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) —  Australia, Brunei, Chile,  Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. (more…)

DEFECATION IN PUBLIC – WAS IT SOFT OR HARD WHEN WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS DID IT ON THE CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER? IS CHRYSTIA FREELAND ALSO AIMING AT JUSTIN TRUDEAU?

By John Helmer, Moscow

The British state broadcasting authority BBC reported  on Saturday morning that people who shit in public places are suffering from several different pathologies. That was before Saturday afternoon, followed by all day Sunday, when US President Donald Trump (lead image, left), his national security advisor John Bolton, his economic advisor Lawrence Kudlow, and his trade advisor Peter Navarro coordinated their movements to crap publicly on Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

“I always ask the police whether it’s soft or hard,” the BBC quoted its expert, Professor Mike Berry, a clinical forensic psychologist at Birmingham City University. “They look at me like I’m absolutely mad. And I say, if it’s soft, then it’s somebody who’s anxious, so you get a kid who goes and craps on the bed. And if it’s really hard stool then it’s an indication of somebody who’s angry and bitter about what he’s doing.”

To Canadian political analysts, the weekend attacks on Prime Minister Trudeau are the worst insults from the US Government in remembered history. They aren’t sure whether they are soft, because Trump is anxious; or hard because the Americans want to destroy Trudeau politically.

Canadian analysts agree that Trudeau and his Liberal Party government have been weakening in the Canadian polls for the election due on October 21, 2019.  The analysts are divided, however, on whether the impact of the American attacks on Trudeau will trigger a patriotic rally in support of the prime minister, or steady erosion of his party support and a gain in Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s (lead image, right) ambition to replace Trudeau.  One of Freeland’s backers, a veteran Canadian official, claims “the Trump people hate Chrystia before any and all.” He was unable to provide any evidence for this.” Other Canadian sources say that in the American government’s attitude towards Freeland, there is “nothing of the kind.” (more…)

ANOTHER WEEK IN LIMBO — DMITRY PESKOV FAILS TO APPEAR AT KREMLIN TALK-SHOW, RELEASED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Dmitry Peskov’s (lead image, right) future has still not been decided by President Vladimir Putin (left) after weeks of delay in which every other major figure in the Kremlin administration has been  confirmed either as staying or as departing.  This morning Andrei Tsybulin, currently titled “Chief of the Presidential Press and Information Office”, was asked by telephone if the President has officially appointed Peskov to a post in the new presidential administration — yes or no?  He replied: “We don’t give any comments. Please — wait for the official announcement on our website or in the media.”

A week ago, a Kremlin press office source claimed that Peskov would be visibly in charge at Putin’s Direct Line national television show on June 7. That was yesterday – but Peskov was neither mentioned by Putin, nor picked out by the cameras during the four-hour broadcast.

Tsybulin’s reference this morning to media reports as an alternative to a Kremlin announcement is a hint that Peskov has not been reappointed, and that Putin has not found a replacement for him yet. This is because the Moscow media have reported the fate of everybody on the senior Kremlin staff – except Peskov.   (more…)

APPRENTICE IGNORES SORCERER — RUSSIAN FINE ART MARKET BEATS BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S DIRTY MONEY CAMPAIGN, SOTHEBY’S CONSPIRACY TOO

By John Helmer, Moscow

One shadow hanging over the Russian art market was dispelled in London this week when the British Government’s media campaign against wealthy Russians failed to deter record sales of Russian artworks at the leading London auction houses.

Together, sales by Christie’s, Sotheby’s, MacDougall’s, and Bonhams fetched £21.7 million. That is three percent better than they achieved in June of last year. MacDougall’s set a house record, with an increase in value of its sales by 49% over a year ago. Christie’s also sold 35% more in value of Russian artworks.

Sotheby’s, however, recorded that its auction of Russian paintings fell to £6.9 million,  down from £9.9 million in June of 2017, a drop of 30%. And this is a new shadow in the Russian art market which leading European art dealers are reluctant to discuss openly.

Russian collectors, buyers and sellers of artworks say they are well aware that Sotheby’s is accused of colluding with the Swiss dealer, Yves Bouvier, to rig art prices and defraud buyers. A London High Court claim, seeking hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation and penalties, brought by Dmitry Rybolovlev, former owner of Uralkali, Russia’s leading potash producer, is due to start shortly. At the same time in Geneva, a criminal court proceeding is underway against Bouvier and his associates for price rigging and fraud against the Kaliningrad auto manufacturer, Vladimir Scherbakov. A third Russian art collector, real estate developer Boris Mints, is under investigation by Central Bank regulators and the General Prosecutor in Moscow; Mints has allegedly diverted bank loans into personal assets, and fled for refuge to London. (more…)

DWARFS ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS — ALEXANDER VINOKUROV RAIDS MAGNIT SUPERMARKET WITH HELP FROM SERGEI LAVROV AND OTHERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

The collapse of stock market confidence in Magnit, the largest and most valuable Russian retailer in the domestic and London stock markets, has triggered widespread speculation that Sergei Galitsky, 50, the founder and control shareholder of Magnit since 1998, was attacked by corporate raiders led by Andrei Kostin, head of the state VTB Bank, and Alexander Vinokurov (lead image, above), son-in-law of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (below) and business associate of Mikhail Fridman, owner of X5, the second supermarket retailer in Russia and Magnit’s biggest competitor.

As a two-step plan of takeover, the exit of Galitsky (born Arutyunian) and the takeover by VTB and Vinokurov, have been reported in the Russian press as the business deal of the year. But they are  unable to agree on why it has happened. A half-dozen reporters from Russia’s leading business media, who have covered the deal, and sixteen of the analysts they have quoted in their coverage, were asked to say if they knew of business conflicts Galitsky had been having; whether there was reason to believe that Kostin and Vinokurov had been acting in concert to oust Galitsky, drive the share price of Magnit down, and re-sell the asset to a potential competitor in the Russian retail market. Had there had been non-market reasons – asset raid in Russian — they were asked?

More than twenty sources in all, but not one of them agreed to answer the questions on the telephone or by email, notwithstanding promises of strict confidentiality. Their fear is infectious; their reaction is the strongest confirmation so far that Magnit is the target of an ongoing asset raid, which will hold down the value of the company’s shares no matter how much Russian consumer income and  market demand recover to lift Magnit’s financial results.   (more…)

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

How little the Germans have changed.

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

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

(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.

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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