ZIYAVUDIN MAGOMEDOV HASN’T READ JONATHAN SWIFT’S MAXIM THAT ONE ENEMY CAN DO MORE HURT THAN TEN FRIENDS CAN DO GOOD (RIGHT NOW HE CAN’T COUNT TEN FRIENDS)

By John Helmer, Moscow

If it’s true, as folk say, that you can’t keep a good man down, are crooked men equally irrepressible? The case of Ziyavudin Magomedov (lead image, right) —  plaintiff in New York State Supreme Court;  in prison on remand and a defendant in Moscow city court — is an example of either one or the other. At the very least, Magomedov is proving that muslims can have chutzpah. (more…)

SECRET MEETING IN WARSAW BETWEEN YULIA TIMOSHENKO AND IGOR KOLOMOISKY – NEW PLAN FOR UKRAINE, MORE WAR WITH RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the Polish capital of Warsaw a fortnight ago, Igor Kolomoisky met secretly with Yulia Tymoshenko. The reason for the secrecy is the terms of exchange which they discussed. These include Tymoshenko’s agreement that if she is elected president in Kiev in eight months’ time with Kolomoisky’s support, he will get relief from Ukrainian state pursuit of billions of his dollars currently frozen on British court orders. (more…)

VLADIMIR PUTIN MAKES FRESH START IN SOUTH AFRICA

By John Helmer, Moscow

When it comes to support for President Vladimir Putin’s international positions, the South African (SA) Government has been among the most consistent and enthusiastic of any in the world. However, Russian policy in South Africa has been damaged by the behaviour of Russian oligarchs and state businesses implicated in the corrupt schemes of former SA president Jacob Zuma; he is now facing multiple indictments for seeking and taking bribes for himself and his family.  Putin’s landing in Johannesburg on Thursday ought to have been the signal for a fresh start. (more…)

THE HELSINKI REFERENDUM FOR DONBASS – PUTIN OPTS FOR NO-WIN, NO-LOSE; US REJECTS SWAP OF DONBASS FOR CRIMEA

By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin (lead image, left) has announced a new policy of withdrawal from eastern Ukraine under cover of a referendum to confirm the sovereignty of Kiev.

No, hold it. Putin has announced an old policy in a new way in the English-language press.  

No, no – an old policy, already rejected in private by the US Government and the Kiev regime, was announced by Putin to President Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 16. That was in case Trump  hadn’t been told or hadn’t thought of it. It was also for Putin and the Russian military command, the Stavka, to demonstrate to each other that the US will agree to no Russian withdrawal agreement until Crimea is recovered. 

In the Russian language media, there is only one Russian explaining this means war without end. That’s Igor Strelkov (right), the former leader of the Donbass uprising in 2014. He says Putin’s  formula for the Ukraine settlement  is “chewing gum” he wants to spit out when noone is looking. “But there are some political signals that up to the present moment the capitulation of DNR  [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LNR [Lugansk People’s Republic] is not planned.  If it was so, Russia wouldn’t have eased the migration rules for Donbass citizens. So this idea is temporarily closed. Another idea — will the Ukrainian armed forces be defeated? A ceasefire isn’t possible without it.”  That’s what Russians military sources call the Syrian solution. (more…)

MECHEL IS THE SERIAL POISONER OF CHELYABINSK — ALEXANDER SHOKHIN DOESN’T ADMIT TO BEING DEPUTY CHAIRMAN IN CHARGE OF MECHEL’S SCHEME OF KILL FEES

By John Helmer, Moscow

Mother Nature, Greenpeace  and the National Geographic Magazine believe that killer whales  (lead image, left) are predators of the sea who have been misnamed. They are dolphins who kill whales (also seals, sea lions, sharks, and occasionally, when they get upset, a zoo-keeper). 

In Chelyabinsk, environment investigators  and city residents  believe  that the Mechel steel, coke and coal company is a predator which kills people with air and waterborne pollution. The control shareholder of Mechel, Igor Zyuzin (lead image, right) employs people. He employs Alexander Shokhin (centre) to use his influence with the Kremlin and officials of the federal and regional governments to guard Mechel and make sure it isn’t stopped doing what it does.

Mechel ought to say what that is, according to the rules of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a public shareholding company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Except that as a Russian company, Rule 405, Rule 3b-4,  and Rule 12g3-2(b) exempt “foreign private issuers” from the same standards of disclosure as apply to US resident companies.   This doesn’t mean the SEC allows Mechel to get away with, er murder; it is obliged to comply with Russian laws against that. But if it is operating illegally on Russian territory, its reports to the SEC and NYSE don’t have to say so.

Accordingly, when Shokhin is telephoned and emailed at his office in Moscow,  he knows the American rules don’t oblige him to answer any question about his job at Mechel, including how much the company pays him as Zyuzin’s deputy on the board of directors. Shokhin is diving deep under the surface where he can’t be seen -– and the American rules make it legal for him to do it. The cure for Mechel’s poisoning of Chelyabinsk which Shokhin has persuaded his friends in government to allow is simple – Mechel pays the government a small amount of money for its poisons, tax deductible. (more…)

WARFIGHTING STRATEGY AFTER HELSINKI — TIT FOR TAT, SHIT FOR SHAT

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the armchair warrior’s version of game theory played with and without nuclear weapons, there’s a special place for the calculation of strategic deterrence that’s called tit for tat. President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump agreed between themselves that in the tit-for-tat game between the Kremlin and the White House, anticipating, reciprocating and deterring are best achieved by cooperating.

That word was used nineteen times in the presidents’ news conference. It appeared nine times in Putin’s opening statement; four times in Trump’s opening statement; and six times in Putin’s answers to questions.

Because the two sides had agreed in advance not to issue an official communiqué revealing (to Trump’s adversaries at home) what they had agreed, these remarks were staged in front of the cameras instead. Cooperation was the obvious point of agreement. However, since they left Helsinki, lower-level American officials and their media – Russian officials and their media,  too — have replaced tit for tat for shit for shat. That’s information warfare jargon for opening the mouth and talking drivel. (more…)

JULY 17 IS THE FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MH17 ATTACK – TIME AND REASON TO DOUBT THE ALLEGATIONS

By Eric van de Beek and Max van der Werff, Amsterdam*

Max, a year ago we looked back extensively on three years of MH17. Which are for you the most important events and developments over the past year?

Without any doubt the liability of the Russian Federation claimed by the Netherlands and Australia and then the first real firm denial by President Vladimir Putin. The positions on what really happened can no longer be reconciled and both parties cannot go back any more. (more…)

DMITRY PESKOV COACHES VLADIMIR PUTIN AT HELSINKI GAME

By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin’s side of the brunch table at the Helsinki summit almost matched President Donald Trump’s side. Seven sets of knives, forks and spoons;  six officials, one interpreter, matching lieutenant-generals. The odd man out — that’s to say in — was Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman. Peskov’s White House counterpart, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was excluded.  Peskov wrote notes during the delegation meeting; his contribution became public during the press conference of the two presidents which followed. (more…)

ROBERT MUELLER REPLACES US CONSTITUTION WITH ROYAL LETTRE DE CACHET – COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE OPERATION AS DUE PROCESS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Robert Mueller (lead image), the special US prosecutor of crimes of espionage between Moscow and Washington, picked July 13 to issue his indictment of twelve alleged Russian military intelligence officers for doing their jobs on evidence collected by US intelligence officers doing their jobs.

The Russian crime alleged by Mueller in Paragraph 1 of the indictment  was  “large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The US crime, revealed by Mueller but unindicted so far by the Russian General Prosecutor, was large-scale cyber operations to interfere with Russian state security.

Mueller could not have picked a more auspicious date if he weren’t an ignoramus on the history of autocracy and democracy, European and American. For it is one day later, on July 14, when every year France celebrates the start of the French Revolution. The reason for the celebration is the end of abuse of power by kings and pretenders to state authority, and their replacement by the democratic rule of law. That revolution, like the annual celebration, isn’t quite over.

What Mueller did this year was to issue what was called, before July 14, 1789, a lettre de cachet – a letter with the royal signet or seal.  In the French practice, this was a combination of indictment, conviction, and order for arrest, confiscation of property,  and punishment of an individual, who had no right in law to know the charge against him; prove the evidence;  appeal the sentence.

The Mueller indictment of twelve officers of the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff) is a fresh US-Government style lettre de cachet. It names the men accused, their crimes,  and the punishment.  The penalties include “upon conviction [the twelve] shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of such violation, and any personal property that was used or intended to be used to commit or to facilitate the commission of such offense.”

Mueller has neither the power nor the intention of trying the accused, or the particulars of his lettre,  in an American court of law. This is why on July 13 he intended to violate the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, first introduced in Philadelphia on June 8, 1789, just a month before the lettre de cachet lost its power in Paris.  The Fifth Amendment says noone shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” (more…)

FOR AND AGAINST IGOR SECHIN – JUDGEMENT BY THE CHIEF MAGISTRATE OF ENGLAND, JUNE 28, 2018

By John Helmer, Moscow

In a ruling issued on June 28 and now publicly available, the Chief Magistrate of England, Emma Arbuthnot, has dismissed an application by Russian prosecutors for extradition of Andrei Votinov. He is charged in Russia with fraud against the Rosneft subsidiary, the Tuapse Oil Refinery. The 33-page judgement is a rare test in an international court of the reputation of Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft.   

Arbuthnot rejected allegations by Votinov that Sechin was persecuting him or that Sechin had played an improper role in Rosneft’s audit and subsequent complaint of fraud.  She dismissed Votinov’s claim that he was being targeted by Sechin because he had “stood against Rosneft’s political support for the regime.”

The judge also rejected the claims by a British academic, Richard Sakwa, who testified on Votinov’s behalf to the court  that the case had been fabricated against him,  motivated by personal vindictiveness on Sechin’s part and by Votinov’s political views.

Nonetheless, Arbuthnot dismissed the extradition request by the Russian prosecutors and released Votinov. Because of “the prominent role of the complainant [Rosneft] in this case and the false statement given by a senior investigator [Murat Tkhakakhov] ,” Arbuthnot wrote in her judgement, “I find the facts in this case lead me to the conclusion that this is one of those exceptional cases where the defendant [Votinov] has shown there is a real risk that he will suffer a flagrant denial of justice if he were to be extradited to the Russian Federation.” (more…)

LAKE BAIKAL DROWNS TO SAVE OLEG DERIPASKA FROM SANCTIONS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Until the moment in April, when the US Government attacked Oleg Deripaska and his companies, including Rusal, the state aluminium monopoly,  his revenues, earnings and profits were looking up, and not only because the aluminium price had been rising. The electricity sale revenues of EN+ were also climbing, even though production of electricity was flat. Profits, most of which flow as dividends to Deripaska and his associates, might have been even greater,  EN+  reported last month to the London Stock Exchange, if not for the reduction of water flow down the Angara River and into Lake Baikal.  Less water through the sluices to the turbines means less electricity and aluminium; that means less profit in Deripaska’s pocket.

EN+ blames the water problem on the weather. Rivers Without Boundaries (RWB), a leading non-governmental organization devoted to protecting Lake Baikal and the river systems which feed it, announced last week that EN+ is to blame for water flow policies which threaten the lake with a combination of flooding in the wet season and reduced waterflows in the dry.  “[The] long-lasting negative social and environmental impacts which go unmitigated for decades,” says Evgeny Simonov of RWB, “are a far greater threat posed by En+ Group to the global security and well-being of the population of Russia than the alleged political implications of its owner’s activity.”

RWB is also charging that last December Deripaska was behind a federal government decree which puts a stop to 16-year old standards for the water volumes entering Lake Baikal from the Angara River.  This decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on December 27, permits a much wider fluctuation in the lake’s minimum and maximum water levels than the Russian government and its experts judged  environmentally safe in 2001.   Medvedev’s decree allows Deripaska to divert more river water into his turbines in the dry season, and release more water in the flood season.

And there’s the rub. Until Deripaska’s profit prospects and share value collided with the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC),  the biggest threat to his profit line was the declining water levels of the river system passing through the Angara River cascade and hydropower complex, and thence to the falling water level of Lake Baikal. For remedy, Deripaska had persuaded the Kremlin to save his profit last December by allowing him to continue generating more hydropower and delivering less water than is good for Lake Baikal. (more…)

SERGEI KIRIENKO’S MEDAL FOR HEROISM, AND THE TALE OF THE DONKEY WHO DID IN THE BISHOP

By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin (left) has appointed his deputy chief of staff Sergei Kirienko (right) “Hero of Russia”, the highest award for personal valour in the table of Russian state decorations.   

Kirienko’s career includes presiding as prime minister over the 1998 default by the Russian  treasury, the only sovereign default since  repudiation of the tsar’s debts in 1918. More recently as head of Rosatom, Kirienko directed the failure to persuade the corrupt South African government to buy $50 billion worth of nuclear reactors.  The money involved in these feats was heroic in value, but until now Kirienko has not been judged to have performed pluckily enough in medallion terms.

Exactly which of Kirienko’s feats have warranted the hero award have not been disclosed publicly because the Putin decree remains a state secret.  Kremlin sources have told the state news agency Tass and other Russian media the decree was signed by Putin early in March, and remained secret until this week.

Asked to explain why Kirienko’s courage should be classified, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said  yesterday : “I do not comment on this message”.  Which is a reminder of the tale of the priest, the donkey, and the press. (more…)

RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY ACCORDING TO THE ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK FOR ACADEMICS

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Routledge Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy is a 450-page compendium by academics who earn modest livings in think-tanks at places in North America or Europe like Louisville, Hamburg, San Francisco, Rhode Island, Edinburgh, West Virginia, South Carolina, Southern California,  Newcastle, Uppsala, Tartu, and Helsinki. In the book Russian academics in Russia are outnumbered by the westerners by 26 to 8; all are on small state-paid livings led by Andrei Sushenkov, programme director at the Valdai Discussion Club. That 14-year old think-tank is financed by the Kremlin information chief Alexander Gromov and the president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.  

The handbook proprietor,  once a well-known 19th century London publisher, is now the US  conglomerate Informa. It operates on the principle of Gresham’s Law – the more information you produce for sale, the less likelihood you will be outsold by the truth.  The Valdai Discussion Club and other think-tank creations in Moscow have been described by President Vladimir Putin as a “propaganda machine” to compete with their Anglo-American counterparts. To a Kremlin sponsored journalist, their output is “political marijuana smoke.”    

The handbook writers must be approaching retirement because they dedicate their work “to the younger generation of scholars of Russian foreign policy”.  The book begins: “The importance of studying Russian foreign policy (RFP) today is as great as ever.” By page 450 this is neither more  obvious, nor less.   (more…)

THE SALE OF ANOTHER CENTURY – THE PUTIN-TRUMP SUMMIT

By John Helmer, Moscow

When cynical and unscrupulous men are desperate, they become as predictable as if they were principled. The difference between such men is hard to tell.

Not since the Alaska Purchase of 1867 have the rulers of Moscow and Washington been as desperate to sell something to each other for a price the press and public opinion on both sides are unprepared to calculate or accept.  When President Vladimir Putin (lead image, left) and President Donald Trump (right) meet in a fortnight, this price will be a secret both of them will agree to keep to protect themselves from adversaries at home more powerful than they are themselves.

With two weeks still to go for preparations, so far only the terms the US side intends to table are in the public domain. No Russian government official, think-tank expert, or reporter has published an account of what the Russian terms will be.

During the Kremlin meeting last week between Putin and Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, one clue was visible. This was the appearance of the Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on the Russian side of table, alongside the president’s foreign affairs advisor Yury Ushakov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Shoigu wasn’t matched by a military officer or Pentagon counterpart on the American side of the table. So Shoigu wasn’t present to speak. He was there to listen, and to report to the General Staff what the US side is proposing – and not less significant, what Putin had to say. Shoigu’s presence was a signal that on the Russian side, the military do not quite trust the president — their own, not the other one. (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.

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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.

(more…)
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