MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY AND IGOR SECHIN TRIGGER RELEASE OF ILYA YUROV IN LONDON EXTRADITION RULING

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Chief Magistrate of England, Emma Arbuthnot (lead image), ruled on Friday to dismiss an application from the Russian Prosecutor-General for extradition of Ilya Yurov, the control shareholder of National Bank Trust (NBT) before the bank was de-licensed by the Central Bank and transferred to Otkritie Bank at the end of 2014. It is Arbuthnot’s second judgement  in as many months against Russian prosecutors seeking alleged runaway fraudsters living in the UK.  

In the first case, involving the pursuit by Rosneft of Andrei Votinov, a former Rosneft board director and chief executive of the Tuapse oil refinery, Arbuthnot found that one of the Russian prosecutors had lied about his case to a Russian court. She also considered whether Rosneft and its chief executive Igor Sechin were powerful enough to prejudice the case against Votinov if he were ordered back to Russia. “I find the facts in this case lead me,” Judge Arbuthnot wrote, “to the conclusion that this is one of those exceptional cases where the defendant [Votinov] has shown there is a real risk that [Votinov] will suffer a flagrant denial of justice if he were to be extradited to the Russian Federation.”

Judging Yurov, Arbuthnot decided his extradition to Moscow to face trial is “not made for the purpose of prosecuting him on account of his political opinions. It is being made because he allegedly stole a large amount of money from a bank.”

On the other hand, the judge ruled that because of Yurov’s links to Mikhail Khodorkovsky (lead image, frame rear left) and to Igor Sechin (right), and because of the ongoing Russian prosecution of the former and the interest of the latter in Yurov’s bank, “I cannot see how [Yurov] could not be prejudiced… there is a real risk he will suffer a flagrant denial of justice. His would be a very high-profile prosecution of particular interest to the [Russian state] and these are very exceptional circumstances.” (more…)

DIGGING UP THE DEAD FOR SALE AT THE TIMES OF LONDON — DEAD RUSSIAN AGENTS AND SPIES, THAT IS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Grave robbers used to need special skills to make their living.  Indifference to getting their hands dirty was one; a flexible spine for shovelling in the dark was another.  A nose and throat which didn’t gag at  the smell of rotting flesh was a third. 

John Witherow (lead image, right) , editor of the Times of London, has displayed some talents for his  37-year long rise in the service of Rupert Murdoch. He’s been so keen on grave robbing that once he didn’t realize the corpse he was lifting and selling in his newspaper was still alive. In that enterprise, Witherow’s accomplice was the Moscow correspondent for the Sunday Times, Mark Franchetti (lead image, left).  Their idea was that selling stories about a dead Russian agent was bound to attract paying readers. In January 2005 they tried it with the name of Claudia Wright, who was the Washington correspondent for the New Statesman of London between 1979 and 1986; also my wife.

This month Witherow is trying again, promoting a book by his associate editor Ben Macintyre. The corpse this time is different – it’s Michael Foot, the former Labour Party leader; he died in 2010.  

But Witherow is careless. Macintyre’s new tale gives the lie to the one Witherow and Franchetti dug up about Claudia thirteen years ago. Claudia, they reported then, had tipped off the Soviet KGB to the identity of Oleg Gordievsky, one of the best double-agents the British Secret Service claims to have run against Moscow.  Macintyre says the report of the Claudia tip-off was a lie – “a false lead” according to Macintyre’s source at the CIA. The real tipster he now declares was the KGB’s double-agent at the CIA, Aldrich Ames, who told his handler in Washington, the head of KGB counter-intelligence in the US, Victor Cherkashin.

Macintyre reports also that Gordievsky, with the benefit of hindsight, says the same thing.

Cherkashin  published his own book in 2005.  “Ames also informed us that Gordievsky agreed to spy for MI6,” according to Cherkashin. “Ames identified Gordievsky in March [1985], the month before he started spying for us.”  Like Gordievsky, Cherkashin denied that Claudia had been the tipster.  Witherow and Franchetti ignored what both of them said, then turned their saying it upside down so that they became the Times’s sources for “speculation” about Claudia.

Cherkashin’s book concluded this was “little more than intelligence games. Their connection to real issues of national security…was often peripheral…during the last years of the Cold War, intelligence became a game of penetrating the adversary’s service. It was expensive and superfluous.” Unless you are selling the game to gullible readers. (more…)

DMITRY PESKOV LOSES HIS FOOTING, DEPARTS THIS LIFE

By John Helmer, Moscow

At 19:50 on Thursday evening Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK), one of the largest circulation newspapers in Russia, published an announcement from Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin.  “The Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said that the Kremlin will check information from the investigation of Bellingcat and The Insider on suspects of the Salisbury poisoning of the Skripals where it is claimed that Ruslan Boshirov, accused by London of involvement,  is a member of GRU, Hero of Russia, Colonel Anatoly Chepiga. In the words of Peskov, in the Kremlin [officials] intend to check the lists of recipients from the President of this title. He added that the official position is still unchanged. And it was announced by the President, and the suspects themselves.”

When Peskov claimed the Kremlin “will [sic] check information from the investigation of Bellingcat”, more than twenty-four hours had already passed since he had first seen the Bellingcat report on Boshirov and Chepiga. That Peskov did not already have the GRU file on Chepiga, the Hero of Russia list, and the relationship between Chepiga and Boshirov is impossible.  

The statement has stunned Moscow political sources. Their assessment is that the man who says these things because he believes them to be true, or because he believes Russians and others will believe he is telling the truth, has lost contact with reality. “I have not seen such unprofessional conduct at any time throughout Putin’s presidency,” commented a veteran Moscow publisher. “This means they are  making things up as they go along.”

“Peskov’s last line is the most extraordinary of all. He is saying Putin is running this show and he is doing a bad job of it. Peskov put responsibility for the entire Skripal affair on to Putin, and implied he should deal with it himself. Peskov just threw Putin under the bus.” (more…)

PUTIN CORRECTS MISTAKES BY BITING HIS TONGUE ON TELEPHONE WITH ASSAD AND NETANYAHU

By John Helmer, Moscow

Last week President Vladimir Putin triggered the most serious crisis of his presidency, as the Defence Ministry and the Russian General Staff (Stavka) declared that Putin’s explanation for the downing of the Ilyushin-20 electronic reconnaissance aircraft by Israeli fighters was false, and worse –capitulation to Israel. 

Sources in Moscow report the military’s  loss of confidence in the Commander-in-Chief has not been seen in public since President Boris Yeltsin countermanded orders for Russian military aid to Serbia under NATO bombing between March and June 1999, dismissing Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on the US demand.  

“[Putin] has blundered with Erdogan, with Netanyahu,” commented one Moscow source. “In making all his concessions, one after another, Putin has been watched very carefully. His civilian advisors – [Foreign Policy Advisor Yury] Ushakov in particular – are making mistakes. They expect[ed] the show of strength in Syria would have changed US and European attitudes, and they would listen. They didn’t. So the Russian military have reminded Putin – we told you so.”

On Monday morning, following an unprecedented Sunday briefing at the Defence Ministry, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced measures which Putin has repeatedly dismissed over many years. The  new Russian war policy puts a stop to Putin’s assurances to the US, the European NATO powers and Israel that he was resisting the recommendations of his General Staff.  Putin’s resistance ended on Monday morning. Shoigu and the Stavka ended it. (more…)

GIFT TO THE SULTAN — TEXT OF RUSSIA-TURKEY AGREEMENT OF SEPTEMBER 17, 2018, ESTABLISHING TURKISH PROTECTORATE OF IDLIB

By John Helmer, Moscow

A copy of the Russian-Turkish agreement, negotiated on Monday in Sochi by President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  has appeared. If its authenticity is confirmed, it will mark the first official Russian acknowledgement of partition of Syria, allowing Turkey to resume control of the Ottoman territory in northwestern Syria which was lost following the Turkish defeat in World War I.

According to the published terms,  Putin has agreed to Turkey playing the role of “guarantor” of ceasefires throughout Syria. Putin has also accepted reinforcement and expansion of Turkish military forces in the Idlib governorate according to the formula of “fortification” of Turkish “observation posts”; their number, already twelve, has not been restricted in area or limited in manning and firepower in the new pact. Putin also agreed to “take all necessary meassures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib will be avoided and the existing status quo will be maintained.” This is Russia’s undertaking to prevent the Syrian Government and its forces from reclaiming Syrian territory and resuming sovereingty lost to the US and NATO-backed forces seeking to take power in Damascus.

The full extent of the new Turkish-ruled territory  has been postponed, according to the wording of the Sochi pact. “The delineation of the exact lines of the demilitarised zone will be determined,” Point 4 says, “through further consultations.” This proviso allows Turkish forces to consolidate their territorial control eastward towards Aleppo, under Russian cover, ignoring the Syrian government.

(more…)

PUTIN’S FORFEIT – FROM STRATEGIC MISTAKE TO STRATEGIC DEFEAT IN 24 HOURS

By John Helmer, Moscow

“When people die, especially in such unfortunate circumstances,” President Vladimir Putin said at a Kremlin press conference  on Tuesday afternoon, “it is always a tragedy”. The president was responding to the destruction of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft and the deaths of fifteen crew members during an Israeli Air Force attack on Syria on Monday evening. The Israeli operation was coordinated with British and French commands to spoof, confuse and overwhelm Russian and Syrian air defences.

“It is always a tragedy,” Putin went on – “a tragedy for all of us, for the nation and for the families of our people who lost their lives… In this case, it is more a chain of tragic circumstances because an Israeli fighter did not down our aircraft. It goes without saying that we must get to the bottom of this. Our attitude towards this tragedy is set forth in a statement by our Defence Ministry, and has been fully coordinated with me. As for reciprocal action, this will be primarily aimed at ensuring additional security for our military and our facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic. These steps will be seen by everyone.”

What will be seen by everyone has already been registered. According to Turkey, Putin has conceded Turkish military occupation of the Idlib governorate of northwest Syria, allowing Turkish Army  reinforcements from the west and north,  but preventing Syrian Army operations in defence of Syrian territory. According to Israel, Putin has accepted the Israel Defence Force’s (IDF) air superiority over central as well as southern Syria and a free-fire zone for any target in Syria which Israel regards as hostile, including Russian military operations.  According to the Russian military command, Putin has forfeited his defence of Russian forces in Syria to the combination of Israel, France and the UK, which coordinated the combat against Syria on Monday evening. (more…)

THE MH17 MISSILE GOES HOME TO UKRAINE

By Max van der Werff, Amsterdam*

Today was a remarkable day. For the first time the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation held a press conference about the MH17 case in which it took a pro-active stance, instead of  responding, as it has before,  to challenges from its “partners” in the west. (more…)

MEMO FROM HENRY KISSINGER TO VLADIMIR PUTIN ON IDLIB — A REMINDER OF HOW THE TURKS AND AMERICANS DO THINGS TOGETHER

By John Helmer, Moscow

Greek investigative journalist Michalis Ignatiou revealed on Sunday the classified White House document of August 13, 1974, in which Henry Kissinger persuaded then-US President Gerald Ford that Turkey should be supported by the US in their two-wave invasion of Cyprus, seizing and occupying over a third of the island, deterring the Greek defence of Cyprus, and encouraging the Turks to ignore United Nations (UN) condemnation. According to Kissinger, “the Turkish tactics are right — grab what they want and then negotiate on the basis of possession. But if the Turks run loose on Cyprus, the Greeks could come unglued. We certainly do not want a war between the two, but if it came to that, Turkey is more important to us and they have a political structure which could produce a Qadhafi.”

This month the Kissinger scheme is being revived by the US, with support from Germany, France and the UK, to support Turkey in its seizure of the city and governorate of Idlib, in northwest Syria. Threats of US and NATO missile attacks have deterred the Syrian Army from attempting to reclaim its own territory. President Vladimir Putin has been pressured by the Turks, the US and NATO to delay Russian military support for the recovery of Idlib.

“There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus,” Kissinger told Ford in the Oval Office forty-four years ago.  Substitute Idlib for Cyprus today, and there is no American reason why the Turks should not have Idlib, no matter what UN resolutions on Syrian sovereignty require and the Kremlin supports.  Today, as Putin meets the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, the question to be decided is whether the Kissinger scheme will prevail again. (more…)

MODEST MUSSORGSKY, RUSSIAN SINGING DESPITE WAR AND HUMBUG

By John Helmer, Moscow

Falling for a honey trap of their own imagining is what over-educated fools do.

There is nothing new about the present American belief in the malevolent power of Russia to have penetrated the American mind; that’s to say, American bedrooms, smartphones, chat networks, voting machines, power grids, and most intimate of all, American gun clubs.  It’s an old, familiar phantom – the projection of exceptionalists who are being outclassed in their heads and beaten on the ground. Americans believe they will only be desirable if they are over-powering. That’s their honey trap.  

Between 1968 and 1973, when the American infantry were pinned down by the Vietnamese forces, failing to defeat them with what the US Army and US Air Force thought was their overwhelming superiority of firepower, the ordinary American soldier believed the reason was the inverse of US military capacity. The Vietnamese were  winning, the soldier thought, because of their superiority, not only in fighting spirit, but in arms – ghost tanks, ghost helicopter gunships,  etc.

Since the end of Soviet rule, it was to be expected that Russians would abandon their own exceptionalist ideology and become infatuated by American and European things of every description, including things to spend money on, and safe havens to luxuriate among those things. It’s also to be expected that time is required before Russian things can be valued for their own sake by Russians. (more…)

FIRST STRIKE – WASHINGTON SAVED FROM THE VEKSELBERG BUNKER-BUSTER BOMB

By John Helmer, Moscow

The newest type of American bunker-busting bomb is expensive. So it’s understandable that the United States Air Force (USAF) doesn’t want a Russian to sabotage the bomb by installing steel casings which break apart before landing, or fuzes which detonate prematurely, or tail kits flying off- target, or warheads which bounce instead of bust.

On April 6, the US Treasury dropped a bunker-buster on the Russian oligarch Victor Vekselberg (lead picture, top) in an attempt to destroy the worldwide business of his Renova group of companies. The US Treasury declared  Vekselberg had been targeted “for operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy.  Vekselberg is the founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Renova Group.  The Renova Group is comprised of asset management companies and investment funds that own and manage assets in several sectors of the Russian economy, including energy.”

Vekselberg has also owned 26.8% of the Swiss steelmaker Schmolz+Bickenbach (aka Swiss Steel, S+B), which in turn owns all of the US steel forgings specialist, A. Finkl & Sons (aka Finkl Steel) of Chicago. Because the loss-making Swiss group was counting on the USAF bomb contract to boost revenues and profits from Finkl — it accounts for about 10% of S+B’s annual revenues — it was a sore point for the loser of the bomb contract, Ellwood National Forge Company of Ellwood, Pennsylvania,  that a Russian under sanctions might get his hands on the bomb deal, and even on the bomb itself. (more…)

THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME – THE SECRET IN THE CLINTON-YELTSIN PAPERS WHICH THE KREMLIN SPOKESMAN REGRETS TO SEE EXPOSED IS THE LOVE OF SUBMISSION

By John Helmer, Moscow

The records of the relationship between President Boris Yeltsin and President Bill Clinton, declassified for public reading since July, are revolutionary, but not for the reasons the Russian and US state media, journalists and academics on both sides chose to report last week.

That Yeltsin was ingratiating, wheedling, sycophantic towards Clinton is no surprise. In  desperation to survive politically in  the first half of 1996 and cardiologically in the second half of that year  Yeltsin begged Clinton for billions of dollars and the best American heart surgeons   — this too is well-known. It was just as well-known then, and again now, that the two of them schemed for a degree of American intervention in Russian domestic politics much greater, and far more potent, than the Hillary Clinton allegations of Russian intervention in the US since 2016.

It is also no secret that Yeltsin was more fearful of Yevgeny Primakov, foreign minister (1996-98) and then prime minister (September 1998-May 1999)  than any other Russian politician of the time;  and that Yeltsin picked Sergei Kirienko to be prime minister in 1978  and Vladimir Putin prime minister in 1999 because he regarded them as obedient ciphers who would follow his orders without questioning. About Primakov to Clinton, Yeltsin had nothing good to say. By contrast, Kirienko, Yeltsin told Clinton on the telephone on April 6, 1998, was “a very vigorous politician, a very skilful politician, and I think he’ll build good rapport with [Vice President Albert] Gore.”  

Putin, Yeltsin said in a telephone call on September 9, 1999, was dependable. He is “a solid man…thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners.” In another telephone call on November 9, 1999,  Yeltsin described Putin to Clinton as “a democrat and he knows the west… He’s tough internally, and I will do everything possible for him to win, legally of course. And he will win. You’ll do business together. He will continue the Yeltsin line on democracy and economics and widen Russia’s contacts.”

The revolutionary secret to have tumbled out is that no Russian position of any importance was ever acceptable to the US; that negotiations between the presidents and their subordinates achieved nothing but Russian concessions and the American conviction that reciprocation wasn’t necessary; that this was the decade-long US strategy; and that then — and still today — negotiations between Russia and the US can never be settled except on Russian capitulation to US terms. This is revolutionary because until now the Kremlin refuses to acknowledge it.

That war is the only alternative to capitulation has obvious revolutionary implications — and not only for Russia and the US.

The second revolutionary secret to have been revealed is that these records have been eligible for declassification and public release by the Clinton Presidential Library at the ten-year mark from the record date; this means from 2006 to 2009.  The additional decade of blackout for these records has been accepted by ex-president Clinton himself and the Obama Administration, not because they favoured it, but because they asked the Russians to agree, and the Kremlin  refused. Last week  Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman,  made the point that the president was unhappy at the disclosure.     This time the Americans, according to Peskov, “did not coordinate it or hold any consultations. These [records] are not always liable to declassifying.”

The secret in the Yeltsin-Clinton archive revealed for the first time is the secret President Putin didn’t want anyone to know. Anyone Russian, that is. (more…)

MORE ON THE SKRIPAL CASE – “WE ARE ALL SUFFERING FROM AN OVERDOSE OF INFORMATIONAL NOVICHOK”

By John Helmer, Moscow

For the discussion with Chris Cook, listen to today’s interview  on Gorilla Radio from Victoria, British Columbia, commencing at Minute 34:50.

Gorilla Radio is broadcast every Thursday by Chris Cook on CFUV 101.9 FM from the University of Victoria.  The radio station can be heard here.  The Gorilla Radio transcripts are also published by the Pacific Free Press. For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open.

THE NEW ALLEGATIONS IN THE SKRIPAL CASE, AND THE STANDARD OF PROOF

By John Helmer, Moscow

The idea that a picture is worth a thousand words is only a century old. As old, that is, as publishing newspapers profitably has depended on selling advertisements to catch the eye of credulous readers.  Released in London yesterday, pictures of two Russians suspected of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal on March 4 are advertising. If being credulous makes you uncomfortable, try applying the burden of proof as British law requires in cases of murder. (more…)

RICH RUSSIANS TELL SOCIOLOGIST THEIR SECRET, THEIR WEALTH CAME FROM THEIR GENES — CARTOON JUST RELEASED BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY

By John Helmer, Moscow

Botanists can’t say for certain how many hoary old chestnuts, if planted in the right conditions, will turn into a stand of Castanea sativa; that’s the botanical name for chestnut trees.

It’s more certain that when Oxford University recently published a book of interviews with eighty wealthy Russians, conducted by a sociologist from Aston University in Birmingham, the outcome, entitled Rich Russians – From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie,   is a “unique inside-look at the history and soul of the fabulously rich Russians…a must-read”. That is according to Derk Sauer on the book wrapper. Half of this certainty comes from the fact that for the past twenty-five years Sauer has been the paid mouthpiece for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, then Vladimir Potanin, and finally Mikhail Prokhorov whose wealth is oligarch sized.  A small fraction of their money made big sums in Sauer’s pocket and in his judgement,  of course.

The other half of the certainty comes from the fact that the new book’s author, Elisabeth Schimpfossl, is the first in modern sociology to replace standard sampling procedure according to which researcher selects subjects by a random or representational method.   In this case it was the reverse — the sample of 80 rich Russians picked Schimpfossl and told her what they wanted to read about themselves. Their reason was equally certain. Schimpfossl was their public relations opportunity. PR agents for some of the sample subjects were instrumental in setting up the interviews and the ground rules; some of the PR agents were interviewees themselves.

The ground rule Schimpfossl accepted as the precondition for her research was that she would never question her rich Russians about their business or their assets — where their money came from; how much of it was stolen by Russian or international legal standards; how much of it is owed to Russian or international banks, or to partners of the silent type who don’t give interviews, not even if promised, as Schimpfossl proposed, to disguise them with false names.  Just how false the disguise turns out to be starts with this conclusion of Schimpfossl’s on Russian politics in her introduction: “the oligarchs’ capture of the state in the 1990s was short-lived.” After that, the 75 rich Russians whom she quotes from her sample of 80 feed her their hoary old chestnuts — what they want everyone to think.

(more…)

AUSTRALIAN TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT – RUSSIA-HATERS FALL OUT AMONG THEMSELVES, PRIME MINISTER REPLACED – NEWS FLASH! MOSCOW DID NOTHING

By John Helmer, Moscow

When the Australian Government was overthrown a few days ago, nothing and nobody Russian was blamed in the local media for interfering.

According to the ousted Liberal (conservative) Party Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the “insurgency” was a plot by media owned by Rupert Murdoch and a group of conservative MPs led by Peter Dutton, an ex-vice squad policeman who shaves his skull and has run Australia’s secret services with an order to roll down their shirtsleeves to conceal their tattoos. Murdoch and Dutton failed. For the time being, power has been taken by a religious zealot called Scott Morrison. His belief in God speaking in tongues has, so far, not led his own tongue to wag blamefully in Russia’s direction.

The absence of fake news about Russia might have been news in Australia had not the national consensus on Russia-hating been comprehensive, covering all the political parties, factions and ethnic lobbies; all the media, mainstream, alt and social; and all the universities and think-tanks, so there’s no advantage for anyone to repeat the obvious. (more…)

THE YALE SCHOOL FOR AMERICAN GRAND STRATEGISTS, FOR REPEAT LOSERS

By John Helmer, Moscow

There’s not been an American war which John Lewis Gaddis doesn’t think was a good idea, speaking as if he was Thucydides, the ancient Athenian general and historian of whopping mistakes of calculation in warfare.

Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face was not an idea Thucydides thought a good one. Nor was he as blind to the significance of losing wars for Athenian strategy as Gaddis is  blind to the string of lost (outright or unwon and continuing) wars fought by the US — the Korean War, Cuban War, Vietnam War, Afghan War, Iraq War, Libyan War, Syrian War, and war against Russia. Gaddis even disapproves Robert F. Kennedy’s 1962 public acknowledgement that the US war against Mexico which resulted in the annexation of Texas was “unjustified”.

By the Gaddis standard of strategic success – that’s outcome matching aim, cost proportionate to gain — the last wars which Washington won were those against Mexico, Spain, the Philippines, the Caribbean Banana Wars, and the American civil war (Gaddis assumes the Indian wars were strategic successes too, but doesn’t dare say so in print.). He concedes World War I and World War II were strategic successes for the US in the sense that compared to the American allies, for a relatively small expenditure of men, blood and materiel, the US took an enormous cash profit and investment dividend, not to mention imperial sway. For the textbook on why the US is now losing that, Gaddis is the perfect specimen; this is because his primer reveals the teacher can’t recognize the writing on the wall, er blackboard. (more…)

JOHN HELMER APPOINTED SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR PRESERVATION OF RUSSIA-OLIGARCH CULTURAL LINKS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Announcement just released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Information and Press Department: “Prominent investigator and martial writer John Helmer has been appointed Special Representative for Russia-Oligarch Cultural Links, Cultural and Historical Heritage in a voluntary capacity. The special representative will perform his duties without any financial remuneration and for the purpose of strengthening direct contacts, mutual understanding and trust between the Russian people and the oligarchs.” (more…)

RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”

(more…)

IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

(more…)

THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.

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