THE RUSSIAN INTEREST IN THE KHASHOGGI CASE

By John Helmer, Moscow

A man loses his life while he’s on a mission for one or two countries’ secret services in their attempt to change the regime of a third country. It’s a life or death risk he’s running but he calculates he’s well protected.  He miscalculates; the outcome is fatal.

The third country’s regime miscalculates too. Their agents hastened his death (manslaughter), possibly murdered him (premeditation); they certainly disposed of his corpse (class-3 felony). As they made their escape, their aircraft was intercepted in the air over the first country, but the ruler of that country allowed the aircraft to fly on safely. Almost everything subsequently announced by officials of each of the three countries, or leaked by them to their media; also, almost everything announced by employers and spokesmen for the dead man, is incomplete, misleading, fabricated, disinformation, or  bald-faced lies.

This is the case of the dead Jamal Khashoggi (pronounced ), willing agent of the US and Turkey for regime change in Saudi Arabia.

None of this involves Russia directly, and until now there’s been no blame cast at Russia’s secret services, the General Staff, or President Vladimir Putin for what has happened. Not even if Russian interests benefit, have the Russia-hating media and the US Congress accused Putin of masterminding the Khashoggi case. But strategically in the Middle East, and tactically on Russia’s war fronts in Syria, Iran, and the Balkans, Russian interests do benefit – although not a single Russian politician, security analyst, academic expert, or media commentator will say so.

They think that gloating or schadenfreude, the satisfaction felt from another’s misfortune, especially an enemy’s, is impossible for Russians in the Khashoggi case because it’s much too complicated. (more…)

UNEXPLAINED WEALTH OPERA — OLEG DERIPASKA, VLADIMIR CHERNUKHIN, AND LOLITA DANILINA SING IN LONDON

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska has been in love, tough love, with the High Court in London for years. That’s to say, he regards the court as one of his personal appendages with which to pummel his rivals into doing what he demands.   Since 2005 the court record shows Deripaska has been a principal, plaintiff or defendant, in 95 cases. That represents an average of more than seven Deripaska cases per year; one case every two months.

Four of the most recent ones   stand out differently from all the rest, but Deripaska doesn’t quite. Instead, he is financing Lolita Danilina to sue her former lover, Vladimir Chernukhin, a one-time  Finance Ministry  and Vnesheconombank official, for his share of the Moscow real estate on which stand several of Deripaska’s businesses. Chernukhin has already won a London arbitration proceeding for $95.2 million in compensation from Deripaska for his half-share of the property.  To avoid paying, Deripaska  engaged Danilina to sue Chernukhin,  claiming that because her name was on the property papers,  she, not Chernukhin, should get Deripaska’s money. Her agreement with Deripaska is that if she wins, Deripaska will give her a tenth of the payment and keep the rest for himself. In the meantime, the British judges have ordered Deripaska to give the court control of shares worth $245 million as security in case Chernukhin wins.

Two other things stand out in the case. One is that it is the first time a British court has exposed the illegality of an intelligence report by C, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Actually, a report by Sir John Scarlett (C between 2004 and 2009) who retired to operate his own private intelligence agency called SC. Scarlett was hired by Chernukhin to compile a dossier on Danilina proving she had been no more than Chernukhin’s front, and is now Deripaska’s front. The court acknowleged the likelihood that Scarlett’s report was a violation of Danilina’s information privacy.

Last, though hardly least, is a veracity which everyone who has investigated Chernukhin in Russia suspects, but noone has mentioned in the London litigation. This is the suspicion that Chernukhin acquired his assets by corrupt means, diverting dozens of millions of dollars out of his bank and into his own pocket, as well as taking bribes from Russian borrowers whom Vnescheconombank financed, either with loans no other bank would approve, or loans not intended to be repaid.

By the legal doctrine of clean hands, Chernukhin should not expect a British court to award him property he gained by an unlawful enterprise of his own. “A dirty dog”, according to a well-known explanation of the British law, “will not have justice by the court”.  So far in the proceedings, noone has argued this doctrine against Chernukhin. Chernukhin himself through his London lawyers refuses to explain where his money came from to buy such valuable real estate with Deripaska, nor the source of more than $135 million in commercial real estate he has subsequently  acquired in London, an airplane worth another $25 million, and Conservative Party  investments he and his wife have  made of more than a million pounds.  

Chernukhin and his London lawyers were asked “how Mr Chernukhin explains the lawfulness of the sources of his substantial wealth from which he has made asset purchases in the UK exceeding £150 million, quite apart from the $100 million shareholding claim on Mr Deripaska.” The lawyers refused to answer, referring instead to Chernukhin; he refused to reply.  According to their spokesman, “please also note I shall not respond to any further emails from you in this respond.” (more…)

THE HOUSE OF GOVERNMENT — A SNIDE HISTORY OF AN ELITE MOSCOW APARTMENT BUILDING, FROM CALIFORNIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

“I consider myself a person from here” Yuri Slezkine, a US historian, told a Russian interviewer  in May.  “I feel at home in the elements of the Russian language and within the Russian cultural tradition. I live and work in America, but it is incredibly important to me that my local colleagues and interested readers learn about this book and take it as part of Russian scientific and literary life.”

The book he’s produced is, however, for Americans. Titled, The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution”, the work was published by Princeton University Press, and released for sale a year ago. Russian press reports of the book started in February of this year. Pushkin House, a Russian exile operation in London, short-listed the book for its annual prize in June. The BBC Russian Service broadcast and published a lengthy interview with Slezkine and promotion of his book in August.  A Russian translation is still in the works, according to Slezkine.

For those at Russia Insider, Unz Review, The Saker and others in the American agitprop literature, which is Orthodox Christian and Romanov royalist, the book does much to support their line that the evils of the Russian Revolution, not to mention all left-wing thought in Russian, are by origin and cause, Jewish. Also, for those Americans, the Clintonites and Deep Staters who have been propagating a theory of Russian global conspiracy in order to advance their careers and businesses and support wars to destroy Russia’s capacity to function as international economy and defend its frontiers and people, Slezkine provides graduate-level accreditation. .

Slezkine acts as if he is unaware of or indifferent to the context in which he’s been scribbling away, paid by three state-financed entities – the National Endowment for the Humanities,  the American Council of Learned Societies,  and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. Look carefully at the funding and administration of these agencies for he who pays for the tune Slezkine is piping.     

But then it’s not quite a history Slezkine claims to have produced; rather a work of literature (aka novel). That it’s the latter ought to be obvious from four of his facts. According to Slezkine, the number of registered tenants of the building in 1935 was 2,655.  Turnover by October 1941, when the German military advance on Moscow triggered evacuation and Slezkine’s story stops, added about 100 more. Between 600 and 800 workers were employed at the House of Government over the decade. The number of subjects of his history whom Slezkine identifies in an appendix comes to precisely 66.   You don’t need to be a professor to realize this is a study sample of between 1.5% and 2.5%; that’s less than the standard measure of sampling error.   

So Slezkine has fashioned a history fake. It’s one more demonizing nail for driving into the coffin of the demon, as the US Government, the mass media, and the stipendiary American intelligentsia characterize Russia and Russians. A fresh item on the reading list for aspiring war-fighters on why Russia deserves to be destroyed. (more…)

MEDVEDEV NIXES NOTCHED, PICKS PEAKED — LAPELS POINT TO PRIME MINISTER FOR LIFE

By John Helmer, Moscow

For as long as President Vladimir Putin (lead image, right) intends to remain president, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (left) intends to remain his successor in waiting. He made this visibly obvious  in an appearance (lead image)  in Brussels last Thursday and Friday, though it’s not yet officially so.

The signal the two Russian leaders have chosen – a unique one in the history of European and American leaders of state —  is one which kings display on their chests. That’s peaked lapels instead of notched lapels on their suit jackets. Until Putin in February 2017, and now Medvedev, the last president in Moscow to wear peaked lapels was Mikhail Gorbachev. But by the time he did that in August 1991, he had just five months left in power.  (more…)

WHERE’S THE CORPUS DELICTI — THE SKRIPAL CASE, THE GORILLA INDICTMENT

By John Helmer, Moscow

By the standards our police, prosecutors, and judges are required to follow, the cases presented so far by the British Government in the Skripal poisoning and the Dutch Government in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 shoot-down fall short by a long way. Worse than unprovable to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt, they are unpresentable in a court of law. So long as this is so, the particulars of the offence presented in the media are no more than guesswork with political objectives, local and international.

The recent Dutch Government presentation of evidence of Russian espionage around the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) proves no more than that the Russians were looking for evidence of the weapon in the alleged poisoning.  That was evidence which had been officially requested by the Russian Government from the British Government, and been   refused.

The British refusal was a violation of Article IX of the OPCW’s Chemical Weapons Convention For details of what Russian espionage then found, read this

At the civil court standard of proof on the balance of probabilities, the published British evidence proves there were Russian espionage agents in Skripal’s town  on the fateful day. That doesn’t prove what the agents or Skripal himself did in what may have been –speculation alert! unpresentable in court!– an accident in handling hazardous substances, Skripal’s mishandling;  Russian spies monitoring a British spy operation with Skripal on the British side;   or a crime against Skripal.  Until Skripal himself is cross-examined in court, or presents himself in front of the press, we aren’t getting closer to knowing which.  

In the annals of true crime – that’s to say an indictment which the Director of Public Prosecutions will present with his or her name on it in court — the Skripal case is unique. No corpse or corpus delicti;  no weapon;  no witness; no culprit;  no modus operandi;  no chain of custody for the evidence. (more…)

KREMLIN ENDORSES KUDRIN CAPITULATION TO US “RESTRICTIONS”

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Kremlin through Dmitry Peskov, the President’s spokesman, has endorsed Alexei Kudrin’s call for changing Russia’s foreign and defence policy to save the country from American sanctions. “We can perhaps agree with the point of view [of Kudrin],” Peskov said, “   except [that the reason] is not the foreign policy of Russia, but the international situation that is developing – the situation of pressure on Russia, unilateral actions in the trade and economic field, illegal restrictions and the terrorist threat.”

Peskov also wished Kudrin many happy returns for his 58th birthday. (more…)

KUDRIN BIDS FOR OLIGARCH SUPPORT – CAPTAIN ALEXEI AMERICA VERSUS GENERAL SERGEI OF THE RUSSIAN ARMY

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Anglo-American candidate to be President of Russia, replacing Vladimir Putin, reprivatizing Russia’s resource assets, and emasculating the country’s defences, has made a fresh pitch.

Alexei Kudrin, sacked as Finance Minister,  demoted as presidential economic adviser, then appointed  Chairman of the Accounting Chamber five months ago,  gave a speech to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) in Moscow on Wednesday. “Today”, Kudrin declared, “Russia’s foreign policy should be subordinated to the reduction of tension in our relations with other countries and, at least, to the preservation or reduction of the sanctions regime, not to the build-up. Today I would measure the effectiveness of our foreign policy on these indicators. We do not have such global problems for Russia —  risks of military and political importance which would require increasing tension with other countries.”

By other countries, Kudrin means the United States. By subordinating Russian foreign policy, Kudrin means withdrawal from Syria; from Crimea and the Donbass; and capitulation to US sanctions. By reduction of tension, Kudrin means regime change in the Kremlin – himself instead of Putin.

Kudrin’s speech was a deviation from his official role as the state auditor that is unprecedented for the post; Kudrin’s predecessors, Sergei Stepashin and Tatiana Golikova, had been ambitious politicians and ministers of state in their time, but they did not advocate their own views on foreign and defence policy outside the state budget that is the Chamber’s remit. Kudrin’s speech was at the invitation of the executive council of the RUIE; that’s the Russian business lobby. The speech was Kudrin’s opening bid – he’s opened this bidding before — for the oligarchs to back him against the Russian military and security establishment.   (more…)

TAIL WAGS DOG – DID THE SWISS SPIEZ LABORATORY REPORT UNCOVERED BY RUSSIAN ESPIONAGE EXPOSE THE OPCW, BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN FAKING SKRIPAL EVIDENCE?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Did the Russian espionage operation at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague last April succeed before the Dutch counter-intelligence agents stopped it and caught the Russian agents? 

Did the report of an OPCW laboratory investigation of the Skripal poisoning, released publicly in Moscow the day after the Dutch arrests, reveal that by computer hacking the Russians were able to prove that OPCW’s Technical Secretariat and former Secretary-General Ahmet Üzümcü, together with the British Government, had been falsifying the evidence in the Skripal case, and violating the OPCW charter by keeping that evidence secret from OPCW member states? (more…)

TOP SECRET//NOFORN/– THE RUSSIAN CORPORATE MANAGEMENT REASON FOR OPERATIONS THAT GO WRONG

By John Helmer, Moscow

Until mid-April, almost six months ago, the performances of the British, Dutch, Ukrainian and American intelligence agencies in producing evidence to explain the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury were about equal in fabrication quality and standard of proof; equally poor.

The four services had no need to use espionage tools or hack into the Netherlands-based organs investigating the missile attack and the poisoning. That is because their agents walked through the front doors of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB),  the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); took seats at their internal proceedings;  and were given unrestricted access to their files.  The agents of the four services also dictated the findings which have been published by the DSB, JIT, and OPCW;  they have jointly agreed to withhold release of material evidence.

It has taken much longer for investigations by British, Dutch and other independent researchers to prove their fabrications and disinformation. The Russian contribution to this effort has been positive, though delayed, incomplete and contradictory, in the MH17 case; it has been negative in the Skripal case.

Then on April 13, four Russians were arrested in The Hague, the Dutch capital, in circumstances and on evidence suggesting they and their alleged employer, the Main Directorate of the General Staff (GRU), were attempting to spy on the OPCW by electronic means. Official disclosure of what they were doing was delayed for six months until this Thursday. The exposed Russian operation threatens to compromise the veracity of much of the independent investigations of the MH17 and Skripal cases.

How could the four middle-aged operatives and their superiors at GRU have miscalculated the risks and costs of being caught, as compared to their estimate of the gains of their OPCW operation, if they had got clean away?

One clue to the answer can be found at page 24 of the Dutch military intelligence dossier, titled “operational modus operandi”. In the baggage of the four Russians were two wads of unspent cash — €20,000 and $20,000. (more…)

THE LAST OLIGARCH STANDING – ALISHER USMANOV ATTACKS VLADIMIR POTANIN

By John Helmer. Moscow

Alisher Usmanov (lead image, left) has announced that the Russian oligarchs have almost died out.

Not counting himself, he claimed in a television interview on the weekend there is only one oligarch left. “I think we have one passenger in this car, it is already empty, and he sits alone — still rolling along. He is an oligarch. And he knows that about himself. He lost everything but one company, which is why he stays in it. And there are no more oligarchs.”

Asked whether he meant Roman Abramovich or Oleg Deripaska, Usmanov said they are “big businessmen, leading businessmen, the best businessmen, talented businessmen, and so on, and so on.” 

Another oligarch said through his spokesman that “for sure” Usmanov was speaking of Vladimir Potanin (lead image, right).

Almost every Russian in the land believes Usmanov is lying. According to a nationwide poll  in April, 94% said they consider there are oligarchs in Russia; 3% said there are not; and 3% said it was difficult for them to answer.

A poll of the leading business editors and reporters in Moscow this week, plus bankers and the staffs of the oligarchs themselves, also found it difficult to identify whom Usmanov was referring to as the last oligarch. These sources mentioned so many names that the poll demonstrates the opposite of what Usmanov is claiming. But none of the journalists wished to be named themselves. This reveals not only that they believe the oligarchs continue in wealth, but also that they are powerful enough to attack any reporter whose remarks they don’t approve of. (more…)

ANGER THERAPY IN WARTIME

By John Helmer, Moscow

On Monday President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded to British and American press reports about the Skripal case by saying the Kremlin had decided not to respond.   “We will no longer talk with the media. The BBC cannot confirm anything; the BBC can put forward an assumption or something else. Since the whole discussion has been conducted at the media level, we, as the Kremlin, no longer want to take part in that discussion.”

On Wednesday, in a speech to the international oil and gas industry,   the state news agency Tass reported President Putin as declaring:   “Some media outlets are trying to put forward the idea that [Sergei] Skripal was practically a human rights defender. He is simply a spy and a traitor to his country. He is just scum (подонок) and that is it.”

(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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