FORCE TALKS – AN APPROACH WITH HOSTILE INTENT TO THE RUSSIAN FRONTIER, AIRCRAFT, SHIPS AT SEA, OR TROOPS IN THE FIELD WILL BE SHOT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Toward foreign enemies, for the first time in a generation, Russian officials have suspended talk of warnings, serious consequences, gravest consequences, red lines, cross-hairs,  and proportionate response;  they have allowed force to speak instead.    

This supersedes the evidence of position, manoeuvre, prior communication, and international law, details of which are still being debated over the incidents of last Sunday off the Crimean coast between Russian and Ukrainian forces. The message of the Russian armed forces command – Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the General Staff, the Defence Ministry, the Border Force of the Federal Security Service (FSB); in short, the Stavka – is clear and unequivocal:  anyone approaching Russian territory with hostile intent will be shot. There is an important corollary: the Russian side reserves the right to decide unilaterally what is hostile intent.

President Vladimir Putin kept silent for three days. There had been an “invasion”, Putin told a  Moscow conference on Wednesday,  of “Russian territorial waters”. It had been contrived by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to boost his presidential election prospects with domestic voters, and “to sell anti-Russian sentiments” to the US and European Union. “If [the Ukrainians] want babies for breakfast, they’ll probably get babies too.”

Russia’s enemies in the western media have personalized Russian policy in the figure of Putin for so long, the significance of his reticence this time is being missed. “As we’ve seen repeatedly before, from the Crimea incidents of March 2014 to the Il-20 downing in September,” a Moscow source in the position to know comments, “the force of circumstances has overwhelmed Putin’s reluctance. He’s not speaking here of ‘understanding’, as he did recently of the Israeli Air Force. When Russian force talks, it’s no longer Putin.” (more…)

PRIVATE BLIND EYE – HOW THE LAST BRITISH INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST TURNS ONE ON RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

With a recently reported circulation of almost 300,000, Private Eye of London is the largest-selling serious affairs magazine in the United Kingdom; it is also the last investigative publication in the country in which truth is the standard.  Its editor, Ian Hislop, is paid to clown on British Broadcasting Corporation radio and television; he also pays investigators to bite the hand which feeds him.

He and his predecessor editors have employed a columnist, pen-named Slicker (real name Michael Gillard),  who is the only investigative journalist in the UK publishing regularly and forensically on the frauds, larcenies, and other crimes and lies ignored or covered up by the mainstream financial media, starting with the Financial Times.

There has been just one topic about which Private Eye, Hislop and Slicker have dropped all pretence at investigation, let alone truth.  Private Eye is as Russia-hating as the rest of  its British bedfellows. That explains why it has resurrected the case of Vladimir Chernukhin v. Oleg Deripaska, as if it has only recently discovered the two-year old High Court records, and is ignorant of the Russian media investigations of Chernukhin stretching back for more than a decade.  What Private Eye has failed to investigate is how Chernukhin has been able to import and invest a fortune in the UK, with the imprimatur of the British Government, financial regulators, and banks – a fortune whose origin when he was a state official in Moscow Chernukhin declines to explain.  (more…)

BBC REVEALS NEW TRUTH-DEFYING EVIDENCE IN SKRIPAL POISON CASE

By John Helmer, Moscow

A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) film, broadcast on Thursday evening, has presented the first direct evidence of Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, the investigating officer who  inspected the home of Sergei and Yulia Skripal about eleven hours after they were exposed, allegedly to the nerve agent Novichok sprayed on their home’s outside door-handle.

Bailey’s testimony corrects some of the British press misreporting and internet speculation about the circumstances of his exposure. But Bailey’s statements, along with other claims broadcast by the BCC, raise new doubts; they settle none of the key forensic questions of who delivered the poison; where Bailey and the Skripals, Sergei and his daughter Yulia, were exposed; what the poison was and where it came from. Importantly, Bailey’s description of his symptoms leading to his hospitalization bears almost no resemblance to the symptoms of the Skripals, and of the Salisbury couple , Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, who were hospitalized in Salisbury for exposure to Novichok on June 30. Sturgess is the only one of the four victims who died.

The BBC’s interviewing of the chief police officer leading the investigation, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, also exposes two vital pieces of evidence for judging the credibility of  the British Government’s charge that the poisoning was a Russian state operation carried out by agents of Russian military intelligence,  the GRU. Haydon does not claim, and the BBC fails to show, any CCTV evidence that the two alleged GRU assassins, Ruslan Boshirov (Anatoly Chepiga) and Alexander Petrov (Alexander Mishkin), came directly to the Skripals’ home to administer the poison to the door-handle. Instead, Haydon acknowledged there may have been others – one or more – in the poison attack.  

Haydon also fails to say that the traces of the poison police later discovered at the London hotel room occupied by Russian duo  were of the same agent as had been found in the bloodstreams of the four victims in Salisbury. Instead, Haydon equivocated. The London evidence, he told the BBC,  were “traces of Novichok which is the same type of Novichok that linked it to the Salisbury poisoning.” (more…)

THE INTERPOL VOTE – US AND UK POLITICAL INTERVENTION SPLITS WORLD POLICE ORGANIZATION DOWN THE MIDDLE

By John Helmer, Moscow

The US and the UK have claimed that Interpol’s vote yesterday for a retired South Korean policeman to be the new president of the global police organization was a convincing defeat of the Russian candidate who was rejected by a two-thirds majority of Interpol’s member states. “Blow to Russia” headlined the London Guardian.   The US Government’s Voice of America reported the ballot as the defeat of the Russian “front-runner in the race”.   “Russia in surprise loss to South Korea”, the British Government’s BBC claimed.  “Blow to Russia… Decision comes after successful push by western countries to thwart Moscow’s candidate”, trumpeted the Financial Times. This was the fake news.

When the tallies of three rounds of balloting by the 162 members of the General Assembly who cast votes are examined carefully, it is clear the Anglo-American candidate, Kim Jong-Yang,  fell short of a two-thirds majority at every round; that the Russian candidate, Alexander Prokopchuk (lead image, log), started with almost 40% of the vote; and that when all the abstentions and absentees among the member states eligible to vote are counted, the outcome of the election was a split of the Interpol membership almost exactly in half.

It is also clear that the six-week Anglo-American campaign to defeat the Russian because he is Russian was a violation of Article 3 of Interpol’s Constitution.  That says: “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.” (more…)

RUSSIAN CAPITAL LEAK IS WORLD’S LARGEST UNDERGROUND LAKE

By John Helmer, Moscow

The outflow of private and corporate capital from Russia is accelerating.

Pressured by the cutoff of incoming investment and bank loans, the closure of Russian depositor bank accounts in Europe, and the threat of asset confiscation in the UK – all ordered by US sanctions with  threats of more to come — the loss of domestic investment funds continues, undeterred,  to squeeze the Russian economy. That is exactly the US war aim.

In the history of warfare against Russia, defending by retreating has been tried before, though this isn’t what Russian capital is doing this time. (more…)

PUTIN MEETS NETANYAHU WITHOUT MINDERS — REVERSES IL-20 FACTS, DEFENDS ISRAEL ATTACK, AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

President Vladimir Putin has announced a change of Russian policy in Syria after disclosing it to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  when they met in Paris on November 11. Netanyahu has reported in Israel that what Putin said was “very important”.

With Netanyahu, Putin was not accompanied by Russian officials and the interpreter was an Israeli. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the meeting was a “short talk”, but  gave no other detail. The Kremlin website did not report it at all. The Kremlin press office refuses to clarify why Putin and Netanyahu met with only Netanyahu’s interpreter present. (more…)

THE KHASHOGGI CASE – EVERYTHING ERDOGAN HAS RELEASED IS FALSE

By Marios Evriviades*, Athens

Can a man gasping for breath as he is is forcibly suffocated with a plastic bag over his head,   articulate his survival problem multisyllabically with a medicalized request to which he invited his killers to consent? “I’m suffocating… Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic”. (more…)

WHAT THE BELLWETHER TELLS

By John Helmer, Moscow

In medieval sheep-herding practice it was customary to hang a bell around a single sheep in the flock to alert the shepherd to where they were heading. The shepherd used to castrate the bellwether ram first, so his bell didn’t ring needlessly. Doubts about his leadership of the flock are natural. Bellwethers in our time are still considered, sardonically, to be sheep who lead the shepherd. Are there Russian bellwethers now, and what are their bells telling? (more…)

AUSTRALIAN HEAD OF STATE APOLOGIZES FOR NOT STRIKING PRESIDENT PUTIN AT PARIS ARMISTICE CEREMONIES

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian head of state, a retired army general, has told an Australian reporter that when he was placed next to President Vladimir Putin (lead image, centre) during the centenary World War I armistice ceremonies in Paris on Sunday, he was sorry protocol disallowed his striking the Russian president .

“It was an uncomfortable position to be in,” Sir Peter Cosgrove (lead image, right),  the Australian Governor-General, led a reporter for Sydney and Melbourne newspapers to publish. “But then, someone had to sit there,   and it was not the time or place for shirtfronting.” Shirtfronting is an Australian football term for a violent charge into the chest of an opponent; it’s outlawed by the  rules of the game. (more…)

THE BEST COFFEE-MAKER IN THE WORLD, SISTO MALASPINA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Sisto Malaspina was killed on Friday outside his Pellegrinis coffee bar in Melbourne, Australia. The police are calling it a terrorist incident related to the war in Syria.

More than fifty years ago, Sisto taught me why nobody in Italy, or in the rest of the world, could make espresso and long black coffee as he could. His secret, he said, was to ask the coffee-drinker what taste between bitter and sweet, strong or weak, he wanted, and then brew it. 

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ANTI-COMMUNISM AS RUSSIA’S NATIONAL IDENTITY IS A ONE-EDGED SAW

By John Helmer, Moscow

The end of the Soviet Union, and the election in 1991, then re-election in 1996 of Boris Yeltsin as President of the Russian Federation, are usually depicted in Russia as a kind of election defeat for the Communist Party as well as of leftwing, socialist or communist policy.  Yeltsin’s destruction of the Russian parliament, elected in 1990, by artillery and special forces units loyal to the Kremlin, wasn’t  electoral. The constitution Yeltsin then drafted wasn’t an electoral mandate either: it was preceded by Yeltsin’s dismissal of the Constitutional Court and followed by a rigged and fraudulent vote to enact  the document.  

For a commentary in Vzglyad  last week to describe the political outcomes of the 1991-93 period as “the rejection by our country of the Communist ideology” is fake history. Just how feeble the fake is in current political terms is revealed by the efforts of the principal anti-communist elements in the country to make themselves appear to be representative, even comprehensive politically under the President, Vladimir Putin, and Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. (more…)

FOUR HARD-TO-LEARN RUSSIAN LESSONS FROM THE US CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION RESULTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

The President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on the eve of yesterday’s elections in the US that “there is no need to delude ourselves hoping that they will somehow clarify things [how Russian-US ties will develop]. So far, there is no definite trend towards normalizing relations.”   This morning, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, said: “The outcome of the elections is in line with the main forecasts. Naturally, both [parties] will try to present the outcome as their victory. But I’m afraid that the US political system will be among losers, becoming even more misbalanced and unpredictable, up to attempts to launch the impeachment procedure.” 

Both officials were speaking mistakenly. The lessons for Russian policy during the two-year campaign just starting for the presidential election of 2020 are clearer than the Kremlin dares to acknowledge because it wishes to avoid a public Russian debate on the choices required. (more…)

CHALLENGING A KREMLIN TABOO — RESUSCITATING LENIN

By John Helmer, Moscow

What better occasion can there be for a fresh assessment of Vladimir Lenin than  the November day when the Russian Government claims to be celebrating the expulsion of the Poles from Moscow in 1612, although most Russians regard the date as the anniversary – the 101st this year – of the start of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

Tariq Ali, a prolific, veteran socialist based in London, has published a book entitled “The Dilemmas of Lenin”. The dilemmas Lenin solved a century ago are spelled out in Ali’s subtitle – terrorism, war, empire, love, revolution. Explicating Lenin’s solutions to those, Ali declares, is necessary to help “those who will come after: the gateway to the future can only be unlocked by the past.”

With one eye on the future and the other on the past, Ali has entirely missed the present. In his attempt to resuscitate Lenin, Ali has fixedly refused to consider Russia now, when the country faces as determined, armed and numerous an encirclement of hostile forces as threatened in Lenin’s time, or since. He has thus missed the particular combination of terrorism, imperial intervention, economic and propaganda war, and revolution which started inside the Russian federation in 1991, and continues in the Ukraine and Syria. Ali’s reason for this blindsidedness is that he has joined the Anglo-American forces in their hatred of Vladimir Putin. Putin, according to Ali, is to be condemned for his antagonism towards Lenin, and his embrace of Stalin. (more…)

THE AUTOCEPHALY CONTROVERSY — BETWEEN BACKING THE CHURCH AND VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION, WHAT DOES THE KREMLIN THINK IT’S DOING?

By John Helmer, Moscow

How many angels can dance on a pin has been an issue of dispute among churchmen for several hundred years. If their livings depended on the credulity of believers, the question would not have lasted as long.

Even without divine intervention, the Russian Orthodox Church is a permanent motion machine in which the houses of worship, clergy, hierarchy, their state-subsidized assets and tax-free incomes,  grow robustly while the number of Russian church attenders and believers is dwindling below the 2% mark. The more the merrier for the fewer the merriest.

This is a paradox which the Russian Constitution instructs the political leadership of the country to be indifferent to. That’s because the Constitution insists  “the Russian Federation is a secular state” (Article 14),  and  “everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, including the right to profess individually or together with other any religion or to profess no religion at all, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious and other views and act according to them” (Article 28). 

Naturally, Ukrainians don’t enjoy the benefits of the Russian Constitution unless they move across the border voluntarily, or because they have been obliged to flee for refuge from the war which the US launched with a coup d’etat in Kiev in February of 2014.  If the Ukrainians were fortunate enough to be protected by the Russian Constitution, there would be no problem for their priests to propose any religious belief they like, and appoint anyone to run their churches as they wish. But since they are foreigners without such a constitution, how is it possible that the Russian Church hierarchy, the Patriarch and Holy Synod, insist they have no such freedom at all — at least not the freedom to declare themselves independent of the authority of the Moscow Church and autocephalous, their churches headed by themselves?

Why did Putin instruct the Kremlin to announce at a meeting of his Security Council on October 12 that he and his prime minister,  foreign minister, defense minister,  and intelligence chiefs, “exchanged views on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine after the Constantinople Patriarchate’s Synod had decided to launch the process of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church, revoking the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, which granted the right through oikonomia [management] to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev, and the statement on re-establishing the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kiev.”

Why then on October 18 did Putin declare  his personal “sympathies” on autocephaly  are with the Russian Church leadership in rejecting  the breakaway by  the Church leadership in Constantinople  and Kiev;  although at the same time Putin added his constitutional duty is “to ensure the opportunity for every person to express their position”?

In theological discourse there may be ample room on the heads of pins for angels to dance. In Russian politics the reason for Putin’s and the Security Council’s position on autocephaly is that they were being shifty.

They were also provoked into the October 12 “exchange of views” by a policy shift in Washington.  On September 13, the State Department said its policy was that “the United States is a staunch supporter of religious freedom, including the freedom of members of religious groups to govern their religion according to their tenets. We therefore believe any decision on [Ukrainian] autocephaly is an internal church matter.”  On September 25, the policy had changed.

According to a statement issued by the State Department spokesman,   “the United States strongly supports religious freedom, including the freedom of members of groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs and practice their faiths freely without government interference. The United States respects the ability of Ukraine’s Orthodox religious leaders and followers to pursue autocephaly according to their beliefs. We respect the Ecumenical Patriarch [of Constantinople] as a voice of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue.” (more…)

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

How little the Germans have changed.

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

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

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

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THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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