By John Helmer, Moscow

Sergei Skripal poisoned himself by accident on March 4, 2018, in the centre of Salisbury. At the time  he was engaged in an operation, freelance or official, which was known to the British intelligence agency MI6. The two Russians, Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, who visited Salisbury on March 3 and during Skripal’s fateful afternoon,  were a signal from the Russian  military intelligence agency GRU that the Russians knew in advance what Skripal was doing, and wanted the British to know they knew. The two Russians never made it to the front door of the Skripal house in Salisbury; the door-handle wasn’t poisoned; there was no contact between Skripal,  Chepiga,  Mishkin.   Their affair had nothing to do with the subsequent death of Dawn Sturgess after she was poisoned at her companion’s home in Amesbury, near Salisbury, on June 30.

By British legal standards of proof beyond reasonable doubt or the balance of probabilities, there is no case to answer of either attempted murder or chemical warfare.

There is another, more ancient standard for coming to this conclusion.  In the mid-14th century William of Ockham, an English born and Oxford educated cleric, promulgated the maxim that deduction from multiple and competing hypotheses should be made as simple as necessary. His idea has been called, metaphorically, Ockham’s razor. Strop the razor on this dossier,  and then try the razor on the Skripal case for yourself. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

A bad smell is emitted by those who go about their business claiming to be more virtuous than others when they are not. Take Keith (Konstantin) Gessen’s (lead image) newly published autobiography cum novel about his time in Moscow. The word for the book is a cross between the noun fart and the adjective virtuous; that’s to say, fatuous.

Six blurb endorsements covering the dust-jacket can’t improve on this because the endorsers have no expertise or experience of Russia, and are obligated to Gessen personally, institutionally or commercially, by way of Harvard University, Columbia University, the New Yorker, and Gessen’s personal magazine N+1.  In short, they are back-scratchers, log-rollers.

In New York Yiddish, the term for them is mishpocha. That means the family of people who understand what the word means; for them it’s a mitzvah (good deed required by religious duty) to help each other make money.  If you know the meaning of both words, you are ready for the Woody Allen world in which Gessen makes his money. Make that the Woody-Allen-world-before-the-sex-and #MeToo-scandals.

If there’s a difference between that world and the Russia which Gessen’s book claims to be about, this  doesn’t matter to him, and especially not to the mishpocha, whose mitzvah it is to tell you to buy this book.  If you are resisting, there’s a reason for those of you who don’t belong to the mishpocha and who don’t come from New York, to continue reading this review. That’s because Gessen, Russian born and Russian taught though he is, is a perfect example of the American inability to understand two vital lessons for American-Russian relations for the foreseeable future.  

Lesson No. 1:  Americans, the alt-right, alt-left, Clintonites, Trumpies, CIA, FBI and Pentagon  — all of them have failed to understand Vladimir Putin, particularly his weaknesses. Lesson No. 2 follows: the war the US has launched against Russia, a war no American is capable of stopping now, or even slowing down, will produce the very opposite of its regime-changing goal. This opposite, this outcome, is the Stavka – a military regime which has the capital, the force multiple,  the intelligence,  and the relative lack of corruption to defeat whatever Russia’s enemies  throw at it, and enjoy popular approval for doing so.  By the way, the Stavka will have an articulate civilian for spokesman – that’s Vladimir Putin.   (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Wiltshire county police have revealed in separate statements last week that they were at the house of Sergei Skripal within minutes of his having fallen ill on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury last year, in the case which has damaged relations between Britain and Russia beyond foreseeable repair.  

The speed of response was much faster than Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has given reason for at the time; in the eleven months of his tweeting after the incident; or under direct questioning over several days of last week.

“We can confirm that police attended Christie Miller Road in Salisbury on the evening of 4 March 2018”, Macpherson said through a spokesman, “as part of our early enquiries into the incident.” That was not an answer to the question Macpherson was asked.

The new police evidence — an excerpt from the Wiltshire police incident response log and Macpherson’s cover-up of the particulars —   contradicts the allegations the British government and police in London have made that the outside door-handle of the Skripal house had been sprayed by Russian assassins with a “military grade nerve agent” named by the British authorities as Novichok.



By John Helmer, Moscow

The Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley admitted this week that he held a 14-minute hearing into the death of Dawn Sturgess, alleged victim of a Russian Novichok attack last July, but after six months of further  investigations by police, military, intelligence and toxicology experts,  he still cannot hold a formal inquest and decide what caused her death.  

This admission by the coroner, the scheduling of a new coroner’s court hearing on April 15, and the likelihood that this too will be adjourned, now threaten the British Government’s narrative that a Russian-produced nerve agent, sprayed on to a door handle last March, was an attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, and that four months later, a bottle containing the same poison killed Sturgess.   

The admissions from Coroner Ridley on Monday were made as the European Union, prodded by the British Government, has announced new travel bans against the Russian military intelligence agency accused of the nerve agent attacks. “Today’s new sanctions,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday,  “deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organisation, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year.”

Coroner Ridley acknowledges there is no substantiation for Hunt’s allegations in a court of law. Not now, not yet. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

When Gennady Zyuganov (lead image, right) spotted dirt on Oleg Deripaska’s hands (lead image, left) this month in the State Duma, it was the first time in two decades that the leader of the Russian  Communist Party has noticed; or at least dared to say so in public.

Was Russia’s leading communist taking his lead from the US Treasury, which last April imposed sanctions on Deripaska, accusing him of “money laundering… threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.”  Was the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)  taking its cue from this month’s US Senate Resolution No. 2,   attacking the lifting of sanctions on the ground that Deripaska’s control of the state aluminium monopoly Rusal “is just as tight as it was before”?  (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The British state broadcaster BBC and other media have disclosed that the Salisbury house (lead image) owned by Sergei Skripal is to be partially demolished and rebuilt over the next four months.  

A Wiltshire Council notice to residents in the neighbourhood of the Skripal home is the source of the news reports. The January 4 notice, a media briefing by the Wiltshire Council, and a press release by a spokesman at the Ministry of Defence do not say how much of the house will be reconstructed. “We are working with the site owner, Wiltshire Council and other partners to ensure that the house will be fully repaired and returned to a fit state to live in,” the anonymous Defence Ministry official was quoted as saying by the Salisbury Journal. 

The British Government, London and Wiltshire police, and media reports have claimed that a fast-acting, lethal nerve agent was administered to the handle of the front-door of the Skripal house eleven months ago, on March 4. The alleged attackers have been identified by Prime Minister Theresa May (lead image, left) as two Russians. No allegation nor evidence has been reported to date that they or their poison penetrated inside the Skripal residence.   

Two senior Wiltshire Council officials, Tracy Daszkiewicz, Director of Public Health and Protection, and Alistair Cunningham, coordinator of the recovery programme, were asked to clarify how much of the Skripal house will be replaced. Replying today through spokesman David Perrett, they said “there are no plans to demolish the property at 47 Christie Miller Road. The roof and garage roof are being removed and replaced.”

Because the front-door handle was the sole identified site of the attack, and decontamination has been under way for eleven months, the two officials were asked to explain their reason for the reconstruction.  “Every decontamination site is different”, Perrett responded. “Each one has a tailored decontamination plan. As you would expect this site is more complex than others… we are taking a highly precautionary approach and that is why the clean-up work is so extensive and meticulous. It is vitally important we are thorough on all the sites so that local residents can be fully confident that each one is safe when returned to use.”

Perrett added: “In the more contaminated sites some hard surfaces might be removed.”

Angus Macpherson, the Wiltshire police commissioner, told the press on Monday  that Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who entered the Skripal house on the evening of the poison attack and who was hospitalized later for nerve agent exposure,  returned to active duty this week. Bailey has told the BBC he has “lost everything”    in his house.  Commissioner Macpherson, together with Daszkiewicz and Cunningham, were asked to say if the Bailey house is also to be demolished and why. Through Perrett, they answered. “Sgt Bailey’s house has been fully cleaned. There are no plans to demolish this property.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

In the US war for regime change in Russia, the Christmas dinner for the oligarchs was President Vladimir Putin’s idea in 2014 for demonstrating that he was in command of their loyalty for a price  the oligarchs were afraid to test.

Late last month, the dinner was turned into an afternoon tea ceremony in which the oligarchs confirmed for Putin the price he must pay if he isn’t to lose them to the other side. Mikhail Fridman and his Alfa Bank, Vimpelcom and X5 supermarket group demonstrated which side they believe to be strongest in this war by not attending. Their absence shows they calculate the risk of Kremlin sanctions for their business is now zero.

The absence of Arkady Volozh, controlling shareholder of Yandex, the internet services company, reveals the same calculation.

The presence of Anatoly Chubais, head of Rusnano, the state’s high-technology holding, the most pro-American of the oligarchs and one of the most hated of political names in the country,   reflects the calculation  on Putin’s side that there is now no oligarch price the President can risk not to pay.  (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

There’s a reason Albion is well-known as perfidious. Like leopards and spots, it’s because he’s always been that way.

In the 1920s the British secret services pursued Russians in the UK with the same zealous tactics and purposes as they have been doing in the past decade. The partial release of the 1920s archives, documented in a newly published book,  reveals the same fabrications, false flags, contrived press leaks, meretricious politicians and journalists, sanctions, expulsions, and deep state deceptions as the British continue to pursue against Russia today. 

Why is clearer then than now. A century ago, the British government, the country’s military leaders, and media proprietors were all agreed on the necessity of hanging on to the British empire and its colonies, especially India; and to neutralize – if necessary, liquidate – the locals seeking national independence. There were also British business interests in maintaining cheap commodity imports of oil, rubber, wool, and other raw materials in exchange for over-priced machine and manufactured exports into captive markets. The threats of nationalism abroad, unionism and wage bargaining at home were real.  Blaming Russia, Bolshevism and Communism for “meddling” then was an obvious expedient for the police and military measures, and for the state budget funds required to protect the status quo.

But now, without an empire of captive peoples and markets; without army or navy with global reach; without credible British political party alternatives for the domestic terms of economic exchange; and also without Russian ideology to contend with, what explains the revival of Russia-hating as Conservative Party politicians and the chiefs of MI6, MI5 and the Special Branch police practiced it one hundred years ago? This new book is written by an academic who is a true-believer in Russia-hating as British state policy, so he doesn’t answer the question. What can be learned instead from his book are the many flashes of déjà vu — and also the way the flashes, repeated often enough, cause British blindness. For this, the author demonstrates by his own example, there is no cure.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



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

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



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

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.



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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