FAKE TICKETS — FINANCIAL TIMES TOUTS MICHAEL CALVEY

By John Helmer, Moscow

A Financial Times reporter has just published the claim that a London arbitration tribunal decided last Sunday in favour of Michael Calvey’s claims against Artem Avetisyan and Sherzod   Yusupov. Calvey, Avetisyan and Yusupov are Moscow-based shareholders in the merger of  Vostochny Bank and Uniastrum Bank. Counting their combined assets, the re-named Vostochny (Orient Express Bank) is the largest of Russia’s regional banks; the 32nd largest bank Russia-wide. 

The reporter Max Seddon (lead image, left) is concealing that his information was prompted by Calvey’s (second from right) company and his lawyers in violation of the confidentiality rules of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Calvey remains in a Moscow jail, waiting for trial next month on fraud claims by Avetisyan (right) and Yusupov in relation to the Vostochny Bank which Calvey was in the process of selling to Avetisyan until they started to fall out. Seddon and his newspaper have taken Calvey’s side but they have yet to publish the evidence.

The true story of Calvey, his loss-making bank,  and his effort to get out of jail with the aid of the London and New York financial press, can be read here(more…)

MIKHAIL ABYZOV, CAPO OF THE ANATOLY CHUBAIS ELECTRICITY MAFIA AND US ALLY, GOES TO PRISON

By John Helmer, Moscow

Mikhail Abyzov (lead image from 2014) was arrested yesterday on charges of embezzlement and fraud, and is in prison on remand. The case against Abyzov for theft of Rb4 billion ($62 million) from regional electricity companies is the most significant criminal case against a Russian figure so far this year. This is because Abyzov’s fate also threatens Anatoly Chubais, once the head of the state electricity utility, United Energy System (UES); and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for whom Abyzov operated as a political financier and as Minister for Open Government.

“The President received the report [on the Abyzov case] in advance [of his arrest],”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has announced

Abyzov’s application for bail and the prosecutor’s motion for extension of his imprisonment will be considered in an arraignment hearing this morning in Moscow. The Bell, an offshore internet publication representing the US faction in Russian business, reports that Abyzov often travelled to Russia from one of his homes in the US and Italy,  and “did not suspect” he was under investigation. The Bell is reporting today that several others who worked with Chubais in the privatization of UES have already fled the country.  (more…)

THE CALVEY CLAQUE – HOW $329 MILLION IN HIS BANK LOSSES TURNED INTO PROCLAMATIONS OF HIS COMMERCIAL GENIUS AND INNOCENCE OF FRAUD

By John Helmer. Moscow

According to the rule of Soviet law, which Russians over the age of 40 believe, most forms of capitalism are a crime, especially investment banking. By the rule of modern Russian politics, if Alexei Kudrin, German Gref, and Andrei Kostin announce a man is innocent, he is bound to be guilty of something. When the London newspapers claim a man is as innocent of their Russian indictments as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and William Browder, then their culpability is certain.

In the case of American banker Michael Calvey, he was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow on February 14.  He is charged with fraud by inflating the value of an asset he used his control  shareholding in Orient Express Bank (Vostochny Bank is the Russian name) to arrange for the bank to buy at a $37 million profit for himself,  and at a corresponding loss to the bank. He has made two court appearances and declared the charge is false. He has counter-charged two Russian minority shareholders in the bank for trumping up the case in their hostile takeover of the bank.  His trial is scheduled to commence early next month, Judge Artur Karpov presiding.  

The charge sheet has not been released by the court nor by the Moscow prosecutors. Calvey’s  advocates in the press claim he is innocent, but they have not seen the indictment nor the evidence from the bank and transaction records obtained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) before Calvey’s arrest.  Calvey’s lawyer refuses to answer questions. Papers from a Cyprus Supreme Court judgement involving  Cypriot front companies for the bank shareholders have been selectively leaked to the  pro-Calvey press, along with claims he is making in a confidential London arbitration proceeding. The reporters and lawyers won’t release these papers, or details from the asset valuations on which the case for fraud depends. One of the valuations has reportedly been carried out by the KPMG accounting firm; another by the Central Bank which has been inspecting Vostochny Bank’s books since it reached the verge of collapse in 2017.

Calvey raised his shareholding in the bank from 20% in 2010 to 64% by mid-2015. He was the control shareholder of the bank when its losses started to mount in 2013. Calvey was responsible on the bank board for losses in 2014 of Rb5.3 billion ($95 million); in 2015 the losses had almost doubled to Rb9.5 billion ($130 million); in 2016, the losses were Rb4.7 billion ($77 million). The Russian prosecutors haven’t charged Calvey with criminal loss-making, apart from the fraud count which allegedly occurred in February 2017. Calvey’s supporters have no explanation for his earlier mismanagement of the bank’s capital.  The two Russian shareholders whom Calvey accuses, Artem Avetisyan and Shersod Yusupov, didn’t become Vostochny shareholders until the second half of 2016.  That’s after Calvey had supervised accumulated losses over four years of $329 million.

“This is unprecedented. He’s a US citizen,” the Financial Times quoted a western backer of Calvey. He meant the fraud charge. Not the bank’s loss-making. (more…)

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BARK TWENTY YEARS AFTER THE TURKISH CARAVAN MOVED ON

By John Helmer, Moscow

Twenty years ago, on April 25, 1999, the annual memorial service for ANZAC Day at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church of Moscow allowed the Turkish Ambassador to speak from the pulpit, in front of the altar. I walked out, and then protested to the Australian and New Zealand ambassadors – Ruth Pearce and John Larkindale at the time – for inviting the Turk to make a speech to the audience.  It was unfitting to the history of the event for the representative of the enemy against whom the ANZACs fought, and of a country which had invaded and continued to occupy an allied country, Cyprus, to be permitted to speak at the ceremony. The protest was ignored. I became persona non grata at the two embassies. (more…)

ALEXEI KUDRIN PROPOSES TO OFFER THE US GOVERNMENT HALF OF CRIMEA, HALF OF DONBASS, HALF OF THE KURIL ISLANDS, HALF OF SYRIA, AND HALF OF VENEZUELA — GENERAL GERASIMOV PROPOSES TO FIGHT THE US ON ALL FRONTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alexei Kudrin (lead image) is the longest-running candidate for regime change in the Kremlin who is not in jail, or outside the country. “We need a friendly global environment,” he told  a business conference in Moscow last week. Currently chairman of the Accounting Chamber, the state auditor, Kudrin explained this is “currently not being achieved fully due to global geopolitical disagreements and sanctions. Russia should try to reduce this factor and to mitigate political disagreements and sanctions by way of talks and other means.”

Kudrin’s remedy, he added, is that Russia and the US “have to meet each other halfway.” (more…)

OLEG DERIPASKA APPEALS TO THE US CONSTITUTION TO SAVE HIM FROM THE RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY AND ITS US TREASURY AGENTS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska has filed a lawsuit in federal US court in Washington, DC, requesting US help to save him “from… the devastating power of U.S. economic sanctions… in a manner that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.”

Deripaska has also accused the US Government of aiding and abetting the Russian Communist Party by accepting false accusations against him. In court papers lodged last Friday in federal district court in Washington, DC,  Deripaska’s lawyer, Erich Ferrari, claimed that the Communist Party “which holds the second highest number of seats in the Russian Parliament and whose leader has publicly attacked Deripaska and organized rallies against him because of his divestment and relinquishment of control in the companies that were recently delisted by OFAC.  Specifically, Gennady Zyuganov, has called for a criminal investigation of Deripaska for allegedly giving the companies ‘to the Anglo Saxons to control’ and for acting against the strategic policy and national security of Russia.”   (more…)

WHEN THE FRUIT FELL IN THE BASKET — WHAT CAN BE LEARNED NOW FROM MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, THE MAN WHO LEARNED NOTHING

By John Helmer, Moscow

“We have the right to expect,” Mikhail Gorbachev, then President of the Soviet Union, declared to James Baker, US Secretary of State, in Washington on February 10, 1990, “that you won’t just wait until the fruit falls into your basket”.

Baker relaxed. By “right” he knew Gorbachev was holding out a begging bowl. By “expect” Baker  understood Gorbachev was crossing his fingers. By “just wait” Baker marvelled that Gorbachev appeared to be deaf to his advisors and the Soviet chief of staff, Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev.  By “fruit” Gorbachev meant Russia and the Soviet Union. Of course, Baker and his colleagues and successors did more than wait, as Akhromeyev warned they would.  The fruit did fall, Gorbachev first of all.

The lesson of Gorbachev’s political biography is that every Russian has the duty to expect the US Government will be doing much more than wait for Russia to fall into the American basket. Instead, to accelerate the fall and make it irreversible, the US Government wages permanent war against Russia.  Failing to understand this was one of the reasons for Gorbachev’s retreat from the advance of American forces on all of Russia’s frontiers – the advance which President Vladimir Putin must defend against today.

What fresh lessons can an American historian’s study of Gorbachev add to the story which Gorbachev’s subordinates, one-time friends and former  allies have already told in their own memoirs? Lessons which ordinary Russians have acknowledged for years?  The lessons start with the Russian proverb President Ronald Reagan used to repeat at Gorbachev —   Доверяй, но проверяй, trust but verify. This cannot be Russian policy towards the US because it’s never been American policy towards Russia. The correct expression should be:  Никогда не доверяй, они мошенничают —  never trust, they always cheat.  (more…)

THE NEW RUSSIAN RULES-BASED ORDER – PRIVATIZATION OF FISH MEANS RULE BY RICH ANGLERS, POACHING FINES FOR THE POOR

By John Helmer, Moscow

 The new rules-based order.

That’s an expression invented by western politicians for their schemes of Russia warmongering, and for their media, universities and think-tanks to promote the military budgets required.  

In this month’s case of Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister  scheming to replace Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in time to win the election eight months away, the expression means her  rules-based order, not anyone else’s rules-based order. Freeland means Ukrainian rules, not Russian rules; US rules, not Venezuelan rules; Canadian court rules, not Chinese court rules;  and most of all, she means Freeland to rule, not Trudeau to rule.

In Moscow, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “we saw the attempts to usurp multilateral institutions, erode their interstate character and replace universal norms of international law by a sort of rules-based order. This term hides the desire to invent rules based on the political environment and in the interests of using them as a tool for exerting pressure against targeted states, and very often against their allies.” 

In Russia since January 1, there is a new rules-based order.

It’s for fishing in the domestic rivers and lakes. Millions of amateur and sports fishermen across the country are up in rods and nets, if not up in arms, over what the rules will do to them. They accuse the government in Moscow of privatizing the fish with rules to reserve the choicest fishing spots for affluent angling clubs, hotels, foreign tourist companies,   and other outsiders with money the locals lack. By limiting the amateurs to single-line rods and by prohibiting nets,  the new rules-based order makes sure the fish stay plentiful where the well-heeled fishermen want them, turning everyone else into poachers. In this new rules-based order, poachers are easier to net than fish. (more…)

IMMACULATE DECEPTION — WILLIAM BURNS, HILLARY CLINTON’S SECRETARY OF STATE, SELLS AN ICON OF US INNOCENCE TOWARDS RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

O dear! O dear me! O dearie, dearie me!

William Burns is the man who might have been US Secretary of State if Hillary Clinton had been elected President in November 2016. Since then he has been composing an apologia pro vita sua — a book of religious convictions describing what went wrong through no fault of his own or of God’s, explaining what a victim Burns and the United States have been of bad luck; bad timing; President Donald Trump’s “narcissism”, “erratic leadership” and “active sabotage”; and Russian malevolence.

To the ex-Ambassador to Russia and ex-Deputy Secretary of State, the Russian evil is a motiveless, psychopathological crime. Russians, especially the few high-ranking ones Burns met as a State Department apparatchik, can’t help themselves. There is no cause and effect between action and reaction, between US offence and Russian defence. Nothing Christian Brothers alumni and missionary Americans like Burns have done explains (in Burns’s tract) why the Russians behave so badly, and why their souls must forever burn in hell unless they repent. Five hundred pages of holier-than-thou, confessor to the wicked Russians — that’s been the Burns mission. (more…)

INDIA AND PAKISTAN FIGHT — RUSSIA SITS ON THE FENCE

By John Helmer, Moscow

When India, one of Russia’s largest and longest-serving allies, was attacked by Pakistan in Kashmir since mid-February, the Kremlin sent condolences, expressed hope for a “prompt settlement”, and authorized Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to offer to mediate between the ally and its enemy.  “Russia is ready to offer a negotiating platform for India and Pakistan to settle relations”, Lavrov told the state news agency Tass. “If they want to,  of course.”  The display of Russian equanimity and neutrality between its Indian ally and Pakistan, long a US ally, has produced open anger in the Indian media; dismay among senior Indian politicians, civilian officials and military officers.

“Indians would not admit it,” comments an influential Indian in Moscow, “but there are signs that Putin is fence-sitting. Lavrov even proposed mediation. That would be like India proposing to mediate between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. On the one hand, Lavrov says India and China will shape the new world order, but on the other,  he talks like a [US] State Department spokesman.”

For the India-Russia alliance, the question Indians ask is: if not now, then when? Russia’s other strategic allies – China, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela – ask the same thing.  (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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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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