MAY DAY! MAYDAY!

By John Helmer, Moscow

Every spring, when it’s certain no more snow will fall on Moscow, it helps to remember these things, and look forward with hope.    (more…)

RUSSIANS GO BANANAS IN PHILIPPINES, PROMISE INVESTMENT OF $600 MILLION

By John Helmer, Moscow

This is the Bangsamoro banana, and somebody is slipping on it.

On April 4 two young business partners, a Russian named Lev Dengov and a Turkmen, Merdan Gurbanov, with no known source of capital or past business record, signed an agreement to invest almost $600 million in the Bangsamoro region of the Philippines island of Mindanao. Their agreement commits them to creating one of the largest plantations on the island to grow bananas and pineapples for export;  the development of the regional  port of Polloc for storing and shipping the fruit; and the supply of Russian fertilizers to Filipino planters.

Presiding at the agreement signing was Emmanuel Piñol, the Agriculture Secretary and minister in charge in the Philippines Government. Two weeks later, Piñol publicized the extraordinary deal to the Russian press. Since then, however, he refuses to say how the deal was arranged; where the money will be coming from; and how the investment will be protected in an area which has been a battleground  between government forces and Islamic secession movements for the past fifty years.

Dengov and Gurbanov have also gone incommunicado, leaving behind them a trail of plans for corporate registrations around the world, a six-month old company on the register of UK Companies House;  and a prospectus for a $400 million investment in a self-service crypto-currency payment system in Russia and the CIS states.

Planters Products Incorporated (PPI), the Filipino fertilizer importer which signed in the deal with Piñol,  Dengov and Gurbanov, has cut off its telephone line; its executives don’t answer their emails.

Five of the leading banana importers to Russia, which source most of their fruit from Central and South America, won’t say what they know about the Bangsamoro Banana project, or even if they think a new scheme of importing bananas and pineapples from the Philippines might be commercially viable at any price. (more…)

REUTERS BITES OFF TONGUE IN US WAR AGAINST VENEZUELA – ROSNEFT FORCES WITHDRAWAL OF NEWS FABRICATION

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Reuters news agency has published a retraction of an “exclusive” report on operations between the Venezuelan and Russian state oil companies, PDVSA and Rosneft, after disavowing the US-supplied source. Reuters has also acted after Rosneft applied for a criminal investigation of the media company’s operations in Russia by Moscow prosecutors.

The acknowledgment of misreporting has exposed evidence that Reuters’ reporters and bureaux in Caracas, Venezuela, Mexico City, Houston, London and Washington are routinely relaying disinformation supplied by US Government agents in their attempt to damage Venezuelan, Russian, Indian and Chinese operations in the international oil market.

According to a publication by Reuters issued on Tuesday, April 23 –  but made to appear to have been published on April 18 – the news agency has admitted it “could not determine” its earlier allegation that a “scheme uncovered by Reuters” was true. The new Reuters claim also disavows the charge that Rosneft was acting illegally with Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) to bust US sanctions imposed on the Venezuelan company  in January;  and on Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a state bank, sanctioned on March 11. 

Now, Reuters says, “experts see no violation of sanctions.”  The “scheme uncovered by Reuters” reported on April 18 has been reprinted this week as a “new approach described to Reuters.”

The unprecedented retreat by Reuters followed a Rosneft press statement issued  on April 19. The company called the Reuters report an “outright lie…purposeful misinformation, legalization of rumours…invent[ed] information fabricated for the purpose of causing damage to the Russian economy, Russian companies, and the Russian state.” Welcoming the correction in MoscowRosneft calls it “an unprecedented admission that we were right in our evaluation of Reuters’ article.”  

International journalist sources express concern that the reputation and ability of Reuters to report internationally has been damaged by what they call the “Americanization” of the news agency. This is a reference to the editor in chief of Reuters, Stephen Adler, who is based in New York.

Reuters’ spokesmen in New York and in London have yet to clarify the sources of the now repudiated allegation. So far, they also refuse to correct an earlier Reuters “exclusive” with allegations against PDVSA and Rosneft, whose sources were also from Washington, and whose veracity was challenged at the time as propaganda for the US sanctions war against Venezuela and Russia. (more…)

CANADIANS LOSE UKRAINE ELECTION — CHRYSTIA FREELAND FOR PRESIDENT OF GALICIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Chrystia Freeland (lead picture, centre), the Ukrainian-Canadian who is Foreign Minister of Canada, was at a loss for words at the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election on Sunday. Instead, she re-tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement

 “Canada and Ukraine are united by a strong relationship, rooted in close people-to-people ties,” Trudeau declared, referring to the mostly western Ukrainians – now numbering three million, ten percent of Canada’s population. They had sided with Adolph Hitler and the German Army in World War II; after their defeat they were accepted by Canada as refugees.  Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak from a village near Lviv, had served in the German Army as a spy and as press editor and propagandist for the administration of Galicia, which then included both Ukrainian and Polish territory, headed by Governor-General Hans Frank (lead image, left).

“We are unwavering in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and our enduring commitment to the rules-based international order,” Trudeau announced, and Freeland re-tweeted  in a formula broad enough to accept terms with Russia to end the five-year war in the east of Ukraine.  “I look forward to working with President-elect Zelenskiy to deepen our relationship and build a more secure, more prosperous future for people in both our countries.”

The only region of Ukraine in which the majority did not vote for Vladimir Zelensky was Lviv region and adjoining areas of old Galicia. There, if Freeland, who has tried but failed to challenge Trudeau for the Canadian prime ministry, were to run for election, she would be the favourite to be President of Galicia. (more…)

VIRTUE-SIGNALLING WON’T SAVE JULIAN ASSANGE – BRITISH LAW MIGHT

By John Helmer, Moscow

US prosecutors pursuing Julian Assange continue to add evidence for the British courts that they are concealing charges in a dummy indictment they intend to change as soon as Assange is extradited. This means the Americans are turning the Assange case for freedom of the press into a cause for British freedom from American domination.   

Read the legal issues at stake in this report.  Listen to today’s Gorilla Radio interview. (more…)

CIA DEPUTY DIRECTOR LIES TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, SHOWING HIM FAKE PHOTOGRAPHS ALLEGED TO BE FROM THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT OF DUCKS AND CHILDREN POISONED BY A RUSSIAN SPY OPERATION IN SALISBURY ON MARCH 4, 2018 – AND THE NEW YORK TIMES REFUSES TO CORRECT ITS RECORD

By John Helmer, Moscow

On April 16, 2019, the New York Times made a mistake. The newspaper acknowledged it swiftly, publishing a three-line correction. “Correction: April 16, 2019 – An earlier version of this article misstated the C.I.A. tenure of Nicholas Dujmovic. He served as an intelligence officer for 26 years, not 23.”

The mistake was in an unusually lengthy profile of the CIA Director Gina Haspel, written by an unusually large group of five journalists based on sources they claim to have been “more than a dozen current and former intelligence officials”.  The problem they identified in the relationship between President Donald Trump and Director Haspel (she was Deputy CIA Director, February 2, 2017 – May 21, 2018)  is that he doesn’t always believe what he’s been told. “Her voice,” the newspaper sums up, “is not always heeded. For all of Ms. Haspel’s ability to stay in Mr. Trump’s good graces, there is little evidence she has changed his mind on major issues…Unusually for a president, Mr. Trump has publicly rejected not only intelligence agencies’ analysis, but also the facts they have gathered. And that has created a perilous situation for the C.I.A.”

Miscounting an ex-agent’s career by three years is the only mistake the journalists and the newspaper’s management admit to making in their analysis of the facts Haspel presented to Trump, and of  the “perilous situation for the CIA” resulting from the president’s disbelief.

The newspaper editorializes through an ex-CIA analyst source in the final paragraph of the publication: “as [Haspel]  continues to present facts and analysis that differ from what the president wants to hear, especially on high-profile issues like Russia and North Korea, her influence will wane.”

The newspaper claims that in one case, in March of 2018, Haspel overcame Trump’s scepticism by presenting evidence that in the Skripal case, “Ms. Haspel also tried to show him that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were not the only victims of Russia’s attack. Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives…Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong [sanctions] option.”

“The outcome was an example, officials said, of how Ms. Haspel is one of the few people who can get Mr. Trump to shift position based on new information.”

The problem is obvious. The “new information” – dead ducks, sickened young children in hospital, British Government photographs – was false and the photographs faked.  Haspel knew before she presented to Trump. She then lied to Trump.

The five reporters – Julian Barnes, Adam Goldman, Eric Schmitt, Michael Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg – did not check the details. Questioned since their publication, they will not clarify what they reported as true. The newspaper management refuses to publish a correction. (more…)

THE NOTRE-DAME CATASTROPHE — THE CONSTITUTIONAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT OF FRANCE AND PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Emmanuel Macron does not recognize that he has been elected to be the president of a secular state.

France, according to Article One of the French Constitution,  is “ a Republic indivisible, secular (laïque),  democratic and social.”

Though he often mistakes the same constitutional point, Vladimir Putin made no mistake when he sent his message of condolence to Macron on the catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral this week. (more…)

PRESIDENT PUTIN APPOINTS INDIAN PRIME MINISTER MODI TO THE ORDER OF ST. ANDREW THE APOSTLE THE FIRST-CALLED

By John Helmer, Moscow

For the second time in as many months President Vladimir Putin has publicly endorsed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to win the Indian national election now under way.

On April 12, in a four-and-a-half-line posting,  the Kremlin announced that Modi had been awarded the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called “for outstanding achievements in the development of a particularly privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India and friendly relations between the Russian and Indian peoples.”  That day the President also met with the chief executive of Volkswagen, Herbert Diess, which was reported in English. The  Kremlin communiqué of the Modi award has not been translated into English.

The announcement went almost unremarked in the Russian press except for Vzglyad, the only independent publication on Russian strategy and security.  A report by regular analyst Pyotr Akopov acknowledged “this is the first time that the head of the Indian government was awarded our highest award – none of the Nehru dynasty was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.” The significance of the award to Modi, he added, is not the timing of the Indian elections. “Forecasts mostly agree that Modi will hold power… It is clear that in the choice of 600 million Indian voters, the Russian award for Modi will have almost no impact.”

The Russian significance is personal and strategic. It is recognition by Putin that Modi has stood up to the US threat to sanction India for buying the S-400 missile system. “Despite the fact that Washington continues actively courting Delhi, Narendra Modi is not going to exchange Russia for the United States. Yes, the number of India’s military contracts with the US has increased over the past decade – but Russian-Indian military ties are not disappearing and are becoming more diverse (for example, India bought the S-400).” (more…)

THE JULIAN ASSANGE CASE NOW PUTS THE US ON TRIAL IN A BRITISH COURT – IS THERE A GET-OUT-OF-JAIL CARD FOR ASSANGE?

By John Helmer, Moscow

The case for and against Julian Assange (lead image, 3rd from left) will keep him in the UK for at least eighteen months, probably two years, possibly three, according to leading London lawyers.  The UK will have a new government by then; the US too.

In the interval, Assange’s lawyers are preparing to prove the US indictment for conspiracy to commit computer hacking will be superseded by espionage charges. That, they will argue, requires the Westminster Magistrates’ Court to throw the US extradition application out. In addition, their  evidence for American  political motivation in the prosecution of Assange, and of US violations of the UK and European standards for a fair trial in an independent and impartial court, will be presented. The Chief Magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot, is likely to preside. The hearing is unlikely to start before December of this year.

The more UK and US Government officials take sides in public against Assange and support the allegations in the indictment, the stronger his case will be in court. The announcement by public letter  to the Home Secretary last week that seventy-one members of the British parliament oppose Assange’s extradition to the US cuts even more of the ground from under UK prosecutors and the lawyers who will appear in court for the US. 

Reversing their campaign to block the Swedish extradition warrant between 2010 and 2012, Assange’s lawyers are also mobilizing to have the Swedish prosecutors return to London with a new warrant, so that this can stretch out the legal wrangling in London for long enough to reach a new British election. If won by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party forms a new government, Assange may benefit from a decision to move Assange’s prosecution to the UK courts, and then to release him.

“The anger for and against this man is extraordinary”, explains a leading London lawyer on extradition cases. “You need very technical lawyering now, and Assange will have to pay for it.  But in parallel there will be the PR campaign amplifying the political issue, principally for the Labour Party. The Assange case will stand for every British voter’s idea of what [President Donald] Trump and the Americans are doing to the world.  [Chief Magistrate Emma] Arbuthnot is not afraid to make decisions that would be unpopular. But as independent as she is, the pressure on her will be huge not to rule against the US.”

“And so it is for the British court system. Either the courts are bending to the US or to the anti-American movement. It’s going to take a bloody long time and a bloody waste of public money” (more…)

DUTCH TREAT – DERK SAUER MAKES A MOSCOW COMEBACK FOR THE SAME OLD GANG

By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia has grown up; Derk Sauer (lead image), boy scout for American, Dutch and NATO plots for Kremlin regime change since Boris Yeltsin left office, can’t.

Under cover of Russian frontmen, he has bought back the Moscow Times, and put his son Pyotr in charge of opinion. The opinion is the same as it was when Sauer started in Moscow in 1992. Mark Ames, the scourge of Moscow Times duplicity then, says now: “They’re trying to make the MT even more boring than it ever was, with just a hint of standard Moscow liberal politics. Right now Derk seems like a garden gnome I dreamed about long ago.” (more…)

IF EVERYTHING JOHN LE CARRÉ WROTE SINCE 1961 ON BRITISH SPYING AGAINST MOSCOW WAS TRUE – IT WAS — WHY READ THE NEW LE CARRÉ BOOK NOW?

By John Helmer, Moscow

“Always George’s problem,” John le Carré (lead image, left) has written in his latest resurrection of his best-known MI6 officer, George Smiley (right), “seeing both sides of everything. Wore him out.”

“Breathtaking”, claimed an Irish novelist with no government experience, in a London newspaper review. “Gripping”, chimed a BBC journalist whose only official secret was an affair with another journalist he tried to stop other journalists reporting. “An unexpected treat”, blurbed one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper employees. “A nostalgic comparison between espionage then and now”, blurbed another. The Los Angeles Times was religious about le Carré’s theme —  “the toll exacted on the individual’s [spy] soul  by serving institutions that fail to live up to their professed values  will resonate as [readers] consider past and present  covert actions of British and US governments.”  This is a bite-back for the virulent hatred for the US and its intelligence services le Carré has written into his story, including disclosure of the MI6 document handling code, GUARD, which is so secret the British Government doesn’t mention it in its classification guidelines.   It means keep secret from Americans.

David Ignatius, a career-long mouthpiece for the US services at the Washington Post, warns his readers.  Le Carré “is at his worst describing characters he doesn’t like (in his recent books, many of the heavy-handed, unconvincing figures are American intelligence officers).”

Since the majority of le Carré’s readers are Americans,  le Carré is asking them to pay money and wear themselves out seeing both sides of everything. Only le Carré’s intelligence officers never see the Russian side of anything. What they do see – le Carré makes the point repeatedly in A Legacy of Spies, now in its fifth printing   – is the pointlessness of the intelligence they target, and the worthlessness of their methods for going about it. (more…)

FANATICAL HISTORY OF RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS FROM PRINCETON

By John Helmer, Moscow

Jonathan Haslam, an Englishman employed by Anglo-American universities to report Soviet and Russian political, military and espionage history for the past century until now, suffers from a tic.  That’s tic as in fanatic, the adjective Haslam applies to everyone who is a target of his history. But look again: Haslam’s tic turns out to be a symptom of the one-eyed man who believes he’s king (professor) in the kingdom (university) of the blind.   (more…)

CRIMEAN GRAPES WEREN’T THE SOUR ONES ON VLADIMIR NABOKOV’S TONGUE

By John Helmer, Moscow

This week, desperate for attention in New York’s overstocked literary market, a biographer of Vladimir Nabokov’s wife and of the witches of Salem, has reported the one-hundred year anniversary of the departure of the Nabokov family from Crimea in April 1919. “Amid frantic, last-minute negotiations, under a spray of machine-gun fire, Vladimir Nabokov fled Russia 100 years ago this week,” reported Stacy Schiff for the New York Times.   “His family had sought refuge from the Bolsheviks in the Crimean peninsula; those forces now made a vicious descent from the north.”

Schiff and her newspaper make a foot fault on that line. “At the time of the evacuation he [Vladimir] had spent 16 quiet months in the Crimea, the last speck of Russia in White hands. Already the Bolsheviks had murdered any number of harmless people.”

If Crimea was Russia then, if only a “speck” and no matter how “vicious” the Bolsheviks from the “north” turned out to be, how on earth could Crimea be otherwise now? (more…)

THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG – PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS LOST CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow

The indictment of ex-minister Mikhail Abyzov is a clear signal; the arrest of former Khabarovsk Governor and ex-presidential representative Victor Ishayev is another

The system of high-level administrative protection, on which these two notoriously corrupt figures have relied for the past twenty years, has ceased protecting them. There is a legion to follow them; they no longer have the telephone number to call for early warning to quash investigations before they close in, or if they do, to escape in time to the US or London.  

When Abyzov recognizes he is doomed, he will start to testify against Anatoly Chubais and others.  When Alexei Kudrin, chairman of the Accounting Chamber, realizes his game is up, he will start sounding more like the accountant he was in St. Petersburg than the candidate for selection to the highest national office he has aspired to be.  Whether Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will be replaced before the next State Duma election falls due in September 2021, or before the election campaign commences, he is going; none of his men will be left in power.   

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman announced after Abyzov’s arrest: “The President received the report [on the Abyzov case] in advance [of his arrest].” That is precisely what happened, not because Putin gave the order to commence the prosecution of Abyzov, but because Putin wants no one to realize he didn’t. Putin has lost the initiative; he cannot protect those who have counted on his protection for two decades.

(more…)

GLEB FRANK HAS A BAD CASE OF THE CRABS – FATHER SERGEI FRANK, FATHER-IN-LAW GENNADY TIMCHENKO TOO

By John Helmer, Moscow

In crowded city life, crabs – plural – meant an invasion of lice into warm body parts covered by hair. For readers who are virgins or who have had Brazilian waxing and can’t imagine running into the crabs, the illustration shows the little fellows in the hair of the head. In fact, a case of the crabs usually meant the pubic hair. Rubbing intimately was the way you got the crabs.

Gleb Frank (lead image, left), owner of the Russian Fishery Company, his father Sergei Frank (centre), chief executive of the state shipping company Sovcomflot, and Gennady Timchenko (right), Gleb’s father-in-law, financier of his businesses, and candidate to take over Sovcomflot when it’s privatized, have been rubbing each other intimately. They know where the crabs are and how to catch them.  That’s because they are planning to create an oligopoly of the Russian crab industry, and dominate the Russian crab trade with the United States. That is, if the US Government, in defence of its crab fishermen, doesn’t  hit the two Franks with the same sanctions as have already been imposed on Timchenko because of Timchenko’s other association; that’s with President Vladimir Putin. He discussed the Frank crab-catching plan in a Kremlin meeting on December 14 last year.   

In the newest version of the US sanctions law against Russia, introduced in the US Senate on February 13,  Gleb Frank, Sergei Frank and Sovcomflot are potential targets, not only because they are “family members of persons [“political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin”] that derive significant benefits from such illicit and corrupt activities”;  but also because they are “entities operating in the shipbuilding sector of the Russian Federation.” (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.  

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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.  

(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.

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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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