For the first time since the execution of Richard Sorge in Sugamo prison, Tokyo, on November 7, 1944, the highest representative of the Red Army and of the Russian Defence Ministry has made an official visit of tribute at his grave.
Sergei Shoigu (lead picture, right), General of the Army and Minister of Defence, visited Sorge’s grave (left) on Wednesday, May 29. Also taking the salute were senior Russian military officers and Russia’s Ambassador to Japan, Mikhail Galuzin. Shoigu was on an official visit to Tokyo this week for meetings with the Japanese Defence Minister, Takeshi Iwaya, and for a session with the foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Taro Kono.
Not before in Japan has Sorge, one of the greatest agents of the Soviet military intelligence services, been honoured in this fashion by his country. (more…)
The US Army’s general staff has paid the RAND think-tank in California to devise a brand new plan of attack against Russia. The plan was released a month ago, on April 24. The new idea is Operation SWARM – that means throwing everything the US can think of at Russia.
SWARM (lead image) isn’t exactly new. He started in 1977 when Spider-Man discovered SWARM was a German scientist who had survived Hitler’s defeat and escaped to South America. He wasn’t doing too well until he was irradiated by a super-collider at RAND. SWARM moved to the East Coast of the US, and then to Syria. He hasn’t been doing too well against Spider-Man anyplace.
One of the reasons for the new plan is that the Pentagon generals don’t take seriously RAND’s public declaration that it’s “a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.” The US Army, like RAND, has a narrower view of whose prosperity they aim to help, starting with themselves.
Another of the reasons is that retired State Department official James Dobbins, the lead author of the new attack-Russia plan, needs money to replace his past employment at the State Department and White House where he worked on US wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Afghanistan. Equally in need of cash are his co-authors, several of whom are retirees from the intelligence and armed services.
And finally the third reason, as RAND concedes in several charts, is that none of the things the US Government has been throwing at Russia for the past five years has been working as intended, while the risks of BBB have been growing; that’s backfires, boomerangs and bloodshed. (more…)
Journalism is war by other means. If you don’t understand this you are either an enlisted soldier or a casualty with a serious head-wound. On the ground covered by journalism it’s impossible to hide; innocent civilians are inevitably caught in the cross-fire.
Most Russians have known this since the start of the nineteenth century.
After Anton Chekhov’s reports from Sakhalin were published between 1891 and 1893, Russian journalism didn’t recover to his standard for fifty years. It began again at the German invasion on June 22, 1941. But it lasted for just four years – until the Red Army victory in Berlin and the capitulation of the Germans in May 1945.
Vasily Grossman (lead image) was one of the very best of the Russian reporters on the front in that brief period. He far excelled his English-writing peers on other fronts, particularly American fakers like Ernest Hemingway.
A new biography of Grossman, published in the US, reveals in Grossman’s own words why he is still a model of the genre in Russian. It also explains how and why he was silenced on orders of Josef Stalin, and his major book, combining his battlefield notes and interviews, banned from 1961 until 1988.
“Evil is overthrown”, Grossman reportedly said to another Russian correspondent on the roof of the Reichstag on May 2, 1945. Just for the time being, he acknowledged later on.
There can be no irony, just dismay that Grossman’s biography demonstrates that the biographer, Alexandra Popoff, a Russian turned Canadian, and her publisher, the Yale University Press, have no comprehension of what Grossman meant, nor of his lesson for journalism the world over – that evil isn’t overthrown. That today, as you read this, it’s alive and well in Canada and at Yale University, not to mention Berlin (again), Paris, London, Washington, and not to forget, Moscow (again). Grossman the Russian soldier is on the opposite side from Popoff the American soldier. (more…)
The oil company of the ex-owner of Yugra Bank, now under arrest, managed to embezzle not less than 20 billion rubles from the state budget.
Gasoline prices in Russia have become the subject of almost daily meetings of the government, as well as jokes and internet memes. Social networks are full of impressive price comparison charts: for example, in 2008, when oil cost $130 per barrel, drivers at petrol stations paid 23.5 rubles for a litre of 95-octane, and in 2018, with an average oil price of $70, they paid almost 45 rubles. The state puts the blame for these rising prices on the oilmen, who strive to sell most of their raw materials abroad. They, in turn, don’t get tired of reminding everyone how much of a share in the rising price is taken by taxes and excise duties. Beyond this endless discussion (at least in the public part of it) there is only corruption and theft to explain the price. These two factors, meanwhile, play a significant role in the price of the final product and in the amount of taxes collected, as the example of the oil company Dulisma shows.
Joint Stock Company Dulisma has become one of the frequently identified enterprises in the background of media coverage of the arrest of Alexei Khotin (lead image, right), the former owner of Yugra Bank, which was stripped of its license by the Central Bank in July 2017. (more…)
Helmer is an equal opportunity critic. And in the current political climate that is unacceptable. One is either with us or against us. Any signs of whataboutism, or any criticisms of the prevailing Western narrative which indicate that you’re not 100% on our side, are proof positive that is that you must be a fully paid up Kremlin agent. It is, of course, absurd, but alas it seems that that’s the way it is. (more…)
By the European standard of destructiveness in war — civil war and invasion — only one country exceeds Russia in the frequency of violence over the past two centuries and in casualties per head of population: this is Greece. In Europe of today, no country has been as damaged by the serial attacks of the Turks, Germans, British, Americans, and also by the Greeks themselves, as Greece. No European suffers today from more impoverished future prospects than the Greek.
This is the dismal lesson of a new history, just published by a British academic and philhellene, as foreign lovers of Greece have been called since Lord Byron and Victor Hugo. The history is also a valuable record of the dozens of times Greeks appealed for Russian aid, and when Russians, having promised to help, turned out to be double-crossers. Indeed, starting from Catherine II in 1770 until Vladimir Putin today, this mistake Greeks (including Cypriots) and Russians make towards each other has been repeated. Re-reading the history may help stop the vicious cycle. So may the extended range of Russian air and sea missiles. (more…)
Oleg Deripaska (lead image, right), the Russian aluminium oligarch, saw red when Gennady Zyuganov (left), the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), declared in parliament that Deripaska was a swindler.
Deripaska, charged Zyuganov on January 9, had stolen the aluminium plants comprising United Company Rusal from their Russian owners and employees, and is now handing the company over to the US to save his profits from US sanctions. “The ambition of the Russian oligarchs for their profit looks more and more intransigent,” Zyuganov added, making the very first public attack by the Communist Party on the aluminium oligarch in twenty years.
Deripaska sued Zyuganov in a Moscow city court for insulting his reputation and demanded Rb1 million ($15,380) in compensation. The case commenced in Tverskoy district court on January 16, but was adjourned in February when lawyers for both sides asked for more time to prepare for trial in front of Judge Tatyana Melitina. She withdrew from the case in March, and a new judge, Alexei Stekliev, postponed the trial again to give himself more time to read the papers. He had withdrawn from the case this week when Judge Melitina returned.
On Tuesday, Zyuganov’s lawyer, Dmitry Agranovsky, told Melitina that Zyuganov had assured Deripaska there were no personal hard feelings, signing an agreement to settle the case before trial. Deripaska let Zyuganov off having to pay the penalty. (more…)
The Swedish Government’s decision that there is “still probable cause” for Julian Assange to be tried for a sexual offence committed against a sleeping woman nine years ago is a political gift to the British Government. London lawyers specializing in extradition cases say it is now up to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the British justice minister, to decide whether the Swedish charge against Assange is more serious than the US charge of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, filed against Assange in London on April 11. That’s a political decision Prime Minister Theresa May will make, if she remains in power. It’s a move she is believed to have negotiated with the Swedes to avoid a judgement by British judges that American prosecutors are too prejudiced for Assange to get a fair trial in the US.
“When there are competing requests the Secretary of State [Javid] decides which request takes priority,” the source said. “There are various mandatory, though not exhaustive statutory considerations including when requests are received and the gravity of the allegations. Given the respective allegations, the potential time limitation issues in Sweden and the history of the matter I would anticipate that would be a strong factor weighing in favour of the Swedish request.”
Other sources believe extradition to Sweden offers Assange a better than even chance of acquittal on the Swedish charge. The sources also believe that resistance by the Swedish courts to US political pressure for extradition will be greater than Prime Minister May or the British courts want to show. (more…)
This is how the oil, real estate and banking empire of Yury Khotin (lead image, left) and his son Alexei Khotin (right) has ended. One of the two men — dubbed in 2015 the Тайнолигархи, the secret oligarchs because they kept their photographs out of public circulation and refused to answer press questions — is now under house arrest in Moscow; their Yugra Bank is closed with capital deficiencies and liabilities of up to $4 billion; their principal oil company, Exillon Energy, has been suspended by the London Stock Exchange since May 1.
A veteran state banker sees in this end for the Khotins a signal success of Central Bank regulators at warding off pressure from state officials for whom the Khotins have served as deposit-takers and money launderers. “The business of Yugra Bank was built on the pocket bank model to which the overwhelming majority of Russia’s privately-owned banks have adhered,” the source said. “Whatever resources become available are committed to related-party lending; that’s to say, the financing of the owners’ non-banking ventures in real estate, manufacturing, mining, etc. Nothing new — hundreds of banks have been organized that way.”
“The case of Yugra Bank once again illustrates how the institution of deposit insurance was misused and abused by unscrupulous bankers and depositors, alike. The bankers were attracting household deposits by high interest rates which they could not afford (they knew it), and probably did not intend paying. The depositors were eager to enjoy those unsustainably high interest rates because within the deposit insurance coverage limits (currently Rb 1.4 million [$21,000]) they could confidently expect a bailout by the state. The ability to raise huge amounts of private savings created a kind of ‘too big to fail’ situation. At first the regulator did not want to sort it out simply because it lacked the capability to resolve all similar sized problem banks at once. But I doubt the Khotins, the former owners of Yugra, will be able to get away unscathed. The Deposit Insurance Agency has, over time, learned how to go after the assets of fugitive Russian bank scammers even in the world’s Number-1 Den of Thieves — by which I mean London.” (more…)
The British author of a new biography of Richard Sorge (lead image, left), the Soviet spy hanged by the Japanese on November 7, 1944, disqualifies himself from being believed on the very first page of his book, and on the last.
Sorge, reads the first line, “was a bad man who became a great spy.” On the last page, “Sorge was a flawed individual but an impeccable spy – brave, brilliant, relentless. It was Sorge’s tragedy that his masters were venal cowards who placed their own careers before the vital interests of the country that he laid down his life to serve.”
Owen Matthews (Russian family name Bibikov) reveals that after studying at Oxford University he worked as a journalist for The Moscow Times, the London Times, and The Economist. They are the well-known covers for US and British secret service employment in information warfare, as well as espionage. They aren’t credentials for understanding the history of Soviet intelligence before, during, or after World War II. Still, when a journalist like this one toes his proprietor’s and his secret service’s line, there is much that is revealing — about Matthews’ toes, and the Achilles Heel he and his masters display in this book. (more…)
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.”
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 @bears_with
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.
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.”
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.
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 @bears_with
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.
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.
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 bilificationof society.
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.