MIGHT MAKES RIGHT — THE CASE OF VICTOR VEKSELBERG VERSUS CYNERGY BANK

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In the cartoon,  Mighty Mouse was always on the defensive, repelling attacks from wicked aggressors, cats, for example, or dogs.   When the cartoon first began in 1942, the words of the theme song were also defensive:  “Mr. Trouble never hangs around, When he hears this mighty sound: ‘Here I come to save the day!’ That means that Mighty Mouse Is on the way!” After the defeat of Germany, Mighty Mouse changed his tune: he moved on to the offensive: “Here he comes, that Mighty Mouse, Coming to vanquish the foe With a mighty blow! Don’t be afraid any more ‘Cause thing won’t be like they’ve been before!” The mouse now decides who the enemy is.

In real life, in the sanctions war against Russia, the US Government has decided through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which Russians to attack, In the process, though unreported,  the sanctions give millions of dollars’ worth of benefits to the business rivals and competitors of OFAC’s targets. The European Union, and its member governments, claim they will protect their companies from this US Government-backed asset raiding; in practice they don’t.

A new London High Court case reveals how OFAC helped an Anglo-Indian businessman named Pradip Dhamecha default on a two-year old loan and keep more than £34 million of Victor Vekselberg’s money because Vekselberg had been sanctioned by OFAC four months after the loan was signed and Dhamecha’s bank pocketed his cash. The court ruling, issued on September 12, also declares that the British Government’s policy to stop the extra-territorial reach of the US sanctions to British law and jurisdiction is worthless. “I do not consider the alleged policy is material”, declared Mark Pelling, a practicing Queen’s Counsel serving as a High Court judge.

The outcome of the case, Pelling decided, turns on the right of might; that is, Dhamecha’s right not to pay Vekselberg what he owes because the American Government might sanction Dhamecha for doing so. “Payment,” claimed the judge, heaping conditionals and subjunctives upon each other, “has been impliedly [sic] prohibited because of the probability [sic] that the relevant sanction will be imposed if [sic] it pays [Vekselberg company] the sums it  is entitled to under the contract.” (more…)

NODDY DOES IT AGAIN — ALEXEI MORDASHOV ASKS THE PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA, ALSO THE PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS, TO BELIEVE WHAT A GOOD BOY HE IS

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Among Russian oligarchs, Alexei Mordashov (lead image, centre) holds two records. One is for empty promises: he has never told the whole truth in public or when he has visited President Vladimir Putin (right) for private conversations about his business plans and the Russian state interest. Mordashov’s other record is for losing more money invested in the US than any other Russian; that was at least $3 billion in steelmills which Mordashov bought to turn himself into a global steelmaker in case his Severstal steel group was taken over at home. 

It is therefore almost certain that when Mordashov flew to Cyprus last week to tell the Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades (lead image, left) he intends to double the number of Russian tourists to Cyprus, it’s another empty promise. This is also the assessment of Russian and Cypriot tourism analysts.

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TO SEE MOSCOW FROM HARVARD AND DIE – ANOTHER AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALIST HISTORY OF RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Whoaaa Neddy! Another hack has gotten out of the stable of American exceptionalist historians of Russia.

Actually, this one, Eleonory Gilburd, is a Russian-born, US educated and employed hack of the Soviet Jewish emigration like Keith Gessen, Masha Gessen  and Yury Slezkine. Russian exiles with axes to grind.   

They have plenty to grind on – the Romanov tsars, the Orthodox Church, Bolsheviks, Communism, Soviet bureaucracy, Stalin’s Terror, the KGB, and the Russian intelligentsia – with the exception of themselves. There being almost no one in Russia for them to dare to sharpen an axe on when that would have been principled and brave, emigration to the US was the option. Gilburd’s book is a documentary, not so much of the Russia left behind, as of the generation created in the US by the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment’s exchange of Soviet trade benefits for Jewish exit permits. They are the generation who want to return to a Russia, regime-changed and shaped in their image, and not to remain forever excluded, powerless, ignored as they are as Americans. (more…)

SERGEI FRANK LOSES HIS FOOTING AT STATE TANKER COMPANY SOVCOMFLOT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Sergei Frank (lead image, right) is being removed from control of Sovcomflot, the Russian state tanker company and one of the largest oil and gas transporters in the world.  Frank is the only senior Russian state official to have been judged by the British courts to be dishonest and vindictive in litigation; to have perjured himself in courtroom testimony; and to have obstructed justice by a scheme of evidence fabrication against former Sovcomflot executives and partners.

Frank’s removal has yet to be confirmed officially; Sovcomflot is making no comments. The chief executive who has dominated the company for almost fifteen years appeared to be fully in charge at the July 24 board meeting. (more…)

GENNADY TIMCHENKO’S CRABS HAVE VLADIMIR PUTIN’S PERMISSION NOT TO WALK STRAIGHT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was Aristophanes who said you can’t teach a crab to walk straight. Lenin wasn’t talking about crabs when he recommended taking one step forward, two steps back.

This summer, when President Vladimir Putin last talked to Gennady Timchenko about his family’s crab business, he said he was revising the old Lenin tract. Two steps sideways, and one step forward, Putin advised.  By sideways he meant that investigations under way in April by the General Prosecutor’s office, the Kremlin Control Directorate, and the Accounting Chamber of the Russian Fishing Company, controlled by Timchenko’s son-in-law Gleb Frank, have been called off. The federal minister in charge, Yury Trutnev, has also been advised to move sideways until after the first government auction of crab quotas start on October 7.

On that day, Rosrybolovtsvo (Rosryb), the federal Russian Fishery Agency, which is a branch of the Ministry of Agriculture. will start auctioning catch quotas for 15-year terms in 41 lots of 1,000 tonnes each; the estimated state price will be about Rb125 billion ($1.9 billion). Bidding for the fareast crab quotas will run from October 7 to 11; the northern Barents Sea crab auction will take place on October 14-15; the official results will then be issued by Rosryb and contracts with the winning companies should be signed on October 28.

The Russian Fishing Company (RRPC) is expected to take at least a third of the offer, probably more since lack of cash and state bank financing to meet Rosryb’s terms prevent industry rivals from bidding. An additional cost requirement for the winning bidders is that they must commit to building new crabbing vessels at local shipyards. In support of its quota bid, RRPC is reported to have committed to paying $500 million for 22 vessels.

“All attempts at investigating or allowing competition in the crab business are now dead,” an industry source said last week. “This is now the fashion. Timchenko got the blessing from Putin.” (more…)

PUTIN ENDORSES NETANYAHU FOR RE-ELECTION – SHOIGU AND LAVROV REACT

 

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On Friday afternoon in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin kept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting for three hours, and then publicly endorsed him for re-election. Putin’s endorsement was unconditional: he could have warned against Netanyahu’s election pledge, revealed last week, to annex the West Bank of Palestine, but he didn’t. Putin could have warned against Israeli air force and missile strikes on targets in Syria, but he didn’t. “We have absolutely identical positions,” Putin declared, according to the official Kremlin record. Putin was speaking only for himself.    

That was made plain to Netanyahu during the Sochi session by the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Kremlin publication,   however, cut them out of the photographic record and official communiqué, as if they weren’t there at all. (more…)

PUTIN, TRUMP, JOHNSON, MACRON, MERKEL, TRUDEAU – GORILLA RADIO ASKS WHOSE ROCK OF STABILITY IS ROCKIER

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In high state politics there’s a difference between the morons and the psychopaths – between Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau on the one hand, John Bolton and Chrystia Freeland on the other. The  difference is in the ability to count the fingers on one hand. 

Bolton has been removed because, notwithstanding Trump’s mental disabilities and small hands, the President can still do arithmetic. The current US voter polls show he is running a negative approval rating of 10 points, 54% to 44%; there has been a significant decline since July.    Trump’s  domestic policy approval is positive, however. He is being pulled down by disapproval of his foreign policy, and by American voters’ fear that the future will be worse.   Bolton is the finger on Trump’s hand which must be removed for the president to count on re-election.

Compared to Trump, Trudeau, Boris Johnson in the UK, Emmanuel Macron in France, or Angela Merkel in Germany, Vladimir Putin is a rock of stability, neurologically and arithmetically speaking,  too. His approval rating, last measured by the Levada Centre in August, was trending downwards, but still a positive 36 points, 67% to 31%.  The Moscow city duma and regional gubernatorial elections of last Sunday confirm what midterm and local elections usually show everywhere – voter discontent and the readiness to signal it as loudly as possible. In my Moscow district, for example, a middle-class one, voter turnout was double the citywide average, 44% to 22%; the winning candidate was from the Communist Party. This is not the regime-change threat reported in the Anglo-American media.

In the campaign for next month’s Canadian election, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is as much of a liability, and for the same reason, as Bolton was for Trump. For Trudeau to survive in power, it is the French voters of Quebec backing him, not the Ukrainian voters who support Freeland,  who will be decisive. Freeland’s last desperate measure, to encourage the Canadian press to report the threat of Russian interference in the Canadian election, is going to fail, not because it’s false, but because Canadian voters, starting in her home province of Ontario, regard her as a threat to their future. (more…)

SERVILITY OR SELF-DEFENCE: CYPRUS CAN DEFEND AGAINST THE TURKS WITHOUT AMERICAN PROTECTORATE OR RUSSIAN ADVICE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Russia has been warning Cyprus (lead image, left) for months to beware the risks and consequences of offering its offshore oil and gas to US companies in exchange for promises of a US military protectorate against Turkish invasion. So far the American response (lead image, centre – Secretary of State Michael Pompeo) has been to require Cyprus to block Russian Navy access to its ports; expel Russian capital from its banks; and put a stop to what Washington calls pro-Russian journalism in the Greek-language press. For details of this scheme, read this

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced the Washington plan as an “artificial choice” and also a “gross violation” of Cyprus’s internal affairs. But so far the Russians have joined the Americans in accepting that what the Turks believe to be theirs is theirs, and that what the Cypriots (and Greeks) regard as theirs is negotiable.

For the first time, however, Cypriot and Greek military officers and experts have joined to plan  Cypriot military tactics against Turkey’s attempt at taking over the Cyprus offshore seabed and at fresh Turkish troop landings on the island. Not since the Cypriots fought a successful guerrilla war against the British for independence in the 1950s, and then in 1974 fought the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the island has a Cypriot military approach appeared.  Self-defence by the Cypriots – without alignment with Americans or Russians, and without backing from Athens — is unprecedented. (more…)

WHAT’S THE US UMBRELLA FOR? GORILLA RADIO INTERVIEW ON TURKISH THREATS TO CYPRUS, GREECE AND THE REST OF EUROPE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Cover yourself. When it’s raining, you can’t borrow somebody else’s umbrella for shelter.

In September 1938, the umbrella of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain became the symbol of his foolishness in accepting Adolph Hitler’s terms for the takeover of the Sudetenland, then Czechoslovakia,  as “peace for our time” (lead image, left), then telling the British to “go home and get a nice quiet sleep”.  

The US umbrella which Nikos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, and Kyriacos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, have applied to borrow, to protect themselves from the terms dictated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan(lead image, right)  isn’t yet as infamous. It’s already just as futile.  For Cypriot and Greek officials to pretend to such folly is a treason before their own people.    (more…)

MARK GALEOTTI IS A FACT FAKER – HIS BOOK ON RUSSIAN CRIME IS A HATE CRIME, A WAR CRIME

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Repeating lies over and over makes old-fashioned Joseph Goebbels-type propaganda. Repeating lies, then contradicting them; moving them from one government-paid think-tank to another; footnoting a new lie to an older version; quoting policemen and gangsters saying fatuities; adding slang and the words of pop songs—this is still Goebbels-type but  stretched out and product-diversified  to make its author more money. This is Mark Galeotti’s method.

His new book on the business of Russian crime isn’t about business at all. There’s not a single item from a balance-sheet, cashflow analysis, asset trace, or financial indictment in Galeotti’s effort to exaggerate  Russian criminals to mean Russian people, all of them. 

The Russians are also the unique criminals of our world, he thinks  – no other nation on earth matches them for their criminality. So for the protection of the rest of the innocent world, and to protect the uncriminalized from being Russianized, the Russian state, that’s the “super-mafia” of Galeotti’s targeting, should be destroyed by warfare. And since Galeotti repeats the slang of the Russian streets himself to rub in his conclusion that “mainstream society” – that’s everybody –“ reflect[s] a fundamental process of criminalisation of politics and daily life”, he means that Russians deserve  more than their mouths washed out.  Galeotti is a mercenary; his book a weapon — a stun-gun for the naive,   an improvised explosive device for the unguarded, a neutron bomb for the sceptical.   Means, motive, opportunity for a hate crime in the service of a war crime. (more…)

RETURN TO THE CECOTROPICS — SEPTEMBER IS WHEN RABBITS EAT THEIR CECOTROPES ; REPORTERS EAT THEIR TWEETS; THE BEAR DOES WHAT HE CAN TO ELUCIDATE THE DIFFERENCE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Mother Nature has arranged short life spans for rabbits, like journalists.

Rabbits have the advantage — an extra digestive cycle for foodstuffs which don’t properly give up their nutrients on the first pass-through. In the autumn, when grass and other tender plant stems give way to dry straw and bark, this comes in handy, rabbit-wise.  They cycle the stuff through their cecum – a pouch between their intestines — excrete it in lumps, and eat it for re-digestion.  The lumps are called cecotropes. You don’t need to be a veterinarian or aborigine to tell the difference between cecotropes and shit. You can tell by looking at them. Cecotropes are soft and lumpy; shit is hard and pellet-sized.

In the internet media, cecotropes are called tweets. Retweeting is the human equivalent of eating shit. But in the human anatomy, there’s no cecum, just an appendix which is quite useless unless it gets inflamed. If you lack a cecum, eating shit can cause appendicitis,  and that can lead to brain death. Most journalists eat shit without realizing the terminal damage they’ve done; being dead,  their brains are as useless as their appendixes. Readers of brain-dead journalism can tell by looking at it – is it soft and lumpy, or hard and pellet-sized?

Regular exercises are required for telling the difference between the two. Welcome back.

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

How little the Germans have changed.

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



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

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

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

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

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

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

(more…)
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