THE RUSSIAN MONOPOLY ON ENLIGHTENMENT — ARKADY ROTENBERG, THE PRESIDENT’S FRIEND, HAS BOUGHT MORE THAN 90% OF THE SCHOOLCHILDREN’S TEXTBOOK MARKET

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In our last episode, Denis Diderot, the French philosopher in Paris, had sold his library to the Empress Catherine in St. Petersburg. For his bonus, he had received a ticket to meet and talk to Catherine directly. At their first meeting at a masked ball in the Winter Palace, Diderot was wearing his old black suit and a borrowed wig. “Monsieur Diderot, do you see that door?” the Empress told him.  “It will be open to you every day from three to five.”

President Vladimir Putin (lead image, right) has known Arkady Rotenberg (left) for much longer, and the connecting door between them has been open for much, much longer. Recently, on the account of the esteem in which the former holds the latter, it was arranged that the state monopoly on the enlightenment of Russia’s schoolchildren should be given to Rotenberg. That’s to say, the monopoly concession paid out of the state budget for the publication and distribution of school textbooks produced by a group of companies Rotenberg controls.  

In our first episode, Diderot was shy towards the ruler of Russia. In our second episode, Rotenberg is also shy. He says the Caribbean company which controls the enlightenment concession has nothing to do with him. Read on, as the philosopher turns sophist. (more…)

GORILLA RADIO — THE SYRIAN TUG OF WAR IS STILL WAR AGAINST SYRIA, AND RUSSIANS TRUST THE ARMY MORE THAN PRESIDENT PUTIN TO WAGE IT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It doesn’t suit any of the sides in the US presidential campaign to acknowledge that the terms President Vladimir Putin agreed this week for the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Syria to become permanent are not those which Russia’s Defence Ministry, General Staff, Foreign Ministry and Foreign Intelligence Service proposed instead.

That’s too complex a point in the American political contest between President Donald Trump, his supporters and opponents. So complex, in fact, that Trump is gaining nothing in domestic job approval rating in the polls, as he intended his Syrian “troop withdrawal” and “save the oil” moves to achieve

This is also too fine a point for the alternative media to concede  in their competition for audience (and money) with the mainstream media. Both of them share the idea that Putin is the dominant decision-maker in Moscow. To alt-media writers and publishers, that’s a good thing; to the mainstream media that’s a bad thing, a very bad thing. The truth of the matter – the Russian political fact of the matter – is beside the point to both. American exceptionalists being what they are, rightwing imperialists and leftwing imperialists, Holocaust and climate warming deniers included, there is no room in the present American discourse for the facts on the ground. On the ground in Syria, or on the ground in Moscow.

The big fact on the ground that’s being missed in North America is that Putin has agreed to another Turkish invasion of a neighbouring country. This was not Kremlin policy at the time of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. It wasn’t Kremlin policy last September when Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on terms for the temporary protectorate of Idlib.    In the run-up to the negotiations in Sochi on Tuesday (October 22), this was not the Russian policy consensus toward the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, nor toward the options for driving the Turks back where they belong.

Half-measures are what turned out. In Russian strategy and politics, the outcome could have been worse, so half-measures seem to be better than pushing Erdogan back towards the US and NATO, as Russians believe to be his genuine preference.

In American presidential politics, the outcome in Sochi could hardly, ironically,  have been better. To Trump’s critics and the war party in Washington, Trump has been shown up to be out-smarted and weak in the face of Putin’s initiative. To Trump’s supporters and the anti-war party, Putin and Erdogan have made a better agreement towards ending the war in Syria than the one Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the week before.

This is confusing. It’s also temporary. (more…)

BIBI’S BIRTHDAY – VLADIMIR PUTIN TELEPHONES TO STOP THE CANDLES SNUFFING OUT ON PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU’S CAKE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were both born under the sign of Libra. The zodiac directs them, on the positive side, to be cooperative and diplomatic; on the negative side, to be indecisive and vacillating. For likes, Librans click most on harmony and balance.

October 21 was Netanyahu’s birthday, and for the fourth time in five years Putin (born October 7) telephoned to wish him well. More than that, as Netanyahu was struggling – failing, in fact – to assemble a parliamentary coalition with enough votes to keep him in office, Putin declared: “You are by rights highly respected by your compatriots and by people outside Israel. We in Russia know you as a firm proponent of strengthening friendly ties between our countries and respect you for making a huge personal contribution to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in a variety of fields. I highly value our constructive and business-like relations. I hope to be able to continue our substantive dialogue and fruitful joint efforts in the interests of Russian and Israeli people, as well as regional security and stability.”

This is a very odd choice of exaggerations and misrepresentations for the Russian head of government  to pass to another head of government – especially one who has just lost a national election;   faces  indictment for corruption;  and directs a policy of warmaking against two of Russia’s battlefield allies, Syria and Iran, not to mention allowing his air force to shoot Russian airmen out of the sky to their deaths.   

When Putin told the Arab media last week that his principle is “Russia will never be friends with one country against another”,   he was making an exception for Israel. But why of all the Israelis who celebrate birthdays does Putin pick on Netanyahu? (more…)

THE SULTAN BLINKED, THE TSAR AGREED TO CLOSE HIS EYES – THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE EXPANDS BY 118 KILOMETRES OF SYRIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

After one of the longest, bitterest negotiations ever held between President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov forced the Turks into an agreement for a Turkish military enclave inside Syrian territory between Tal Abiad and Ras Al-Ain (Sari Kani). That is less than one-quarter of the Syrian territory Erdogan was demanding at the start of the Sochi talks. 

The western towns of Manbij and Kobani will remain Syrian, guaranteed by Russian arms and denied to Operation Peace Spring, as the Turks are calling their invasion since October 9.  

The Turkish advance eastwards along the Syrian Highway M4 to the Iraqi border has been stopped. The Syrian Army will reoccupy the eastern zone to the Yarubiya crossing, with Russian military police on the ground; that also means the Russian Air Force in the air.

The practical result is that Russia accepts that the Turkish capture of Tal Abiad and Ras-Al-Ain since October 9 will not be reversed. This territory will thus be added to the Turkish hold on Afrin and Idlib in Syria’s northwest. Shoigu told  reporters there was no discussion of  how long the Turkish forces will occupy these areas. This is a major Russian concession to the Turkish demand for permanent military occupation and partition of Syria.

The Russians believe this concession is worth making to the Turks so long as the Americans are forced out; this is the message Putin has relayed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  

According to a statement by Lavrov, the paper which Erdogan agreed last Thursday (October 17) in Ankara with US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been dismissed. “We do not particularly look at the United States and its stance. That stance is quite variable and contradictory, and of course, the coalition led by the United States is in Syria illegally, this is well known,” Lavrov said after the talks ended in Sochi

Putin hinted at the same point, announcing  during his press conference with Erdogan: “Syria must be liberated from illegal foreign military presence. We believe that the only way to achieve strong and long-lasting stability in Syria is to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. This is our principled position, and we have discussed it with the President of Turkey. It is important that our Turkish partners share this approach. The Turks and the Syrians will have to protect peace on the border together, which would be impossible without mutually respectful cooperation between the two countries. (more…)

OIL AND WATER DON’T MIX – THE SOLUTION TO THE WAR IN SYRIA

By Gary Busch, London*
  @bears_with

The roots of the Syrian Civil War start with conflicts over who controls Syria’s energy supplies. The war continues, especially in the Kurdish areas of the north, in a fight over water which has been growing desperately scarcer for everybody – Syrians, Kurds, Turks, Iraqis.

Achieving a final conclusion to the war will depend on those fighting it to negotiate  arrangements for the distribution of Syrian energy supplies, onshore and offshore, and ensuring adequate supplies of water in a continuously dehydrating climate. Until now, taking oil and water by force has been much the preferred option. (more…)

IN THE WAR FOR SYRIA’S HIGHWAY M4, THE KREMLIN TURKS HAVE BEEN BEATEN TO THE PUNCH BY THE RUSSIAN GENERAL STAFF, FOREIGN MINISTRY — FOR THE MOMENT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is hoping that his meeting with President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for next Tuesday in Sochi, will give him the same battlefield advantages on Syrian territory which Putin conceded in their Idlib Agreement of last September. By fixing the Putin negotiation at the limit of the 5-day agreement Erdogan negotiated yesterday with US officials in Ankara, the Turkish aim is to extend the Turkish military occupation of northeastern Syria from the frontier to Highway M4, and present Putin with a fait accompli – a Turkish invasion of Syria, followed by the surrender of the Kurdish forces and of the Syrian Army, without a serious fight.

To achieve this between now and then, the US and the Turks are hoping for a Russian military retreat from the battlefield, and the abandonment of Russian protection, in the air and on the ground, of the Syrian Army’s advance to recover sovereignty for the government in Damascus. The Turkish invasion, the US has now agreed, is a NATO operation under the treaty’s collective defence Article 5;  this implies the threat of US reprisals if the Turkish advance is fought by Kurdish, Syrian and Russian forces.

“This is an incredible outcome,” President Donald Trump has declared. “We got everything we ever could have dreamed of.” Trump thinks he has Putin’s capitulation.

On paper he has already. On the battlefield he hasn’t, yet. If Putin concedes next Tuesday, then it is clear this is exactly what Putin meant when he told an Arabic-language media interview last  Monday, “we – Turkey, Iran, and Russia – work hard, shoulder to shoulder, to achieve positive results. However, it would have been impossible without support from Saudi Arabia, and we all understand that.” In point of fact, no one in the Arab world, nor in the Russian Foreign Ministry and General Staff, understands that all. (more…)

YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE SIDES – APOLOGY BY JOHN HEATHERSHAW ON BEHALF OF MARK GALEOTTI, OLIVER BULLOUGH, ROBERT SERVICE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union is John Heathershaw’s métier.

Heathershaw is a professor at the University of Exeter where he specializes in studying and teaching “conflict, security and development in authoritarian political environments, especially in post-Soviet Central Asia.”  Recently, he took exception to my critical reviews of books on Russia by fellow British academics – one  by Mark Galeotti, and others by Oliver Bullough, Elisabeth Schimpfossl,  and Robert Service.  He wrote to me to say so, recognizing my “journalistic work” and adding: “I’m not interested in hatchet jobs or conspiracy theories regarding people doing perfectly good research.” This is the record of what happened when the journalist asked the professor for his evidence. (more…)

BORIS DUBROVSKY IS NOW SWISS – THE DIRTY AIR MAN OF CHELYABINSK FINDS A CLEAN PLACE FOR HIS LUNGS AND HIS WALLET

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Boris Dubrovsky (lead images), President Vladimir Putin’s governor of Chelyabinsk between 2014 and March 19, 2019, has long been at risk of lung disease, and he is now reported to be in a Swiss clinic for treatment. His prognosis is uncertain.

More certain it is that Dubrovsky will not be returning to Chelyabinsk. That’s not because the  city air is injurious to his health, as federal regulators and citizens’ groups have measured throughout Dubrovsky’s gubernatorial term;  but rather because Dubrovsky has been charged by the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the criminal scheme of monopolizing road construction contracts in the Chelyabinsk region. The sum of the criminal damage for which Dubrovsky is accused currently stands at Rb20 billion ($308 million). That’s damage to the regional and federal budgets. How much money Dubrovsky has trousered for himself is not charged or reported.  

No Russian prosecution claims have been filed against Dubrovsky to the Swiss authorities. The Swiss press are now investigating the accommodations in local banks and real estate where Dubrovsky’s money may be located under his own or his son’s name. (more…)

IS DOMINIC CUMMINGS A SLEEPER RUSSIAN AGENT? THE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER’S MIND CONTROL EXPERT’S SECRET YEARS IN KGB MOSCOW

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Dominic Cummings, presently a powerful and wealthy 47-year old special advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was hard at work in Moscow and Samara for three years, between 1994 and 1997. He has acknowledged himself that “I worked in Russia 1994-7 on various projects.” This was no news to the Russian authorities then or since; it is also an advertisement to British critics and media investigators in London that however much Cummings’ role in plotting the Brexit referendum and Johnson’s no-deal ultimatums have antagonized many, Cummings once, and still now, enjoys the protection and confidence of the British secret services.

The three Cummings years in Russia were a period of fierce undercover combat between MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, and Russia’s reviving foreign and counter-intelligence services, successors to the Soviet KGB — the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service), led by Yevgeny Primakov,  and the FSB (Federal Security Service)  under Sergei Stepashin and Mikhail Barsukov.

That was also the time a junior MI6 spy named Christopher Steele was running operations in the Volga region south of Moscow, starting in Samara. When his cover was blown in the spring of 1993, Steele was evacuated to home office to train replacements. Just over a year later, after graduating slowly from Oxford, Cummings’ time started in Samara. That too came to an abrupt and unsuccessful end. Cummings himself is behind the hint published in his Wikipedia profile that he “fell foul of the KGB”.   Since then Steele has become more successful at running operations and agents in Washington;  Cummings more successful on Downing Street.

But in the mid-1990s what exactly was Cummings doing in Samara and other places in Russia, for whom was he working, what contact did he have with Steele, and why was he ordered out of Russia – these are questions  Cummings was asked to explain on Monday. He refuses to answer. (more…)

SKRIPAL UPDATE – ENGLISH CORONER RUNS OUT OF LEGAL CAMOUFLAGE, AND GENUINE EVIDENCE, FOR POSTPONING INQUEST INTO DAWN STURGESS DEATH; SPOKESMAN ATTEMPTS LYING TO PRESS

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The British Government’s narrative that a Kremlin-ordered assassination plot against a former GRU agent, Sergei Skripal, in March of 2018 also caused the death of a woman, Dawn Sturgess,  three months later,  has collapsed for lack of evidence admissible in court.  

After nineteen months of investigations by hundreds of police, military personnel, forensic scientists, and secret service agents, including Skripal himself and his daughter Yulia, the Metropolitan Police have been unable to present their case for the cause of death of Dawn Sturgess to the Wiltshire and Swindon County senior coroner, David Ridley (lead image). Ridley’s court is located at 26 Endless Street, Salisbury, the town in which Skripal was allegedly attacked on March 4, 2018. Sturgess fell ill on June 30 at her companion’s home in Amesbury, nine miles from Salisbury. She died on July 8.

Because Ridley cannot rule on the cause of death according to the requirements of British law, the Government has decided to prevent an inquest from being held. Although Ridley has ordered postponements of the inquest every six months since he convened the first pre-inquest review (PIR) on July 19, 2018, he and his superiors in London decided last week that the hearing scheduled for this week should not be held at all, and that the Sturgess inquest should be delayed sine die, without a date being set.

This is tantamount to ending the legal process – without a ruling that Sturgess had been the victim of murder. That in turn casts grave legal doubt on the British police, government and press allegations of what caused Skripal’s collapse, and who was responsible.

On Friday Ridley attempted to cover up the blocking of the court process by claiming he had issued a press release announcing the inquest postponement through the Counter Terrorism unit of the Metropolitan Police in London. “I would advise you,” said Ridley’s spokesman Debra Twort, “that the Senior Coroner issued a press release advising of the postponement through Counter Terrorism. A further date has not been set.”

No such press release has been issued by the police;  Ridley and Twort have refused repeated requests to produce it. Twort has been ordered to lie to the press in order to cover up the collapse of the case of the so-called Novichok murder.

“Why won’t, or why can’t the British Government,” commented a surprised London investigative source, “support their own narrative of the Skripal case in court after so much time has elapsed for the investigation? This isn’t a matter of catching those culpable,  but of proving, at least to the satisfaction of the Coroner, that a Russian plot and a Russian-sourced nerve agent Novichok were the cause of Sturgess’s death. No inquest means no murder — no murder means no Russian plot. You’d think the British press would be all over this news.” (more…)

MH17 UPDATE – THE NEW UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT IS NOW BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL

By Eric Zuesse*
  @bears_with

The Netherlands Government is resisting an effort by the families of the Dutch victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to find out why,  on July 17, 2014 – the day Flight MH17 was shot down when over the eastern Ukrainian civil war zone — this passenger aircraft had been guided by Ukraine’s air-traffic control to fly through, instead of around the war zone (as it instructed other airliners).

On October 1, 2019, now more than five years after 196 Dutch nationals were killed in that incident, the  Dutch RTL News headlined (as auto-translated into English) “Cabinet considers research into Ukraine’s role in disaster MH17”. RTL reports that “the cabinet will examine whether further research is possible on the role of Ukraine in the disaster with Flight MH17.” The cabinet was being pushed, RTL said, by “a proposal … for the investigation [which has] received the support of all Parties present in the second chamber” of the Dutch Parliament. (more…)

UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH VICTOR PINCHUK IS PUTTING HIS MONEY ON JOE BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT AT $40,000 PER MONTH – THAT’S $3,000 MORE PER MONTH THAN BURISMA WAS PAYING HUNTER BIDEN

 

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Joe Biden’s campaign for president, as well as his defence against charges of corrupt influence peddling and political collusion in the Ukraine, are being promoted in Washington by the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk (lead image, right) through the New York lobbyist, candidate adviser and pollster, Douglas Schoen (left).

This follows several years of attempts by Pinchuk and Schoen to buy influence with Donald Trump, first as a candidate and then as president; with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and with John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser in 2018 and 2019. Their attempts failed.

Pinchuk has been paying Schoen more than $40,000 every month for eight years. The amount of money is substantially greater than Biden’s son Hunter Biden was paid by Pinchuk’s Ukrainian rival Igor Kolomoisky through the oil company Burisma and Rosemont Seneca Bohai, Biden’s New York front company.

Pinchuk’s message for the Democratic candidates and US media, according to Schoen’s Fox News broadcast in August, is: “Stop killing your own, stop beating up on your own frontrunner, Joe Biden.”  

On September 26, Schoen broadcast a fresh warning to the Democrats against the impeachment of Trump. “They stand to lose the presidency and the House. They could blow it all…There’s no slam-dunk here. If [the Democrats] go forward with the impeachment inquiry…and then vote, this could be curtains for the Democrats. And for Joe Biden this is calamitous news because it precludes him getting any positive message out.”   (more…)

ROBERT SERVICE’S PATHETIC FALLACY — BRITISH WARFIGHTER’S GUIDE TO TARGETTING VLADIMIR PUTIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Robert Service (lead images) commits the pathetic fallacy over and over.

It isn’t that his fallacies are pathetic, and so deserve to be pitied. It is that Service takes money for writing histories, purporting to be about Russia, its revolutionary leaders, and now its current leader, by projecting his own emotions on to his targets. It’s the kind of personification intended to convince readers of the hostility of his Russian targets, and Service’s wisdom in judging them for what they are; that’s to say, what deserves to be done to them (if they aren’t dead yet) by people like Service.

Service is a propagandist for Russia-hating, Kremlin-changing warfare. His output is a stream of books aimed by Pan Macmillan — now a German-owned publisher with most of its sales in the US — at American readers inveigled into wanting war with Russia.  

“I came to this project after serving as a witness in the Berezovski v. Abramovich trial in 2011-2012”, Service says by way of his oath to tell the truth at the start of his new testimony against Vladimir Putin. Service’s book, released this week, is called “Kremlin Winter: Russia and the Second Coming of Vladimir Putin.”   From the start line at the title, the assumption is Service’s war-fighting one: Putin is omnipotent in Russia – topple him so the world, as Service is paid to represent it, will be safe from global winter and other Kremlin hostilities.  

What Service doesn’t acknowledge is that he was hired by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to testify as an expert in the High Court case against Boris Berezovsky. Service’s fee is also undisclosed; it would have been more than a vet’s (£90 per hour) but less than a neurosurgeon’s (£171). 

Berezovsky also hired a historian as his witness. Testifying in court at the time, Service warned against the other expert:  “I’m asked to give evidence here as a historian, I don’t accept anybody’s word, just because they say that something happened, without the kind of evidence to back it that does not come from the person who is saying it. So there has to be a sort of — in a perfect world, there has to be a multiplicity of sources to corroborate anything as having happened or not having happened… I would just add the reservation that the statements by big businessmen in Russia in the 1990s about what they did or did not do are riddled with cases of falsification, obfuscation and the rest of it. One has to be very, very careful about accepting anything from any of them.” The evidence for the history of Russia in the 1990s, he concluded, “is just not in yet.”  

Service’s book violates his own warning.

He also starts his book with an acknowledgement of the sources he’s “indebted to”. They include Luke Harding, a London newspaper reporter; Radosław Sikorski, ex-Polish foreign minister; Michael McFaul, ex-US Ambassador to Moscow, Catherine Ashton, ex-European Union foreign affairs commissioner; Toomas Hendrik Ilves, an ex-Estonian president; and Roderic Lyne, vice-chairman of the Chatham House think-tank.   A book on Russian politics with Russia-hating, warfighting sources like these cannot be believed. They are all in the same trench, on the other side of No-Man’s-Land.  (more…)

RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

(more…)

IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

(more…)

THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



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.  

(more…)

EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

(more…)

IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



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.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

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.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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