ELECTION COMMISSIONER PAMFILOVA ANNOUNCES NEW RIGGING FOR CONSTITUTION VOTE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Two weeks is not a long time in Russian politics. But it’s just enough for Kremlin deputy staff chief Sergei Kirienko to send the instruction to the Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova (lead image) that any turnout, big or small, for the national vote on constitutional amendments will be enough.  The 50% turnout required for the validation of the constitutional referendum in December 1993 has been abandoned.

Pamfilova announced in Moscow yesterday: “The individual who considers himself an active citizen, the one who believes that his opinion can and should influence certain decisions, takes part. Knowing our realities, the obligation to vote [Обязаловка] always gives the opposite result.” This is the strongest indication yet that the Kremlin is afraid that the national turnout for the vote, now confirmed for April 22, will be less than 50%.

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SECRET US CHEMICAL WARFARE CONTRACTS AT THE UK PORTON DOWN LAB – DEAD MONKEYS TELL THEIR TALES, BUT LIVE SKRIPALS CAN’T

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The ongoing release of secret information about nerve agent manufacture and testing at Porton Down, the British Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), indicates that monkeys were used as targets for several years before Sergei and Yulia Skripal suffered poisoning in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.

The British kill dose and death speed experiments on the monkeys were paid for by the US Defence Department.  

Publication of the experiment details and the number of monkeys and other animals tested show that the Anglo-American nerve agent weapon programme was under way for several years before the Skripal case began, and has continued since then. This gives the lie to the 2018  declaration to parliament by then-Prime Minister Theresa May that “only Russia had the technical means, operational experience and motive to carry out the attack”. 

That was a special kind of deceit.  May knew that what she intended the House of Commons and everyone outside to believe wasn’t the whole truth. May’s phrase “only Russia” was false, because the rest of the truth was that the UK and US also had the technical means, operational experience and motive to manufacture and test organophosphate weapons like Novichok. This truth May intended to dissemble. 

The top-secret nerve agent programme at DSTL, or Porton Down as it is also known for short, has not been fully disclosed to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); it violates Article II of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC);  concealment from other, non-allied states, is a violation of Article IX of the Convention.

If suspected by the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, the Porton Down operations with Novichok would have been an obvious target for espionage for years before the Skripal attack, and reason thereby for the circulation of GRU agents in the Salisbury area.  If British counter-intelligence suspected that Sergei Skripal might try to pass Porton Down’s Novichok secrets to GRU, and been caught red-handed two years ago, the meaning of next month’s anniversary of the Salisbury incident changes more than a little.   

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OPEN SEASAME! NATO MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES REPEATEDLY REPORTED IN SECRET THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF A RUSSIAN BUK MISSILE IN EASTERN UKRAINE OR FIRING ON MH17

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is twee-2-1024x831.png

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

There was a new release of documents by Bonanza Media, Max van der Werff and Yana Yerlashova on Monday morning. They add to the evidence released last week from the files of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) prosecuting the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 on July 17, 2014.

Two secret reports by Major General Onno Eichelsheim, head of Dutch military intelligence (MIVD), have been disclosed in their Dutch origanals. The first told Dutch prosecutors that the MIVD relied on intelligence obtained from “partner informatie” – partner intelligence — to conclude no Russian BUK missile radar and launch units had crossed the border into Ukraine before or on July 17, 2014; no BUK missile radar targeting or firing on MH17 had been detected; and no identified Russian units on the Russian side of the border had launched missiles.

In his reporting Eichelsheim told the prosecutors his intelligence came from “reliable sources and analyses of all locations”. The prosecutors understood Eichelsheim to be referring to US satellite and airborne electronic surveillance and NATO and British signals monitoring. Despite statements from Washington officials in the aftermath of the shootdown that they had seen US satellite data, and statements from Dutch officials claiming to have been briefed on these data, none has been documented until the Eichelsheim disclosures from the JIT files. Eichelsheim reveals that US intelligence means the opposite of what US officials have told their allies to insist upon.  

A second letter report by Eichelsheim was revealed by Bonanza Media today. Dated September 21, 2016 – the same date as the first report – Eichelsheim identified the same “partner” intelligence – US, NATO and British – for the details of a BUK missile radar and launcher unit detected in the Donetsk area on the day of the shootdown.

Referring to photographs of this unit which had been published on the internet by Ukrainian and NATO propaganda sources, Eichelsheim explicitly denied the BUK  was capable of being fired. “Based on the available information,” Eichelsheim discreetly identified his US and NATO sources. He concluded: “On the internet, there are additional photos (annexes 1 and 2) showing a 9A310M1 radar and launch vehicle of which the electronics section located in the rear of the unit has been completely destroyed.”

This military report flatly contradicts the core allegation in the JIT press statements and the Dutch prosecutors’ indictment charging four men – three Russians, one Ukrainian fighting on the Novorussian side —  with culpable homicide in the downing of MH17. They are scheduled to go on trial, in their absence, next month. According to van der Werff and Yerlashova, Eichelseheim’s agency will neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the two reports.

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NOT SINCE WORLD WAR I HAVE THE TURKS BEEN DEFEATED ON A MIDDLE EASTERN BATTLEFIELD — ERDOGAN CALLS PUTIN ON THE TELEPHONE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Russian and Syrian general staffs and their men have been doing to the Turks what no one has achieved in the Middle East since 1917.

So the Sultan has called the Tsar – three times this month so far; in January, once by telephone, twice in face-to-face meetings; and twice by telephone in December. Every time the telephone rings, it is, as the Kremlin communiqué doesn’t fail to mention, “at the Turkish side’s initiative.”

On the battlefields of northwest Syria, the initiative at the start of each day has been the Turkish side’s, too. But at the end of the day the Russians have inflicted defeat. Not often in five hundred years of communications between the Porte and the Kremlin, has the subliminal message been so clear.     There is another subliminal message from the Kremlin. “We,” Dmitry Peskov, the Turkish-speaking spokesman for the Russian President, said on Wednesday. “used to be satisfied with the agreements reached in Sochi more than a year ago and this satisfaction was mutual. However, we are completely dissatisfied now that militants and terrorists have begun advancing from Idlib and attacking Syrian forces and Russian military installations.” This is a signal from the Moscow lobby for the Turks that it too is in retreat — from the Russian Defence Ministry and the General Staff.

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WHEN THE SKRIPAL TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN THE BBC FICTION, GORILLA RADIO OPENS YOUR EYES

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

If your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the picture you see ought to be preposterous.   

A Russian assassin employed by the military intelligence agency GRU is pointing a bottle of Nina Ricci perfume filled with a deadly nerve agent called Novichok at a man turning the handle of his front-door. The man is Sergei Skripal, a GRU officer himself, who turned double agent for the British; was caught and imprisoned by the Russians; then swapped into a second retirement in Salisbury, in the middle of England, paid for by the British intelligence service, MI6. From the handle to the man’s hand, through his skin, the poison should cause the man’s lungs to seize up in as many seconds as it takes you to look at the picture and judge if the potted bush beside the front-door is a genuine English boxwoood or a plastic one. The man’s heart will then stop, and he’ll be dead. There will be froth from his mouth on the linoleum, and other bodily stains too. Job done, the man in the mask will step clear and bolt out the door. He doesn’t have a getaway car; he’ll be making on foot for the railway station.  But he won’t go direct. He will take a detour to find a place in which to dismantle his weapon, returning the bottle, the atomiser and applicator tube to its Nina Ricci box and wrapper, then toss the lot in a rubbish bin.  

But what if the only genuine thing in the picture is the jagged lightning in the sky? What if the picture is a cartoon of what happened to Skripal on March 4, 2018? Skripal himself would know, but he isn’t allowed by the British authorities to say. That’s the giveaway this picture is a fake. You suspected as much from the start, didn’t you? But if the British Prime Minister, the House of Commons, MI6, the state broadcaster BBC, and everybody else in authority in England insists the cartoon is the truth, who are you to think otherwise, or me to suggest the picture is laughable? Read the book – then try laughing at everybody in authority in England.

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MH17 TRAILER – THE TRUTH BEFORE THE DUTCH, AUSTRALIANS, UKRAINIANS SCREEN THEIR LIE SHOW

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

New evidence leaked last week from the files of the  Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) proves that Dutch state prosecutors  have concealed and suppressed evidence of a direct witness of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine on July 14, 2014.

That witness, a Ukrainian villager under MH17’s flight path, reported to a Dutch police investigator in July 2015 that he had seen two Ukrainian Air Force fighter jets in the air at the time of the shootdown; a plume moving horizontally across the sky, indicating an air-to-air missile launch, not a missile fired from the ground; and the subsequent fall of the MH17 itself.  

Another of the documents leaked shows that Dutch prosecutors have concealed an official report by Major-General Onno Eichelsheim, director of the Dutch military intelligence service (MIVD). Addressed to the National Prosecutor’s Office for Counter-Terrorism, and dated September 21, 2016, Eichelsheim said that “flight MH17 was flying beyond the range of all identified and operational Ukrainian and Russian locations where 9K37M1 Buk M1 systems were deployed.”

A third piece of evidence, hidden until now, is a report by the Australian Federal Police to the JIT dated July 2015. This concludes that images published internationally of a Russian BUK missile carrier alleged to have been the weapon used against MH17 had been “manipulated” and almost certainly had not been recorded at the time of the MH17 incident. The newly discovered evidence is inconclusive on what or who caused the downing of MH17. But the leaked documents show that the Dutch court trial, scheduled to start in The Hague on March 9 is a sham, its evidence inadmissible in a criminal proceeding in the UK or the US.  

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THE CON IN THE CONSTITUTION – KREMLIN LOSES CONTROL OF THE AMENDMENT PROCESS, DELAYS DUMA VOTE, ORDERS ELECTION COMMISSION TO STOP ANSWERING TELEPHONE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Despite an order from President Vladimir Putin to arrange a nationwide vote on his proposed amendments to the Russian Constitution, the Central Election Commission and its director Ella Pamfilova are unable to confirm the contents of the ballot paper, the counting rule for voter approval or disapproval, the threshold of voter turnout for the vote to be valid, or even the date of the vote itself.

“This is a true plebiscite”, Putin told a meeting of the Kremlin-appointed working group on the constitutional amendments last week.   “Citizens of the Russian Federation should record their authorship of the law. It will be as the people say. If the people reaffirm during the vote that they support the law, it will enter in force and amendments will be made to the Constitution. If they do not confirm their support for the law, there will be no amendments to the Constitution.”

A press release, issued the next day by the Commission, claimed that “on February 14, 2020, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed an order to prepare for the all-Russian vote on the approval of changes to the Constitution of the Russian Federation”. The text of the three-page order combines the obvious with the superfluous;  it omits the important altogether. 

Paragraph 1 says: “State authorities, local self-government bodies, and other state bodies and organizations should prepare for the all-Russian vote on approving amendments to the Constitution”.  Nowhere in the six paragraphs which follow does the President make clear what an “all-Russian vote” shall be or do.  Para.2 says the CEC should be in charge of “introduction, operation and development of automation tools, legal training of voters, professional training of members of election commissions and other organizers of elections, referendums, and publication of the necessary printed materials”. Government officials at all levels “should assist election commissions in preparing for the all-Russian vote, as well as in providing logistical support for its preparation”, according to Para. 3. The remaining paragraphs set out how state budget money should be transferred, banked, and disbursed for the CEC’s expenses.

When officials were asked to clarify the rules of the “all-Russian vote” for valid turnout, voter approval or disapproval, and the law regulating this “all-Russian vote”, as distinct from a constitutional referendum, spokesmen for Pamfilova at the CEC and for Sergei Kirienko, the deputy chief of the president’s staff in charge of the vote, refused to say. “We will answer when we are ready,” a CEC official said. Her telephone is no longer being answered. The Commission is unready because Kirienko has been unable to finalize Kremlin agreement on the instructions. In the meantime, the Kremlin has also ordered the State Duma to delay its second-reading debate on the proposed constitutional amendment law for another month. In his February 14 order Putin omitted fixing the date of the national vote for April 22, which had been reported days earlier. That day, the Kremlin did not realize, is the 150th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth.

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SKRIPAL IN PRISON – THE FIRST BOOK TO REPORT THE TRUTH

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It is exactly two years since the case of two Russians, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, began with their collapse on a park bench in the middle of England on the afternoon of March 4, 2018.

On their anniversary it is necessary to tell this story. But it isn’t the story of what happened. This is because the only people who can tell that one, the Skripals, are locked away in isolation, guarded by determined men under secret government orders.

Instead, this is the story of what didn’t happen – provably didn’t happen because it was quite impossible circumstantially; and because the legal papers warranting that it did have not been signed by a judge, tested in a court of law, or released in public.

The facts which you have seen, heard or read about the incident of March 4, 2018, have been falsified. Everything that has flowed from them is false too.  Understanding this is a start to the other story, and so something solid to work from – not missed until now; more like seen but disbelieved. As if the truth were fiction, and the fiction truth.

This is the story of how the largest and longest criminal investigation in modern British history ended in a prosecution without evidence of the crime, the weapon, the crime scene, and even of the crime victims. Allegations there are; evidence admissible in a British court of law there is not. That’s to say, a prosecution which will not be presented in court, before no judge and jury; with no witnesses on oath; and no verdict. That is no prosecution at all.

To say otherwise, as do the British Government, its allies abroad, and every one of its mass circulation media without exception, is a lie. The victims, it turns out, are held in a British prison, at a secret location, incommunicado, without access to lawyers to defend them, without contact with their families, or the consular representatives of the state whose passports they hold. No court has judged them or sentenced them to this punishment.

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BORIS MINTS, RUSSIAN ART PATRON, ISRAEL PHILANTHROPIST, BRITISH CASTLE LORD, AND DANDY DRESSER HAS BEEN DOING IT WITH STOLEN MONEY – LONDON COURT CALLS TIME-OUT (TRUTH)

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The High Court in London has the duty to set the standard for distinguishing between Russian honesty and chicanery (the British varieties too). But it lacks the power. If the court had that, the Prime Minister, the House of Commons, the Secret Intelligence Service, the BBC, Oxford University Press, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs would be convicted of lying their heads off, and despatched from court with damages to pay, plus costs.

So it proved to be last week when the High Court ruled that Russian resident of the UK, Boris Mints, is arguably a grand larcenist whose money and assets, adding up to $570 million,  ought to be frozen until there can be a full adjudication of all the evidence.  This was the third successive High Court ruling to condemn Mints by three judges in just eight months. 

That’s a record for swift unanimity. There’s also a twist in this record, because the High Court has found Mints guilty of running away from the scene of the crime, thereby making near-certain that the part of the case the court has called arguable will be judged to be guilt for the grand larceny itself.

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DAUPHIN OR DOOFUS, ALEXEI KUDRIN TRIES AGAIN

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Heir apparent, or accounting app.

In the politics of the Russian succession, Alexei Kudrin, 59 years of age, has two distinctions. The first is that he is hated by the General Staff, Igor Sechin, and a large number of Russian voters. The second is that he is loved by the US Government, the international banks, the Russian oligarchs, and President Vladimir Putin. He failed once, nine years ago, to replace Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister; Medvedev sacked him. He failed again, in May 2018, to become Putin’s vice president; Putin nominated him to be chairman of the state auditor, the Accounting Chamber, when his parliamentary vote of approval was the lowest ever. Kudrin is trying again, and Moscow sources believe Putin is already advancing him. How far will the two of them get?

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THE ARMENIAN CONNECTION – PRIME MINISTER MISHUSTIN DISQUALIFIED FROM OFFICE BY PUTIN’S CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Mikhail Mishustin, the prime minister appointed by President Vladimir Putin on the evening of January 15, would be disqualified from holding office when the new eligibility rule which Putin proposed earlier that day becomes law. This is because Mishustin’s mother is reported to be of Armenian nationality, and under Armenian law that automatically entitles Mishustin to “live permanently in a foreign state”.

“State service is to serve the people,” Putin announced in his Federal Assembly speech, launching a set of constitutional proposals now moving to enactment in the State Duma. “Those who enter this path must know that by doing this they inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances. I suggest formalising at the constitutional level the obligatory requirements for those who hold positions of critical significance for national security and sovereignty. More precisely, the heads of the constituent entities, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, the prime minister and his/her deputies, federal ministers, heads of federal agencies and judges should have no foreign citizenship or residence permit or any other document that allows them to live permanently in a foreign state.”

To address widespread reporting of Mishustin’s Armenian connection in the Russian and Armenian press, Mishustin’s spokesman at the Prime Ministry was asked: “What response does the Prime Minister make to press reporting that his mother was of Armenian nationality? What is the maiden name of the Prime Minister’s mother?” The spokesman did not respond on the telephone, and asked for an email.  Mishustin refuses to answer.

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FIRST NATIONAL POLL OF RUSSIANS ON THE PRESIDENT’S CONSTITUTION – HALF THE COUNTRY FAILS PUTIN ON THE SINCERITY TEST

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The first independent national opinion poll to measure Russian interpretations of President Vladimir Putin’s proposals for changing the Constitution has been reported by the Levada Centre in Moscow.   The results show a sharp decline in Russian confidence that the Constitution protects their rights and freedoms. On the meaning of Putin’s proposals for the division of power between executive and legislature,  the country is split down the middle. Half believe the proposals are a sincere reform; half believe they are a cynical power grab. This has not yet produced a measurable change, up or down,  in the national approval rating for the President. That was  reported last week by Levada at 68%. The polling was done in mid-December.  

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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.

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