MAY DAY! MAYDAY!

By John Helmer, Moscow

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

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HOW THE BRITISH POLICE PREPARED FOR THE ATTACK ON SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL, FOUR DAYS IN ADVANCE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Armed British police, plus ambulance and medical crews, drone and helicopter pilots,  firefighters,  and the head doctor of the Salisbury District Hospital’s emergency department were preparing for the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal just four days before Russian military assassins arrived from Moscow allegedly carrying a lethal chemical weapon in a perfume bottle.  

Not counting the Skripals and the Russians, the British forces numbered at least two hundred. They were mobilized through the afternoon and night of February 27 until the morning of February 28, in the centre of Swindon, Wiltshire; that is a city 70 kilometres (40 miles) north of Salisbury, also in Wiltshire. The Skripals collapsed at 4:15 in the afternoon of March 4, in the centre of Salisbury. At least two of the paramedics who arrived at the scene to evacuate them to hospital had been practising in the Swindon operation.

“There is no intelligence that Swindon is at risk,” a senior police officer had warned, “but I hope members of the public understand we need to be ready and prepared for any eventuality. This is Wiltshire Police getting ourselves – along with our colleagues in the fire and ambulance services – in the best position so we’re ready for anything.”

Until the Skripals are released by the British authorities and permitted to speak freely to their family, their lawyers, and the press, it is not known whether they too were warned in advance to be “ready for anything.”

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BLIND JUSTICE, DUMB LAWYERS IN THE MH17 TRIAL — NEW DUTCH COURT RULING ALLOWS SECRET WITNESS TESTIMONY FOR THE PROSECUTION

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A new ruling by three Dutch judges in the trial of Russia for having shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 will allow the Ukrainian secret service, the SBU, to present fabricated witness evidence without investigation or cross-examination by defence lawyers representing one of the four military officers accused of launching a BUK anti-aircraft missile at MH17. On July 17, 2014, the aircraft was destroyed above eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.  

The two Dutch defence lawyers, Sabine ten Doesschate (lead image, centre) and Boudewijn van Eijck (right), have attempted to keep the court proceeding secret since mid-March when they were asked to clarify if they had filed a challenge to the use of secret witness statements in the trial, which began hearings in public on March 9.

A secret hearing followed on April 6 when ten Doesschate appeared in person. Two weeks later, a 16-page judgement was signed by three judges of the District Court of The Hague, Alexander Boogers, B.W. Mulder, and Mariette Renckens; an official translation into English was then prepared.  Ten Doesschate and van Eijck were asked last Thursday morning, April 23, to confirm that the judgement had been issued.

“Should you fail to respond,” ten Dosschate and van Eijck were told, “you will be reported as conducting yourselves in a manner that is inconsistent with the duties of a lawyer in defence of a client in a serious criminal case, with the intention on your parts, individually and collectively, to dissemble, mislead, falsify, and prejudice the defence you claim to represent and for which you are receiving money in payment.” Ten Doesschate and van Eijck have refused to answer.

International criminal lawyers who have reviewed the detailed summary of the lawyers’ argument in the new court document have condemned ten Doesschate and van Eijck for their failure to make an adequate defence. They are “sweetheart lawyers working for the prosecution”, commented one.

Reviewing the Dutch ruling, Christopher Black, a Canadian attorney who defended in the international war crimes trials for Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, said “the defence in this trial has now been reduced to a fig leaf. From reading this [ruling] and the language [the judges] use, it appears the defence will never have a chance to properly contest the charges. Since they cannot do that, they should walk out, hold a press conference explaining why, and face the consequences.”

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HOW MANY WITNESSES ARE THERE OF SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL AT THE SALISBURY HOSPITAL IN MARCH 2018 WHEN THEY WERE UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THESE MEDICAL STAFF?

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

One nurse and two doctors have testified that they were in charge of the medical treatment of Sergei and Yulia Skripal when they were admitted to Salisbury District Hospital in the early evening of March 4, 2018. Sarah Clark (lead image, left) was the senior sister in charge of the shift at the Radnor Ward’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Duncan Murray (centre) was the doctor in charge of the unit.  Stephen Jukes (right) was one of several doctors assigned to the ICU; he was the one responsible for the Skripals.

If the Skripals were to exercise their legal right to apply to the British High Court for review of the terms of their confinement in secret and in isolation – or if their Russian next of kin in Yaroslavl, or the Russian Embassy in London applied to the court on their behalf — Clark, Murray and Jukes would be summonsed to testify to what they witnessed at the hospital two years ago. What they would say under cross-examination and in fear of committing perjury  would not be the same thing they have already said publicly.

Photographs of the crime scene, the Salisbury Hospital Radnor Ward, where the three medical staff say they treated the Skripals, have just been obtained. The hospital ward was a crime scene because evidence of the weapon allegedly used in the crime against the Skripals was in their bloodstreams and in the medical records kept by the nurses and doctors in the ward. The photographs  illustrate one of the gaps between what was true then and what is false now. 

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MALCOLM TURNBULL’S RUSSIA STORY – EX-PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA TRIES NEW COMEBACK WITH OLD BRAIN

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Malcolm Turnbull is the most intelligent man ever to become Australian prime minister, and to have left office more stupid than he began. Among the governments south of the Equator, this is without precedent. Since Turnbull served as head of government for only three years, 2015 to 2018, when he was 61 to 64 years of age, he has set the medical record for non-traumatic early-onset senescence in the cerebrum; that’s the part of the brain responsible for learning. He didn’t; he can’t.

This week Turnbull has published a book of selections from his life aimed at refreshing his credentials to retake the political power he lost to rivals. His display of the symptoms that caused him to lose it is undiminished.

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SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL – IN PRISON TOGETHER OR IN SOLITARY?

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The last people to say they saw Sergei and Yulia Skripal together were two medical staff members at Salisbury District Hospital. The first was Senior Sister Sarah Clark, who was in charge of the evening shift at the Salisbury hospital’s Intensive Care Unit; the second was Dr Stephen Davies, a consultant in the Emergency Department of the hospital.

According to the British Government, the two Skripals were attacked by a chemical nerve agent in the centre of Salisbury at about 4:15 on the afternoon of Sunday, March 4, 2018, then rushed by ambulance to the Salisbury hospital. The nerve agent was reported later – at least thirty-six hours later, perhaps longer – to have been identified by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down as an organophosphate chemical warfare agent called Novichok produced in Russia. The British Government’s version of what happened is that the nerve agent was despatched from Moscow with assassins of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. Two men have been named and publicly accused by British prosecutors with attempted murder and other crimes.

The Skripals survived the alleged attack, and have recovered from its medical effects. Public releases by the hospital claim Yulia Skripal was released on April 9, 2018; her separation from her father was confirmed thereby. Sergei Skripal was reportedly released from hospital on May 18. In two subsequent telephone calls Yulia made to her cousin and grandmother in Russia, and in a brief televised statement filmed by the US news agency Reuters on May 23, she referred to her father’s medical recovery, but did not say he was living with her. The Reuters film was recorded in a parkland corner of the Royal Air Force base at Fairford, north of Salisbury. The base is run by United States Air Force intelligence and bomber staffs.

Yulia’s last telephone contact with her family in Russia was on July 24, 2018. She has not been heard from since.

Sergei Skripal has been recorded in three brief telephone calls to his niece’s and mother’s home in Yaroslavl; they took place on April 4, 2019; May 9, 2019; and June 26, 2019. Only the May 9 call has been broadcast by the Russian media; it lasted for less than 30 seconds. Sergei did not mention Yulia nor did he say he was living with her. He has been incommunicado since June 26, 2019.

Describing her role in treating the Skripals at Salisbury Hospital, Clark gave an interview to the BBC which was broadcast on May 30, 2018. Contacted at the Radnor Ward Intensive Care Unit this week, Clark now refuses to confirm she had personally seen the two Skripals at the hospital following their admission, claiming she is “not allowed to give any information”.

Two years ago Davies was working at the Emergency Department of Salisbury Hospital when the Skripals were admitted. Days later he wrote a letter to The Times newspaper reporting what he claimed then were the circumstances. Davies continues his work in the Emergency Department, and was contacted there this week. He now refuses to answer any question about the Skripals.

The British Government has prevented the Skripals from speaking publicly or testifying in court to what they believed had happened to them. Their whereabouts are secret.

When the hospital staff witnesses are no longer sticking to their eyewitness testimony, then everything which has followed, including press statements from the hospital, the Metropolitan Police in London, and two court records – one from the Court of Protection of the High Court in London, and one from the Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner’s Court in Salisbury – can no longer be taken as credible evidence in the case.

Not only have the Skripals disappeared into a form of British immuration, but they have also been separated from each other. This exceptional isolation is fresh evidence that the official narrative of the Skripal case is false, and that the Skripals are being held, not for their protection by the British from the Russians, but in punishment and solitary confinement.

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THE GOSPEL VERSION OF RUSSIA – CATHERINE BELTON AND SERGEI PUGACHEV PREACH A SERMON FOR RUPERT MURDOCH TO SELL, AND FOR LUKE HARDING TO PROSELYTISE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

If Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot and Joshua Barabbas had combined to produce the eye-witness book on the life and death of Jesus Christ, whose anniversary falls this month, it wasn’t heard of when it was newsworthy, in the first years of the first century AD; readers have been deterred from looking for it ever since. Religious faith does that sort of thing to eye-witness testimony, documents, financial accounts, court rulings and other forms of evidence.

Likewise, Catherine Belton (lead image, centre) has produced a book with Sergei Pugachev (left), the man who stole more than two billion dollars from the Central Bank of Russia and other banks; was convicted in a British court of trying to hide it; fled to France to escape two years in prison if the English can catch him. Paying to print and market their collaboration is Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s (first right) media holding, News Ltd.

Together, Belton and Pugachev have composed a gospel about the evil that is Russia under President Vladimir Putin, and the virtue they say they believed in when Boris Yeltsin was ruler. “We were sitting in the kitchen of Pugachev’s latest residence, a three-storey townhouse in the well-heeled London area of Chelsea,” Belton begins, introducing the faith the two of them share with Mikhail Khodorkovsky (lead image, extreme right); the ghost of the hanged Boris Berezovsky; Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin’s son-in-law; and others identified anonymously as the collaborators upon whom Belton relies and whom she requires her co-religionists to accept as gospel too.

Three disciples have sworn their faith publicly so far – Luke Harding of The Guardian; Edward Lucas of The Times, and Oliver Bullough, once a reporter at the BBC. “The most remarkable account so far,” says Harding,  “of Putin’s rise from a KGB operative to deadly agent provocateur in the hated west”.   “Its only flaw,” Harding  mentions, “is a heavy reliance on well-placed anonymous sources. Talking publicly about Kremlin corruption is dangerous, as the polonium fate of Alexander Litvinenko shows. Still, the lack of names can be frustrating.” Frustrating is the word that came to St. Paul’s mind when he was having directional trouble on the road between Jerusalem and Damascus. Inadmissible in a court of law, Pilate would have said.  A pack of lies, according to Judas and Barabbas.

“Fact, not fiction,” declared Edward Lucas, an employee on the fiction floor of the same London office building as Harper Collins. “Catherine Belton, for years a Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, relates it with clarity, detail, insight and bravery.” “The Putin book that we’ve been waiting for,” Bullough said messianically.     You won’t be risking perdition yourself if you don’t wait.

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HIGH COURT DECISIONS ENCOURAGE RUSSIAN RUNAWAY CAPITAL IN LONDON


by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

For catching birds it’s old-fashioned child’s play to put salt on their tails. But fooling the bird in order to get close enough with the salt-shaker, before the bird takes off, is a job for grown-ups.  

When it comes to catching fugitive bankers, money launderers and the families of corrupt state officials in Russia and the former states of the Soviet Union,  the two-year history of the British National Crime Authority’s (NCA) Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) is faltering because the courts require more than suspicious police and allegations promoted in the press.

Last week, the High Court ruled that  NCA lawyers, prosecutors and investigators had made “unreliable” assumptions; conducted “inadequate investigation of the obvious”;  applied “artificial and flawed reasoning”; were “unfair” in their evaluation of the evidence as well as pursuing targets “without any evidence”. “It is ultimately for the Court, not the NCA, to determine whether there is ‘reasonable cause to believe’,” Justice Dame Beverly Lang decided on April 8, dismissing three Unexplained Wealth Orders, together with three asset freeze orders covering several London residential properties worth about £80 million. Through a network of offshore foundations, trusts, and cut-out companies these belong to Dariga Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev, daughter and grandson of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the ruler of Kazakhstan. Nazarbayeva is currently the speaker of the Kazakh Senate.

The stinging rebuke to the NCA, and a pending appeal of two earlier court judgements against Zamira Hajiyeva, the wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, are likely to slow down, or stop altogether, the pursuit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson (lead image, left) of Russian runaways in the UK.

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HOW BEING POOR AND SOVIET HAS HELPED SAVE RUSSIANS FROM COVID-19 — THE TUBERCULOSIS STORY AND THE YELTSIN-CHUBAIS VIRUS

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Inoculation against tuberculosis, the official Soviet state policy for almost a century, continues to shield the Russian population with a higher level of immunological resistance than those in Europe and the US who lack the vaccination.  This has also been a well-tested finding in western and Indian medical publications; in India   vaccination against TB is mandatory.  This link between the anti-TB vaccination and the rate and severity of Covid-19 infection is now official Russian policy.

“According to some data, those who are vaccinated with BCG [Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine], the course of Covid-19 is lighter,” the Health Minister Vitaly Murashko announced earlier this month.    “This is now widely discussed in international reviews. The fact is that it can have a certain meaning, it probably can,” Veronika Skvortsova followed, telling national television news. “For now I think that we won’t discuss the mechanisms of immune restructuring, but [CBG vaccination] does play a role.”  Skvortsova was Murashko’s predecessor as health minister between 2012 and February of this year; she is now director of the Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA).

Caution: the link is a statistical correlation. It is not a finding that is clear on the biomedical mechanism which is at work in the lungs. But because the correlation is a strong one, there’s another conclusion which the Russian medical administration has begun to emphasize. This is to rebuild the public health measures of the Soviet period which were destroyed by the virus introduced by President Boris Yeltsin and his chief of staff and privatizer of state property, Anatoly Chubais, from the virus source in Washington during the 1990s.

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SKRIPAL IN PRISON – PAUL ROBINSON IN WITNESS BOX

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Paul Robinson (lead image, right), a professor at the University of Ottawa, has published a defence of the British Government’s indictment of the Russian Government for an attempt to assassinate Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent. “That’s the official narrative, which most people accept”, according to Robinson. He wants you to know he does too.

To the analysis of evidence of what happened, and didn’t happen,  in the Salisbury town incidents of March 4, 2018, and the legal consquences which have ensued over the two years since, Robinson concludes: “I can only say ‘phooey’.” In what Robinson calls a book review of “Skripal in Prison”, he has concluded: “Helmer [lead image, left] produces not a jot of evidence…I find it odd, therefore, that he’s so keen to let the Russians off the hook for the Skripal poisoning. Perhaps the reason lies in his conspiratorial frame of mind…He’s the sort of guy who thinks that for every crime the GRU have committed, MI6 and the CIA have committed two. It’s not my frame of mind at all. But then perhaps I’m part of the conspiracy too!”

Robinson teaches politics. In his past, he was educated at Oxford University and between 1989 and 1994 he was a Russia analyst in the British Army Intelligence Corps, before serving as a reservist in the Canadian military with the same function. In the secret services and in universities, Robinson has never been subject to the British legal standards of evidence or proof of crime beyond reasonable doubt. That is, until he launched this attack in defence of his old British Army oath, and then ran into a cross-examination on a different oath – the courtroom one to tell the truth. You be the jury. 

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NEW RUSSIAN TAX PUTS THE KIBOSH ON CYPRUS

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It is now a fortnight since President Vladimir Putin (lead image, left) announced  a tax on Russians exporting their cash and capital to tax avoidance havens abroad;  and since Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin followed to explain that Cyprus is the target. “We have started implementing the instructions on taxing dividends from foreign accounts with Cyprus”, Mishustin said at a Kremlin meeting with Putin on April 1. “The Cypriot government has been notified of the changes in the agreement on avoiding dual taxation.”  

 “For Putin to make his remark in a national address,” comments a Moscow finance source, “and then for Mishustin to confirm that Cyprus was intended in the President’s speech shows this is now a high priority move.  It reveals how upset the Kremlin – especially Andrei Belousov [first deputy prime minister] — has been with the role Cyprus plays in the outflow of Russian capital. I do not see any government allowing capital flight now during a deep and lasting recession.”

“This sounds a death knell for Cyprus accountants and law firms,” says a Limassol investor. “This is their biggest business. From now on only the most hardened criminals or escapees from Russia will be here.”

There has been a flurry of press leaks from Cyprus Government officials claiming that the Russian move is not targeting Cyprus. But no official at the Foreign and Finance Ministries in Moscow, nor at the Russian Embassy in Nicosia, has said this on the record. According to Mishustin and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, the new rules are still being decided, and will be announced on April 24.     

By the way, the kibosh was an iron bar used two hundred years ago by cobblers in the north of England to flatten leather as they were making clogs. When the word reached the streets of London, it meant flatten in more ways than that one. The government of President Nicos Anastasiades (lead image, right) and Nicos Christodoulides, his foreign minister and aspiring successor, having chosen last year to cut their ties to Russia in exchange for American promises to protect the island from the Turks, is the clog in this story.

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THE SKRIPAL AND MH17 LIES ARE CAMOUFLAGE FOR STOPPING COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA TO FIGHT COVID-19 — GORILLA RADIO GOES VIRAL

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Late last week the 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) agreed unanimously on a statement of “solidarity of countries in the fight against the pandemic”. They also agreed unanimously there is “no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic.”

On the explicit opposition of Ukraine, Georgia, the US, the UK, and the European Union, the UN did not agree on “the rejection of trade wars and the use of unilateral sanctions adopted in circumvention of the UN Security Council to ensure urgent access to food and medicine, as well as countering financial speculation with essential goods.”  This was the language of a resolution drafted by Russia.

Thus has the world decided that warfare is an essential service and should continue without lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, hand-washing, or restriction of any kind.

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY PARADOX SOLVED – WHY DOES SUCH A SMART INTELLIGENCE AGENCY KEEP GETTING OUTSMARTED BY THE RUSSIANS?

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Now for a psycho-shocker of a spy story in which the National Security Agency’s (NSA) chief of the Research Directorate goes head to head with Russians whom his research proves tried “to change the outcome of our presidential election”, and then tried to kill Sergei Skripal to “serve[d] as a warning to Russia’s adversaries”.

The psycho-shock has already happened to the NSA chief and storyteller, Eric Haseltine (lead images),  so he is paralysed by a Russian weapon that’s about to psycho-shock the reader. That’s you.

After you read this, you will never again be able to type on a keyboard without anticipating that the “diabolically clever” Russians are reading every word. But maybe you are suspicious the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) might be doing the same thing? “Naw”, says Michael Arneson, Haseltine’s hero and NSA engineer from a dirt poor Minnesota family with no more than a high school diploma, and whose favourite drink is Mr Pibb. “The CIA is way too incompetent to create something this good.”  In this tale,  American heroes fit to fight the Russians and save you from your keyboards,  talk like that.

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THE MH17 TRIAL – THE FALSE FRONT

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Dutch lawyers leading the defence against the charge of premeditated murder in the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, have no experience of litigation in cases involving aircraft crashes, war crimes, military crimes, or homicide – except for cases when they have defended Dutch police accused of shooting people on the streets of Rotterdam.     

The first of the defence lawyers, Sabine ten Doesschate, has never conducted a defence in a murder trial; in her short career so far, she has specialized in white collar fraud. Her leader, Boudewijn van Eijck, has a career record of defending Rotterdam police in collaboration with Rotterdam police commanders and prosecutors; at the time they included Fred Westerbeke, lead prosecutor of the MH17 investigation, and Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi, one of the three prosecutors now in court.

Asked if his relationships with them create a conflict for him to defend in this trial, van Eijck  refuses to answer.  “Our focus is the MH17 case,” he said through a spokesman on Friday, “not the professional careers of the lawyers.”

Ten Doeschate and van Eijck have announced they have engaged a Dutch public relations company called Headline Communications and a spokesman named Martin van Putten.  The company has no operating record in The Netherlands. Responding to questions emailed over two weeks about the two lawyers, their expertise to mount a professional defence, and their conflicts of interest, Van Putten at first lied; then insisted “we do not comment in the media until after the next [court] session on June 8th.”  When asked by telephone to clarify the lawyers’ silence and misleading statements he has made on their behalf, he cut the telephone line.

The third lawyer on the team, Yelena Kutyina, is a Moscow lawyer with trial experience defending media personalities in assault and injury compensation claims and appearing herself as a judge in television courtroom shows.  Asked to describe her experience in criminal trials, Kutyina refuses to answer.

“So far as I can tell,” commented veteran war crimes defence lawyer Christopher Black, a Canadian, “so far as I can tell, they are not acting like a real defence.”

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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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