AUGUST IS THE MONTH FOR PROSPECTING – THAT’S PICK-AXING THROUGH LIES, SLUICING ILLUSIONS

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Truth is the safest lie.

That’s an adage so old the ancient Hebrews have claimed it as one of their own, attributing it to their mythical wise man King Solomon. He was especially keen to condemn lying, especially lying women (they were Solomon’s big problem — 700 wives, 300 concubines, according to the Book of Kings). But the one about truth as the safest lie is Solomon’s most sophisticated, least obvious idea, cynical even.

That’s why it has stood the test of time without Solomon’s heirs having a second thought about applying it on the land, in the press, and to the people they rule. What the adage means is that in situations where lying and deception are common, even performed in the public interest – in wars, parliaments, courts, police and intelligence operations – publication of the truth won’t be believed.  That’s also when the truth-teller will be dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, enemy agent, troll, or madman. Truth then becomes the secret service’s weapon of disinformation.

Take the big lies of the moment – that President Donald Trump colluded with President Vladimir Putin to defeat Hillary Clinton; that Putin ordered the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and the nerve-agent assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal; that President Xi Jinping ordered, then covered up Chinese manufacture and release of the corona virus — no amount of evidence that these are falsehoods, nor repetition of the truth, can defeat the lies.

But liars can be defeated, a secret British court revealed this week. Well, not exactly defeated so much as interrupted or deterred.

(more…)

AUSTRIA CONFIRMS OPCW REPORT ON SKRIPAL FAKING BY THE BRITISH – VIENNA EXPOSES FINANCIAL TIMES LIES AND COVER-UP

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Austria officially confirmed this week that the British Government’s allegation that Novichok, a Russian chemical warfare agent, was used in England by GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, in March 2018, was a British invention.

Investigations in Vienna by four Austrian government ministries, the BVT intelligence agency, and by Austrian prosecutors have revealed that secret OPCW reports on the blood testing of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, copies of which were transferred to the Austrian government,  did not reveal a Russian-made nerve agent.

Two reports, published in Vienna this week by the OE media group and reporter Isabelle Daniel, reveal that the Financial Times publication of the cover-page of one of the OPCW reports exposed a barcode identifying the source of the leaked documents was the Austrian government. The Austrian Foreign Ministry and the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung (BVT), the domestic intelligence agency equivalent to MI5 or FBI, have corroborated the authenticity of the documents.

The Austrian disclosures also reveal that in London the Financial Times editor, Roula Khalaf, four of the newspaper’s reporters,  and the management of the Japanese-owned company have fabricated a false and misleading version of the OPCW evidence and  have covered up British government lying on the Skripal blood testing and the Novichok evidence.

(more…)

MI6 CHIEF YOUNGER FOLLOWS CABINET AND NATIONAL SECURITY CHIEF SEDWILL OUT THE DOOR — SECOND SKRIPAL PLOTTER HAS BEEN OUSTED

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Novichok still kills.

The world’s slowest acting nerve agent, sprayed on a front door handle in a dead-end street in Salisbury, England, in the early afternoon of March 4, 2018, has just resulted in the career termination of Sir Alex Younger (lead image, right), chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The announcement was issued on Wednesday afternoon by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London.

Younger has been replaced at MI6 by Richard Moore, currently a third-ranking official of the Foreign Office, an ex-Ambassador to Turkey; an ex-MI6 agent; and a Harvard graduate.

That March day in Salisbury, when Sir Mark Sedwill (lead image, left) was in charge at the Cabinet Office and the National Security Advisor’s post, and Younger running MI6, was the greatest day for their faction of British policy towards Russia, Enemy Number One. It might have been their greatest humiliation when Sergei Skripal, one of their double agent recruits from Russian military intelligence, tried to do a runner for Moscow in a GRU exfiltration operation. Had that succeeded, Skripal would have been exposed as a triple agent, escaping with a treasure trove of secrets of British chemical warfare preparations at Porton Down, plus fresh MI6 identities and operations. Instead, Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, were paralysed by a British nerve agent, and then confined, first in hospital and at a secret location ever since.

It was, as the Duke of Wellington once said of his last battle with Napoleon at Waterloo, “a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”

The Sedwill-Younger narrative of what happened on the day; the British prosecution case against two GRU agents for the Novichok attack; and the ongoing inquest  into the cause of Dawn Sturgess’s death remain at risk of exposure. To reduce that risk and move on to a new policy towards Russia and other enemies, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief advisor Dominic Cummings have now forced Sedwill and Younger into retirement, concealing the purge and their purpose.

(more…)

MOSCOW’S CITIZEN SURVEILLANCE REGIME – EYE OR PIE IN THE SKY

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In a plan Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin initiated two years ago called “Smart City 2030”, the Russian capital has attempted to catch up with China’s cities and to London in the mobilization of electronic and digital tools for following the city’s inhabitants, enforcing the laws, and catching criminals, tax cheats, speeders —  and political protesters.

Most of these tools can be spotted fixed to lamp posts and other street furniture; some are on board drones flying in the air; some are underground at metro stations and on subway trains. Invisible is the surveillance of telephone calls and messages; social media; and internet communication.  

On the hardware and software, the equivalent of about a billion US dollars has been spent every year for the past five years by the Moscow government’s Department of Information Technology. That doesn’t count parallel spending by the municipal and federal agencies in charge of physical and financial security and public health, and by commercial organisations engaged in transportation, marketing, telecommunications, and banking.   

The introduction of the corona virus quarantine measures has accelerated the spending — and the sensitivity of most Muscovites to their privacy, and their suspicion of government officials’   motives. There have been many press reports in the city detailing the extent of the visual, audio, internet and other surveillance measures which have been installed or are planned. Opposition is growing – and if expressed in public gatherings, carefully recorded. So this month an application was filed by two Moscow political activists to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). They are asking for a ruling that the city’s facial recognition measures when used by police to monitor public meetings and demonstrations are an unlawful infringement of individual human rights under the European Convention.

 “We’ve been sold out already,” headlined Tsargrad.tv. last week.     “The electronic concentration camp is in action.”

Most Russians don’t agree. In the first national opinion poll carried out in mid-April, 75% of the population countrywide said they support the measures taken by their regional or city governments;  13% were opposed; 12% declined to answer. The residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg were almost as compliant and supportive – 73%. Also, more of them are opposed – 19%.  In late May a second poll showed that among Muscovites, 57% approved; 39% disapproved.

(more…)

NOVICHOK NEWS – DOSH FOR DAWN’S DEATH DASHED

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The bid by London lawyer Michael Mansfield (lead image, right) to take a multi-million pound payoff  out of the Wiltshire coroner’s inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess (left), alleged victim of Russian  poisoning on July 8, 2018,  failed in the High Court on Friday.

A two-judge panel decided that a ruling last December by Senior Coroner David Ridley on the scope of his inquest into Sturgess’s death – allegedly caused by a Russian-made nerve agent called Novichok  — was faulty in law,  but not in fact or evidence. The judges accepted every allegation about the circumstances of Sturgess’s death by the British Government, repeated by Ridley but so far unattested or cross-examined in either the Wiltshire or London court. In sending the case back to Ridley, the High Court did not direct him to correct mistakes of evidence because none was found.

Mansfield had been hoping the court would order the coroner to broaden his investigation into the Russian state role, exposing thereby what Mansfield claims to have been British Government negligence in protecting Sturgess from the Russian danger.

“Investigating the source of the Novichok,”  the court decided, “and whether Messrs Petrov and Boshirov were acting under the direction of others either in London or in Russia, would not be a process designed to lead to a determination of a question which s 10(2)(a) prohibits the inquest from determining… There is acute and obvious public concern not merely at the prima facie evidence that an attempt was made on British soil by Russian agents to assassinate Mr Skripal and that it led to the death of Ms Sturgess, but also at the fact that it involved the use of a prohibited nerve agent exposing the population of Salisbury and Amesbury to lethal risk. There has been, and (to be realistic) there will be, no criminal trial in which the details of how this appalling event came to occur can be publicly examined. We are not saying that the broad discretion given to the Coroner can only be exercised in a way which leads to an inquest or public inquiry as broad and as lengthy as in the Litvinenko case: that is not for a court to say. We can do no more than express our doubts that the remoteness issues raised by the Senior Coroner in paragraph 82 (and referred to in paragraph 85) can properly justify an investigation as narrow as that which he has proposed. Conclusion. We allow the claim on Ground 1 only and dismiss it on Ground 2.”

Contorted by qualifiers and double negatives, the judges — London legal experts believe — have camouflaged their intention in returning the inquest to Ridley to make no practical difference to the outcome, and thereby protect the government from a challenge to the veracity of their Novichok story. Ridley has not been ordered to include in his investigation full disclosure of the CCTV, medical, biochemical and witness evidence;   or to call into the Wiltshire court the two obvious witnesses to the alleged use of Novichok,  Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Without the threat these witnesses and their evidence pose to the official narrative of what happened to the Skripals and Sturgess, Mansfield has no bargaining power to negotiate compensation for his clients. Mansfield doesn’t speak to the press except to advertise his claims in the case to the Guardian. That newspaper has not reported Mansfield’s reaction to Friday’s verdict, but conceded he has failed to shake Ridley’s decision to restrict the inquest. “It will be up to him,” the newspaper said, “to look again at the scope of the inquest and decide how to proceed.”

(more…)

JOE BIDEN ADVANCE TEAM RECOMMENDS BRITISH APPROACH TO FIGHTING RUSSIA – START THE DISINFORMATION BEFORE THE FACT, THE FAKE BEFORE THE TRUTH — DOUBT IS RUSSIAN MIND CONTROL

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

A junior member of Joe Biden’s team in waiting to take over the Pentagon, the State Department, and the National Security Council has recommended the US employ the British method of fighting Russia with the technique of “getting ahead of adversary tactics to strike either just before or immediately after a major decision, vote, or event.”  

Doubt, she concludes, is a Russian tactic of mind control. Truth by itself isn’t enough to  combat the Kremlin. Propaganda is required in advance to ensure public confidence and to deter Russian skepticism.

Rachel Ellehuus wrote this in a report she released at a Washington think-tank on Monday, July 20.  Entitled “Mind the Gaps: Assessing Russian Influence in the United Kingdom”, Ellehuus said “an analysis of the UK experience offers some indicators as to what deters Russia. In the case of the Skripal poisoning, UK officials’ success was due to several factors. First, there was coordinated messaging. Rather than each department issuing its own response (creating gaps for Russia to exploit), the various stakeholders ultimately coordinated their response through the Cabinet Office…Second, the messaging was followed by the public release of evidence to include the identity of the Russian agents, closed-circuit television footage of them around the crime scene, and records of their hotel and flights. Finally, the international community called out Russia on the international norms it had violated. Their words were then followed by punitive measures.”

Ellehuus presented her report in a webinar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She was joined by the British Ambassador to the US, Dame Karen Pierce, and Luke Harding, an info-warfare reporter. Ellehuus’s report and Harding’s appearance were paid for by the State Department. “On the funding”, Ellehuus acknowledged by email, “this is a U.S. government grant from State Department’s Global Engagement Center.”

(more…)

THE POINT AT WHICH THERE IS NO LONGER ANY POINT – HOW RUSSIA TALKS TO ITS ENEMIES, FRIENDS

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

There’s an invariable rule of politics the world over.

“It was worthwhile making sure of your potential friends,” the English novelist C.P. Snow put into the mouth of a rising cabinet minister in London a half-century ago. “As a rule you couldn’t win over your enemies, but you could lose your friends.”

In his career, President Vladimir Putin has accepted and followed only half that rule: he always keeps his friends — the Russian ones. Unfortunately, neither Putin nor his friends have understood the other half. That can be judged an improvement, nationally and historically speaking.

Lenin and Stalin understood  they couldn’t win over their enemies; they also shared an ideology explaining  why such conflict was unceasing, permanent. Since Lenin and Stalin had few friends and ended up treating them like enemies, the second half of the rule didn’t apply. Mikhail Gorbachev got both parts of the rule wrong. For different reasons so did Boris Yeltsin. Their mistakes have cost Russia and the Russians mightily, especially those who thought the ideology of permanent conflict wasn’t true.  

The same mistake might have happened to Putin if not for Russian soldiers whose ideology and whose job it is to do nothing but fight enemies. So, nationally speaking, Russians are today as good or better at fighting enemies as ever they have been. Between the Russian military and Russia’s enemies, Putin and his friends have been taught there is no winning by negotiation or persuasion, only by force. It’s less certain Putin’s friends are convinced this is so, especially towards the US and the UK, where the friends have sent their money and their children.

But those Russians have failed to win over the Americans and British. They have nothing to show for the process except for the inflated bills they have paid; a handful of foreign friends they have betrayed; and the limitless contempt of their enemies for having made the effort in the first place. Since the civil war started in the Ukraine in 2014 and sanctions followed, their bank accounts are today unprotected from freeze and unexplained wealth orders.

This is by way of reflection on two attempts this past week of Russian state spokesmen to defend Russia against its enemies by persuasion, not by force. The two are Maria Zakharova,  spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and Kirill Dmitriev, chairman of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the state sovereign wealth fund.  They failed with the enemies; this is to be expected and unremarkable.   But what friends they thought they were addressing and how they lost them – that’s the breaking news.  

(more…)

FINANCIAL TIMES EDITOR KHALAF FAKES OPCW REPORTS ON SKRIPAL-STURGESS CASES, HIDES ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The editor of the Financial Times of London, and four of the Japanese-owned newspaper’s employees have been caught out fabricating a new story about a Russian-made and Russian- named nerve agent allegedly used to attack Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Dawn Sturgess and Charles Rowley in England two years ago.

In a report published on July 9, the newspaper claims it has “reviewed” four classified reports from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which were obtained from an Austrian fraudster named Jan Marsalek.  His source for the documents, the newspaper suggests, was a Russian intelligence agency. Austrian press investigations say Marsalek’s source was the Austrian government.

The names of the fakers are Roula Khalaf, the Financial Times editor; Paul Murphy, investigations editor; Dan McCrum, a reporter; Helen Warrell, NATO correspondent; and Max Seddon of the Moscow bureau.  

They claim that Marsalek “touted secret documents about the use of a Russian chemical weapon in the UK, as he bragged of ties to intelligence services to ingratiate himself with London traders. …Documents shown to traders in 2018 and reviewed by the FT included the precise chemical compound for novichok, used in the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in the UK in March of that year.” They cited a British Army chemical warfare commander as source for claiming the documents had not “come from OPCW member states in western Europe or the US”. They implied Marsalek got them from “Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit”. In a related publication the next day,  the reporters identified “Mr Marsalek’s association with individuals or networks linked to Russia’s military intelligence directorate, the GRU.”

Asked to substantiate the OPCW documents they are holding, correct factual mistakes they  made from the papers themselves, and identify their evidence of Marsalek’s alleged GRU connection, Khalaf and the reporters refuse to answer.  

(more…)

RUTTE’S RUT — DUTCH PRIME MINISTER LOSES CONFIDENCE IN MH17 TRIAL, FILES CLAIM TO EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DESPITE COURT DECISION DELAYING ALL UKRAINE-RUSSIA CASES

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (lead image) surprised his own country’s lawyers last week with the filing of a Dutch Government claim against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights for the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. “The Dutch government decided”, declared the official announcement,    “to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for its role in the downing of Flight MH17.”

“By submitting an inter-State application,” Rutte’s statement explained, “the government is sharing all available and relevant information about the downing of Flight MH17 with the ECtHR. The contents of the inter-State application will also be incorporated into The Netherlands’ intervention in the individual applications submitted by the victims’ next of kin against Russia to the ECHR. By taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support to these individual cases.”

In fact, according to international lawyers, the Dutch move contributes nothing to the individual cases now pending from MH17 victims’ families because the court has suspended all of them since December 2018.

The lawyers also point out the contradiction between alleging in the criminal trial in The Hague District Court now under way  that the Russian government and military were not behind the actions of the four men accused of the shoot-down;  and Rutte’s allegation of Russian state guilt to the European court. “This isn’t just parallel litigation, which the ECHR has already refused to allow,” commented a London legal expert. “It’s a vote of no confidence in the Dutch prosecutors to secure convictions in the murder case they are trying to make.”

Rutte’s move has been dismissed in The Netherlands by Dutch lawyers, and also by victims’ families, as cynical electioneering. The prime minister, they believe, is attempting to hold on to power before the general election due next March despite having lost the majority of party votes in both houses of the Dutch parliament.

“For our prime minister Rutte,” commented Dutch lawyer Alfred Vierling, “this entire circus is the crucial test case for his higher political ambitions. He has promised to the victims’ families that the proverbial last stone will be turned over.  Maybe, but I expect that we shall all be crushed under a pile of lies first.”

“The new Dutch move,” responds Canadian war crimes specialist, attorney Christopher Black, “is an attempt to mask the fact that the trial before the Dutch courts is a biassed, one-sided affair, based on unsupported claims of the Kiev regime and the suppression of the evidence provided by Russia and eye-witnesses that support the case that the Kiev regime and its allies are responsible for the shoot-down. Instead of bringing justice to the victims, this is another attempt by NATO to deny them the real justice they are due.”

(more…)

NO ROOM AT THE BOOZER – NEW ST. PETERSBURG LAW BANS SOCIALISM, PROMOTES CAPITALISM IN RUSSIAN DRINKING

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

It’s an old tsarist ploy. When government officials grow fearful of public protests, attacks on the authorities, and rioting, they increase the volume of alcohol for sale but decrease the number of places where drinkers can gather in public.

Vodka is the opium of the people: this has been the Russian adaptation of Karl Marx’s observation about religion; that was in 1843, long before Marx got acquainted with how things worked in Russia. The way things now work, starting in St Petersburg this month, the opium of the people is banned by a new law from being sold in establishments of less than 50 square metres in floor space; the legal space is even smaller in other regions. This control measure may suit police and priests. But the real benefit will be earned by the large retailers of take-away alcohol, and the large bar and restaurant chains.  

“This law will have low influence on the amount of alcohol sales in St. Petersburg, because alcohol sold in bars is only 5% of the total sold,” observes Vadim Drobiz, director of the Centre for Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets (TsIFRRA). “But it will have a great influence on the culture of drinking. In Europe, the US and other Western countries, pubs and bars are usually places for meetings of friends, and the bar culture has a unique history. That’s why the [corona virus] pandemic is a big blow for them there. In Russia the number of pubs and bars is five times less than abroad. But instead of increasing the number of such places, St. Petersburg is now aiming to decrease it.  That’s some kind of retrogression.”

“The United Russia party in St. Petersburg insists on the new restrictions in order to increase  public order. But if people aren’t drinking in pubs, they will move to homes, yards, parks, so the situation with public order will become even worse. The police didn’t want to control the situation with pubs. Now they’ll have to control it in other places, and it will be more difficult.

Who will profit?  “Large business,” responds Drobiz, “especially the retailers who focus on alcohol, and the big bars. St. Petersburg won’t lose much in tax income, because the consumers will shift to other sources of alcohol, but lots of small and medium businesses will be closed.”

Kirill Maistrov, who owns and runs the Docker Pub in St. Petersburg, says: “Everyone is trying to make money out of the pandemic before the controls are lifted. This is nothing more than a market-share grab by the big retailers.”   

(more…)

THE REPUTATION OF MIKHAIL FRIDMAN AND PYOTR AVEN IS WORTH £18,000 EACH, BUT IT COST SIXTEEN TIMES THAT MUCH TO DEFEND — ENOUGH TO BANKRUPT CHRISTOPHER STEELE

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

It was the 412th of Francois de la Rochefoucauld’s maxims that doesn’t stand the test of either time or money. “Whatever degree of disgrace we may have brought upon ourselves,” he said, “it is always within our power to re-establish our reputation.”

For years Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, the controllers of Alfa Bank of Moscow and  LetterOne Holding in London, have been trying but not succeeding. This week they scored a success, but not quite of the kind they, or La Rochefoucauld, meant.

High Court judge Sir Mark Warby ruled that claims made about their corrupt closeness to President Vladimir Putin, prepared by Christopher Steele for use by the Democratic National Committee against the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, had been “hearsay, some of it opinion, and much of it based on unverifiable information from unidentified sources”; “data [which] are inaccurate or misleading as a matter of fact”. When fabricating his claims Steele  “evidently did not ask for any details of the hearsay information”. Later, when under cross-examination in court, Steele admitted that “a key element of [his] allegation was contradicted by information readily available on the internet.”

Most of Steele’s shoddy fabrications were acceptable in British law. This, Justice Warby ruled, was because they were provided through the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) to an unnamed “senior UK government national security official”, and to the FBI for “the purpose of safeguarding national security”; and because the “US and UK are the world’s leading English-speaking democracies, with a wealth of closely integrated interests… co-operation between the US and UK on matters of security is a vital part of our nation’s security arrangements.”

Complaining that Steele had changed his story from his initial witness statement to his second witness statement, and then in the witness box, Warby concluded that he preferred Fridman for truthfulness. “There is nothing that casts doubt on Mr Fridman’s evidence on this issue.” That  was the allegation the Alfa group had traded favours with President Putin, and that they had bribed him with “large amounts of illicit cash…in the 1990s when he was Deputy Mayor of St Petersburg.” This, the judge ruled, was not only a fabrication but was also unlawful.

In compensation, Warby awarded £18,000 each to Fridman and Aven, for a total of £36,000.

“I accept,” the judge qualified his award, “that the claimants have suffered distress as a result of the disclosures complained of, though the majority of the distress they have been caused will inevitably have flowed from media publications for which Orbis is not responsible in law: the Buzzfeed Article and others. My assessment is that each of the claimants is a robust character, not given to undue self-pity. Mr Tomlinson [barrister for Fridman and Aven] was right to ask for only ‘modest’ damages for distress.”

Modest for Fridman; ruinous for Steele. High Court experts estimate the combination of fees and costs for the barristers and solicitors required for the court claim by the Alfa group would have come to between £500,000 and £600,000; that’s roughly sixteen times the compensation awarded. The penalty is concomitantly higher for Steele and his Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., the firm he has run since his official espionage employment ended at MI6. According to the company’s last financial account, there isn’t enough money to pay the legal bills. Steele’s business is bust.  

(more…)

NO SECOND-WAVE PANDEMIC IN RUSSIA — PAVEL VOLCHKOV, RUSSIAN LEADER IN GENOMIC ENGINEERING (HE REJECTED HARVARD FOR MOSCOW) EXPLAINS WHY

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Pavel Volchkov is an exceptional voice among the Russian scientists now dealing with the corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The current Covid-19 policy administrators in Moscow are of the same academic generation but they have trained as doctors;  Volchkov is a geneticist. They have spent their formative careers inside Russian institutions;  Volchkov spent more than ten years in the US, at the University of Chicago then at Harvard.  

He has not suffered from the inferiority complex which has been the precondition for success in the US careers of Konstantin (Keith) Gessen and other Russian graduates from Harvard.   Volchkov’s analysis of the US science market and his reasons for returning to  his Russian laboratory are described here.

“There’s always someone in America,” Volchkov says, “who can find better funding than you. There’s always someone better than you. And Russia is only at the stage of the emergence of something more or less wealthy and constructive than the use and trade of natural resources. Even the janitor has already realized, and not just the economists in the government, that it is time to create high-tech companies that can make a product that is not related to natural resources. This was also one of the drivers of my move [back to Russia]. I saw that the situation with science has improved slightly. Of course, when I returned to Russia, everything was different. But ten years in America hardens you. These are difficult years. You break yourself, rebuild yourself, become flexible, purposeful. If you don’t, you are lost. If I hadn’t gone there, I wouldn’t have become what I am now.”

No repatriating Russian is as clear-eyed on what has been left behind in the US – and what lies ahead for Russia.

(more…)

THE DUTCH WRITING ON THE UKRAINIAN WALL – STEENHUIS RULING IN MH17 TRIAL PREJUDGES VERDICT

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The ruling issued on July 3 by Dutch district court judge Hendrik Steenhuis (lead image, right) requires the Russian defendant, Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Pulatov (centre), to prove his innocence with evidence prepared by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). By the standard announced a month earlier by the Russian Foreign Ministry, this is a fundamental violation of Pulatov’s legal rights, making a guilty verdict inevitable.   

Russian and international lawyers believe the defence lawyers should walk out. “In the conditions which the Dutch court has set,” comments Canadian Christopher Black, a veteran litigator in international war crimes trials, “this is now nothing more than the Ukrainian civil war fought by the Kiev regime with lawyers instead of soldiers. It’s a show trial. Nothing more than propaganda. No legal right for the accused is served by having his lawyers present. Since the defendants have refused to appear in person – three of them disputing the Dutch jurisdiction — the defence lawyers should withdraw.”

(more…)

MH17 TRIAL HITS UKRAINIAN WALL – JUDGE STEENHUIS REJECTS MAJOR-GENERAL KONASHENKOV FOR EVIDENCE OF THE UKRAINIAN ARMY’S BUK MISSILE WHICH SHOT DOWN MH17

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The presiding judge in the trial of the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 announced on Friday afternoon that he will not allow the evidence of Major-General Igor Konashenkov and other Russian Defence Ministry officers on the Ukrainian Army’s possession of the BUK missile alleged to be the weapon which shot down the aircraft, killing all 298 people on board.

Judge Hendrik Steenhuis declared that the Russian evidence revealed so far of the parts of the missile is limited to the manufacture of the weapon in Russia in 1986, and delivery of the weapon to a Ukrainian Army unit between December 1986 and early 1987. Steenhuis refused to allow  Russian military intelligence to reveal where the missile was located between 1987 and July 17, 2014, when the Dutch prosecution claims the missile was fired by a Russian military crew at MH17.

“The defence wishes to interview these witnesses in order to establish the evidential value and credibility of the parts of the missile administration supplied by Russia,” Steenhuis announced. He refused to identify Russian Army generals Igor Konashenkov, the Defence Ministry spokesman,  and Nikolai Parshin, head of the Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Directorate, whose detailed briefing on the missile parts, their origin,  and their deployment in the Ukrainian Army was broadcast from the Defence Ministry in Moscow on September 18, 2018. “The court finds that the relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987. In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Gen. Konashenkov]  can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located in the year 2014. For that reason alone the court is of the opinion that interviewing this witness cannot be of importance for any decision to be taken in the criminal case of the accused. The request is therefore rejected.”

Steenhuis repeated to the letter the prosecution’s argument,  presented in court on June 23,    that the Russian evidence should not be allowed in the trial. The judge has opted to accept the Ukrainian Government’s claim that the missile was not in the Ukrainian Army’s inventory in 2014.

Steenhuis did not explain why he accepts the Ukrainian Army version; rejects all Russian Army evidence in advance of its presentation to the court; and will allow no further evidence or witnesses to explain how, according to the Dutch prosecution story,  the Ukrainian Army missile found its way from a Ukrainian Army base to a Russian Army base, before being sent back across the border into Ukraine to attack MH17.

(more…)

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.  

(more…)

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.  

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.  

(more…)

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.  

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

(more…)
Categories
Archives

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Education Template