THE “RULES-BASED ORDER” FOR SOLDIERS WHO KILL CIVILIANS – THE US RULE FOR JAPANESE; THE AUSTRALIAN RULE FOR AFGHANS; THE DUTCH RULE FOR RUSSIANS

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

It requires unusual degrees of self-confidence, political power, and lawlessness for the generals commanding the winning side in war to hold themselves innocent of the killing which the troops under their command committed against the losing side or suspected sympathisers.   

In Washington, in February of 1946, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Frank Murphy warned that if the law of war requires the most senior commander of soldiers running amok with blood lust to be responsible with his own life for what his men have done – even if the commander didn’t know and had no effective means of controlling the troops – the precedent might one day reach to the US commander-in-chief, the President.  “No one in a position of command in an army, from sergeant to general,” said Murphy, “can escape those implications. Indeed, the fate of some future President of the United States and his chiefs of staff and military advisers may well have been sealed by this decision.”

That decision has come to be known as the Yamashita Standard after Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita (lead image, top, 1st left).  But when Australian soldiers killed more than 39 Afghan civilians between 2007 and 2016,  in a judgement publicly released a few days ago, their commanders – Generals Angus Campbell (2nd left), Paul Kenny (3rd left), Adam Findlay (4th left), and Richard Burr (right) — have been cleared of command duty and personal responsibility.

They have been judged by the Army, the Government in Canberra, and the entire Australian press to be innocent. From their time as special forces’ commanders in Afghanistan, they have been promoted to general rank; appointed to advise the prime minister and his ministers on fresh battlefield operations, including the plan to invade  eastern Ukraine after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.

That was a crime, the guilt for which the Dutch Government aims to convict the Russian chain of command all the way to the President. The Dutch government says it is applying its version of the Yamashita Standard, with evidence of chain of command communications fabricated by the Ukrainian secret service, the SBU; by a NATO propaganda unit; and by a cartoon of Moscow’s command responsibility presented to the press  by a Dutch policeman named Wilbert Paulissen (lead image, bottom ).

The American, Australian and Dutch commands have not yet won their war against Russia, so the MH17 war crime trial is premature. It is also contradicted by their own policy for the Afghan war. “Such circumstances,” declared the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman last Friday, “cast doubt on the genuine willingness of the Australian authorities to bring to justice all military personnel responsible for crimes, as well as on the seriousness of the stated intentions of the armed forces command to reform army special forces units. The massive, systemic and grave crimes committed over the years by fighters of Australian elite units against the inhabitants of Afghanistan make a new assessment of the meaning of the relentlessly proclaimed commitment of official Canberra to a ‘rules-based world order.’ What are these rules?”

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THE SHORT-HAIRED RUSSIAN TABBY NAMED КРЫСА

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Grief for his loss has prevented me from writing about Krissy (Kris, Kriska, Krisichka, Kiryusha from КРЫСА meaning “rat”). He is the cat to whom I belonged who died at our home in Moscow nine years ago, on December 9, 2011.

The efforts of a Russian oligarch to kill me, and then, having failed at that, to expel me from Russia; and the equal exertion of Australian foreign ministry and aluminium business officials to cover up the crime, prevented me from being with Krissy when his heart stopped beating. For several hours in advance, perhaps for a day, he knew death was coming; he was seventeen cat-years old – 84 in human years. He also knew that my kind of practical optimism to save his life would be fruitless this time. He had survived so much already. He, his mistress and I had often considered the risks of exposing oneself to bad Russians and bad Australians. One of his lives had been saved, he knew, by a South African, a very good one.

John Gray, a British philosophical writer who loves cats, tries to explain these things from their  point of view in a new book, which  until Gray came on to a section about Spinoza was encouraging,  Between Spinoza’s birthday in Amsterdam on November 24 – he would have been 388 last week – and Krissy’s dying day, there are a few things which deserve to be remembered. Russian things.

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JUDGE HENDRIK STEENHUIS CLOSES TRAP IN MH17 TRIAL — RULES DUTCH DEFENCE LAWYERS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PROCEED IN CONVICTING THEIR OWN CLIENT

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In the November 25 session of the MH17 trial at Schiphol – the final one for this year —  presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis  ruled to accept only those investigations requested by the defence lawyers which are certain to incriminate Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Pulatov. Pulatov is the only one of the four accused to present a defence to the Dutch indictment for destruction of the aircraft and the murder of all 298 passengers and crew on board. 

Accepting the state prosecution’s advice to reject the defence lawyers’ attempts to probe evidence for alternative scenarios of the shooting-down of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft on July 17, 2014, Steenhuis said: “if the main scenario cannot be proved” – the prosecution’s case that the Russian military command sent a BUK missile into eastern Ukraine where the four accused fired it – “then that leads automatically to the verdict of not guilty”.

Steenhuis announced he is ready to accept all the self-incrimination Pulatov’s lawyers have already presented from their client. But he insisted that if Pulatov wishes to testify to the court, that must be done in a live interrogation by the court and cross-examination by prosecutors – a condition Steenhuis has disallowed for any other witness in the case.

Steenhuis also ruled to accept the defence lawyers’ request to interview the commander of the Russian Army’s 53rd  Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade on the same terms. Steenhuis has previously refused to allow any evidence or testimony from Russian Army Major General Igor Konashenkov on Ukrainian deployment of BUK missiles, including the one identified by prosecutors as having caused the destruction of the aircraft. The evidence against the 53rd Brigade was fabricated by a NATO propaganda unit; until now it would not have been admissible in the court trial if the defence lawyers had not applied to interview the brigade commander, Colonel Sergei Muchkayev.   

Steenhuis also expressed his appreciation for the videotaped interviews the defence lawyers have presented in court with Pulatov, together with a recent film of remarks by Colonel Sergei Dubinsky, the second of the four accused.  These films will now be used, Steenhuis ruled, by Dutch government experts and the investigating judge to match Pulatov’s and Dubinsky’s voices with telephone taps prepared by the Ukrainian security service, the SBU. The experts and the investigating judge will remain anonymous, and will not testify directly in court.

In concluding the preliminaries before the trial of Pulatov, Dubinsky, Igor Girkin (Strelkov), and Leonid Kharchenko commences next February 1, Steenhuis’s new ruling anticipates that if the Russian Government decides to dismiss the Dutch defence for incompetence and abandon the show trial, it will appear more guilty than if the Dutch defence had never begun.

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“HELLO BILL, THANK YOU BILL, GOODBYE BILL” – 20 YEARS OF TALKING WITH US PRESIDENTS HAVE BEEN A WASTE OF RUSSIAN BREATH

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Vladimir Putin liked to call the White House officials he met in mid-1999 by their first names,  except for Strobe Talbott of the State Department whom he called Mister Talbott.  

That was when Putin was Secretary of the Security Council, and his direct US counterpart was the White House National Security Advisor, Samuel (Sandy) Berger. In August of that year Putin was promoted to Prime Minister, and he began to take calls from President Bill Clinton. Putin began calling him Bill at their first face-to-face meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, on September 12, 1999, It was there Putin confided that President Boris Yeltsin did things that were “simply mistakes”.

Clinton avoided calling Putin Vladimir when they spoke by telephone on January 1, 2000, after   Putin had replaced Yeltsin the night before as acting President. “Hello Vladimir”, Clinton addressed him for the first time by telephone on March 27, 2001; Putin’s election the day before had been confirmed.

The newly released Clinton-Putin records reveal a string of Putin concessions to ingratiate Clinton which went unreciprocated by the time Clinton left office in January 2001. The Clinton archive also exposes that Clinton patronised Putin, demanded, threatened, extorted, and lied his head off.

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DO YOU BELIEVE THE CARROT OR THE RABBIT? SULEIMAN KERIMOV TRIES TO SELL SHARES IN THE WORLD’S LARGEST UNMINED GOLDMINE, RUSSIA’S SUKHOI LOG

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

All that glisters isn’t gold. But as all Russian goldminers know, when it comes to the reputation of the mining company, its chief executive,  and its share price, glister will do just as well. That has been the view of Suleiman Kerimov (lead image, right) whose Polyus is Russia’s most important goldmining company.  

Glister has been Kerimov’s lucky colour; his longtime chief executive Pavel Grachev (left), the same. Through one of his children, Kerimov owns and controls Polyus.  Grachev does everything Kerimov senior has been telling him to do since 1998, twenty-two years ago.  Last month Kerimov senior told Kerimov junior to tell Grachev to start advertising Sukhoi Log (Russian for “Dry Gulch”), an underground store of gold in southeastern Siberia whose ownership has been fiercely fought over by international and Russian mining companies since 1992.

Unmined still, but firmly in Papa Kerimov’s possession, Sukhoi Log’s prospective value has more than doubled Polyus’s share price this year – and double the share price gain of Newmont of the US; triple that of Barrick of Canada, the international leaders of the gold world.  

But that’s on the Moscow stock market this year. Kerimov and Grachev are hoping Sukhoi Log will now draw US sharebuyers with an acceleration in annual gold production and  future, life of mine output which is also much faster than Newmont and Barrick.

Kerimov’s glister has always been mistaken for gold at the Financial Times,  so Grachev started his campaign there on October 22.   He then gave an expansive interview in Kommersant last Tuesday.

When we last reported on Grachev,  it was only to spell his name in the caption under an official photograph of the board of directors of Polyus Gold,  when it passed out of one pair of oligarch hands, Mikhail Prokhorov’s, into Kerimov’s. That was in 2014.  By then the market capitalisation was $9.5 billion,  down from its peak of $13 billion in December 2010. Renamed Polyus instead of Polyus Gold in 2016, this week the company is worth the rouble equivalent of $29 billion. Its share price on the Moscow Stock Exchange (MOEX, formerly MICEX) has jumped by 124% in the year to date.

The value of this goldminer has not always reflected the price of gold or the value of the gold reserves Polyus owns, mines, or is planning to mine. The company has often been calculated to be worth what the market thinks of Kerimov, Prokhorov, or before him another Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin. Grachev’s new job this week, as it has always been his job, is to rub the oligarch glister off the company, and turn its share price into true gold. As if Kerimov wasn’t there.  

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IN THE BELLY OF THE BOURGEOISIE – VKUSVILLE IS A UNIQUE RUSSIAN ACHIEVEMENT, PROFITABLE TOO

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Vkusville sounds half Russian, half French. Piquant, you might say – пикантный.

The name can be translated into English as Taste Town. But for the name of a new chain of food stores this sounds so hackneyed that in your average American or British town you would expect to find there all the sugarised, carbohydratised,  and preservatised foodstuffs in the brand-name packages you can find everywhere else in the civilised, genetomodified world. So if you have the money to indulge your appetite, you would leave the cliché store to the plebs to patronise. Not you, nor the bourgeoisie in general.

Moscow is quite different; but not because it doesn’t have an unequal distribution of income, a class of plebians below, a bourgeois class above, and a power elite above them, each with their distinguishing consumer and shopping ideology. That hierarchy of class taste has been the most enduring import from the US, and the most effective NATO strike across the Russian frontier, since Mikhail Gorbachev first invited it; Boris Yeltsin accelerated it; and Vladimir Putin – well, that’s another story.

Not because of him, however, but because of the economic and propaganda warfare waged against all Russians by the US, UK, German and French governments since 2014, Vkusville stands for the taste for Russian independence;  for the revival of national (Soviet) foods;  and for the rejection of everything the globalised food industry has been selling to Russia.  The outcome in Moscow – also growing in St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaluga, Bryansk, Tula and Voronezh — is the chain of specialty food shops calling themselves Vkusville.  Since 2012, they have multiplied in just eight years to more than one thousand two hundred, with a revenue in 2019 of  Rb82.5 billion ($1.3 billion). That’s an annual growth rate of 51%. Profit for last year came to Rb3 billion ($47 million) – that was an increase over 2018 of 163%.  

A year ago, Vkusville advertised these numbers to New York investment banks in the hope of selling part of the Russian shareholder’s stake in the business to the Nasdaq stock market – for a healthy number of dollars.

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DEFENCE TURNS THE MH17 SHOW TRIAL INTO A CIRCUS

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Dutch and Russian state officials combined last week to turn the trial of the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 into a farce.

Two Rotterdam police defenders, Sabine ten Doesschate and Boudewijn van Eijck, engaged by a Russian foundation to represent Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Pulatov, one of the four accused,  pretended to investigate evidence the prosecutors have rejected, and the presiding judge, Hendrik Steenhuis, together with an investigating magistrate whose name is kept secret, have already dismissed.  

Pulatov and Colonel Sergei Dubinsky, the second of the four accused by the Dutch of murder in the shooting-down of the aircraft and deaths of 298 people on board on July 17, 2014, pretended to be naïve in asking to be believed; provided videotapes of themselves offering to prove their innocence; and inviting the prosecution and Steenhuis to dismiss their truthfulness.  The prosecutors will make their presentation this week. The judge has announced he will rule on the defence requests on November 25.

The Dutch prosecution service pretended to report the three days of proceedings with the summary:  “the defence is of the opinion that additional investigation is required to find out more about the reliability and value of the evidence put forward by the PPS [Public Prosecution Service] and about evidence that was not put forward by the PPS but could nevertheless be important”.

The trial is broadcast live in Dutch with simultaneous translation into English. Spokesmen for the prosecution press service said they have no idea how the English voiceover record of each day’s hearing could be purchased, or if it was available at all.

The Russian state media organisation RT pretended to have had “technical capacity” difficulty reproducing the first day’s hearing in the YouTube format it has been broadcasting on the internet since the trial began on March 9. RT management then admitted they have ceased providing this archive record unless a one-time or subscription payment is made. “Ruptly is a B2B agency providing services and materials to the international media across the globe”, said the Moscow manager for RT’s Ruptly subsidiary. “The material in question with translation in English is available for Ruptly subscribers.”

No mainstream western media have paid. They also refused to report the defence presentations as news.

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DEMJIN DOROSCHENKO REPLIES TO DUTCH, AUSTRALIAN POLICE LIES ON MH17 – “I WILL WRITE THE TRUTH NO ONE HAS SEEN YET”

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Demjin Doroshenko, a Ukrainian-Australian who says he was employed by the Ukrainian security service SBU at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to report what the SBU intended in the western media, has replied to last week’s reports about his role.

Responding to publication of a classified interview record with Doroschenko conducted by the Australian Federal Police, and sent to the Dutch prosecutors in The Hague, Doroschenko now says he was defamed. Calling the Australian and Dutch police “criminals”, he says he “will write the truth that no one has seen yet.”

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RUSSIA CAN, THE UNITED STATES CAN’T CUT THE ICE

By Alexei Anpilogov, Moscow*
  @bears_with

A unique icebreaker will create a new geopolitical reality for Russia.
Russia has large-scale plans in the Arctic – and the world’s most powerful nuclear icebreakers will ensure Russia’s presence in this crucial region. Three icebreakers of the LK-120YA Leader project will be built according to the strategy for the development of the Arctic zone until 2035 approved by the President of the Russian Federation. What is unique about this ship and what tasks will it solve?

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ALEXEI KUDRIN REVIVES AMBITION TO RULE RUSSIA – THE OLIGARCHS’ FRIEND TRIES FRESH COMEBACK PLOY – TRUST HIM TO SAVE RUSSIA FROM ECONOMY SHOCK!

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Alexei Kudrin (lead image) , officially Russia’s state auditor, is the irrepressible successor to President Vladimir Putin upon whom the oligarchs, the western secret services and the London and New York financial press agree.

Their dream team for regime change comprises Alexei Navalny as president; Kudrin as either Vice President or Prime Minister. According to the latest nationwide poll of political trust, Navalny is the trusted choice of between 2% and 4%, no better than he was polling three years ago. Last month, however, Kudrin, had  fallen off the trust list altogether. A year ago, he managed to make it on to the distrust list, running just behind Navalny between 2% and 3%.   

It’s his insignificance that Kudrin has determined to do something about. So last week he issued a three-year macro-economic strategy for the country. As the Moscow financial press noticed, this is the first time the Accounting Chamber exceeded its official mandate, challenging both the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank.

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AFTERSHOCK OF NORD STREAM EXPLOSIONS RUMBLES WARSAW — POLISH POLITICIANS GO “NUTTERS”

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.

It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.

Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.

Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points,   want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert  the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.

“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification,  his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”

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THE BORNHOLM BLOW-UP REPEATS THE BORNHOLM BASH — POLAND ATTACKS GERMANY AND BLAMES RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island,  was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.

It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.

Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline  opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”.   The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.

But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.  

Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits,  LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”

Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”.  “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added,   diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February.  Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace  Morawiecki next year.  

The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45;  and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption,  and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .

“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June,  “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”

“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”

The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.

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LEMONS, MIMOSAS, AND STALIN’S SHOVEL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.   

Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha  by the Black Sea in Abkhazia.  Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.

Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred  kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel.  As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him.  “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”

In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.

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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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