FIRST DAY SHOCK AT THE HER MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT INQUEST – BELLINGCAT TO BE CALLED TO TESTIFY, BUT NOT SERGEI OR YULIA SKRIPAL

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The first session of the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, held in London on Tuesday, was almost entirely predictable.

The counsel for the coroner,  like the lawyers for the Sturgess family and for the Home Office, repeated without qualification the allegation that a Novichok poison weapon they say was produced in Russia and taken to the UK by Russian assassins, caused the unplanned  death of Sturgess. This followed twelve weeks after an attempt at assassinating Sergei Skripal with the same weapon on March 4, 2018. Sturgess was the unintended victim of leftover poison, they say.

In short, this is an inquiry into evidence everyone in court already agrees can mean only one thing, beyond reasonable doubt — the Russians did it. A court proceeding to demonstrate what has already been announced; aka a show trial.

There were  two surprises, though. These appear to have been as unintended by Her Majesty’s Government as Sturgess’s Novichok death.

The first was the disclosure by the inquest counsel from the pathologists’ post-mortem report on Sturgess, after her death was recorded at Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018. The cause of her death, according to these medical findings, was “Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity”.  This is the first time the post-mortem results and the names of the two doctors who reached them have been disclosed publicly. The Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley, who conducted the case for almost three years, kept this secret.

The disclosure means that Sturgess died first of a heart attack, loss of oxygen to brain, and bleeding in brain, possibly at the apartment of her partner in Amesbury before ambulance men arrived, or on her way to hospital. “She was pronounced dead in hospital,” the lawyer added. Only later was “Novichok toxicity” discovered. But when?

For the first time, it is revealed that the post-mortem examination was done on July 17; the post-mortem report did not follow until November 29. The gaps in time, and also in biochemical and forensic meaning between “1a, cardiac arrest” and “1b, Novichok toxicity”, are so large, it is shocking that the presiding coroner, Lady Heather Hallett, indicated no plan to call the pathologists to testify under cross-examination.

The second surprise is not less of a shock.  It appears in the list of witnesses. “Our current intention,” the counsel to the inquest announced, “is to make disclosure requests to the following individuals and organisations following the PIR [pre-inquest review]”. Eighteen names of witnesses follow whose testimony is planned. They start with Sturgess’s family and her companion, Charles Rowley, allegedly a survivor of the same poisoning which killed her. The local and London police follow on the list; then ambulance crews; hospital staff; the secret intelligence agencies; the Cabinet Office in London; and finally, at No. 18, “Bellingcat”. This is the well-known NATO-funded evidence fabricator and cyber warfare unit.

The Hallett inquest will call Bellingcat to testify. Missing from the list, excluded from testifying in court, are two names – Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Neither the coroner nor the lawyers in court explained this omission. The reporters attending the hearing for the BBC, Guardian,  and Salisbury Journal failed to notice.

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BERNADETTE CAFFAREY WAS THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S PRESS OFFICER DURING THE COVER-UP OF THE DAVID KELLY CASE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Bernadette Caffarey (lead image, 2nd from left) is the go-to person when high British government officials need a spokesman after a suspicious death has occurred in the vicinity of the secret services; and when withholding of evidence from a coroner or criminal court judge requires discretion, sensitivity, trust. That’s trust on the part of officials that she won’t spill state secrets to the press; and trust of the press that she isn’t lying.

Caffarey is the press spokesman for the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess which opens in London today, Lady Heather Hallett presiding. For details and analysis of what is at stake, click to read yesterday’s story.

So discreet is Caffarey that she has omitted in her public career resume the years she spent as a press officer at the Attorney-General’s Office (AGO), and as press officer for Dominic Grieve, Attorney-General from 2010 to 2014, when he was deciding not to allow reopening of the inquest into the death of Dr David Kelly who died, officially of suicide, on July 17, 2003. Kelly was a chemical and biological warfare expert from Porton Down and the Ministry of Defence, who worked as a British inspector in Russia in the 1990s, and later for the United Nations in Iraq in the runup to the Anglo-American invasion of 2003. For Kelly’s story and the evidence of his death, read this.

Caffarey was asked this morning to say when she had served as spokesman for the Attorney-General, and what reason she had for leaving an eight-year blank in her career resume, between 2007-2015. She responded that she began at the AGO in April 2009 and served as a press officer there until November 2015. The omission of those years from her Linkedin profile was inadvertent, she said.   

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THIRD MEMBER OF THE NOVICHOK INQUEST RIGGING TEAM APPOINTED FROM UK HOME OFFICE, BBC

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

For more than three centuries the judges of the United Kingdom’s courts have struggled to preserve their independence from the monarch and the government, and thus their power to rule on the truth before them, not the lies presented by the ruling powers.  

When giving public lectures, optimistic, pensioned, and Scottish judges speak of “tensions with the executive [as] an inevitable part of the relationship with the executive”. Some of them claim that since 2003 the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice are constitutionally powerful enough on their own to protect the independence of the judges working below them.  

In the case of who attacked Sergei Skripal in the middle of England on March 4, 2018, they aren’t and they haven’t. The evidence of this will be on display in the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday.

That is when a retired judge and commercial consultant named Baroness Hallett (lead image) will convene the first hearing of a new inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess. Sturgess died on July 8, 2018, allegedly after ingesting a lethal dose of the nerve agent Novichok from a false perfume bottle her partner had presented to her after finding it in circumstances he has yet to explain with certainty.  

The British Government alleges that two Russian government agents were responsible for the attack on Skripal; they “are now also the prime suspects in the case of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley too. There is no other line of inquiry beyond this. And the police have today formally linked the attack on the Skripals and the events in Amesbury – such that it now forms one investigation… Our own analysis, together with yesterday’s report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has confirmed that the exact same chemical nerve agent was used in both cases. There is no evidence to suggest that Dawn and Charlie may have been deliberately targeted, but rather were victims of the reckless disposal of this agent.” That was then-Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech to the House of Commons on September 5, 2018.

Eighteen months later, police and prosecutors have issued no formal indictment for Sturgess’s death. The coroner’s court inquest into the cause of her death has been repeatedly postponed; it begins again on March 30.  Hallett has replaced David Ridley, the county coroner in charge of the inquest until now, for reasons which were decided by government officials in secret.  Until the secret becomes public knowledge, the independence of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice is in doubt. Hallett knows the secret; the way she conducts the inquest will reveal it.    

In the Sturgess case Hallett has appointed Martin Smith as her chief assistant, the official solicitor to the inquest.  When they wish to speak to the public and press, they have appointed Bernadette Caffarey. She says Hallett “does require some help in contacting the press to alert them of the upcoming hearing… A coroner can choose to seek assistance from anyone they feel has the right expertise to assist them.”

Smith has been employed by Hallett in a major political inquest before. Caffarey currently works for Smith; she is paid her salary by the Home Office. In her last two jobs she was paid by the Home Office, the government ministry overseeing the judiciary and police, and by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). She is a state mouthpiece.

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ALEXI NAVALNY’S WIFE IS IN GERMANY DISCUSSING A GERMAN GOVERNMENT OFFER TO THE KREMLIN FOR A KHODORKOVSKY-TYPE RELEASE INTO PERMANENT ASYLUM

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In a series of moves coordinated with German and other NATO government officials, Alexei Navalny has released a fabricated internet message while his wife Yulia Navalnaya is in Germany to seek German, British and US Government aid for Navalny’s release from prison on terms that will end his political ambitions in Russia.

The details, confirmed by more than a dozen people familiar with the matter,   have surfaced just four weeks  after Navalny was sent to IK-2 Pokrov, a special-measures prison near Yaroslavl.  

In a March 26  Instagram posting made to appear as if Navalny himself had prepared it in jail,  two pictures reveal a foreign service fabrication with a coded message for the Kremlin. Navalny, the code reveals, is willing to accept terms for his release similar to those accepted by Mikhail Khodorkovsky in December 2013.   In return for a letter to President Vladimir Putin admitting his guilt on the offences charged, the proposal is for him to be released to Germany where Navalny would be granted permanent asylum, never to return to Russia.

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DONBASS – WHERE THE NEGOTIATIONS END AND WAR STARTS

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The Kiev regime of Volodymyr Zelensky is now in the same strategically vulnerable position as Petro Poroshenko’s regime was after the presidential election of May 2014.

Both were facing domestic alienation and armed opposition, which for different reasons in the east of the country and the west, were impossible for the presidents to overcome, compose,  or coordinate.  Both have calculated they should provoke a military confrontation in the Donbass in order to draw the US Government and the NATO allies into rushing a combination of fresh money into Kiev and arms on to the line of contact in the east.

The shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, was a provocation planned to draw direct NATO military intervention on the ground; recovery of the MH17 victims’ bodies and aircraft black boxes was the cover story and camouflage.  But the scheme – devised by the US and Ukrainian secret services, adopted by Poroshenko, promoted by the Dutch, and manned by the Australians – failed; read the book explaining how.

The present situation in the Donbass is understood by the Russian General Staff, the Foreign Ministry, the intelligence agencies, and the Kremlin to be at this point of ignition. They also understand what has changed since mid-2014. The political capacity of the Germans to resist US folly has been eroded by the Navalny Novichok operation since last August,  and by party battles to replace Angela Merkel and her government at the September 26 election; so Germany is much weaker than it was seven years ago. The Dutch, having just re-elected Mark Rutte and continuing the MH17 show trial, are exactly where they were then. Everyone else in Europe, including the British, are more uncertain and unconfident than they were. Joseph Biden was Kiev’s principal ally in Washington then; now he’s mentally less capable of calculation or control.

An unusually detailed presentation of the Russian positions, as well as the Russian interpretation of the positions of the other sides in the conflict, was published this week in Kommersant. Reporter Vladimir Soloviev has transcribed what his source, the chief Russian negotiator Dmitry Kozak (lead image, right), deputy chief of the presidential administration, has provided verbally and in documents.

The current map of the war zone (lead image, left) can be expanded for view here.  A semi-official Russian military situation report can be read here.  

This is the Russian text of Kozak’s briefing.  Here is my translation, unabridged and unedited.

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SAFE PAIR OF HANDS FOR BRITISH NOVICHOK CASE – DAWN STURGESS TO GET A NEW CORONER, NEW INQUEST

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The British government has selected a new team trusted with state secrets to run the inquest into the alleged Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess three years ago.  The appointments of former Court of Appeals judge, Lady Heather Hallett,  and Martin Smith as legal advisor will commence at a court hearing in London on March 30.

Hallett and Smith replace the Wiltshire country coroner David Ridley and his police advisor in the ongoing investigation of what caused Sturgess’s death.  

Hallett has been a specialist judge for  sensitive military, intelligence, and police problems under the direction of the Cabinet Office for many years. The Cabinet Office coordinated all security and police operations before, during, and after the alleged Novichok attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.

Smith was involved in the state investigation of the alleged Russian assassination by polonium  poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko on November 1, 2006.  Titled “Solicitor to the Inquiry”, he was acknowledged in the January 2016 report by the chief investigator, Sir Robert Owen.  

The move by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to raise the level of the investigation is likely to secure the Home Office and the security agencies from disclosure of evidence casting doubt on the official story that a Russian assassination squad, on mission to kill Skripal, left behind a bottle of Novichok which ended up in the apartment of Sturgess and her companion, Charles Rowley; they were poisoned at their Amesbury home on June 30, 2018; Sturgess died in nearby Salisbury Hospital on July 8.

London experts on inquests and coronial law say it is not uncommon for “complex and controversial cases” to be moved from local coroners to judges in London. The London lawyers will not comment, however, on the recent record of state security service for Hallett and Smith.

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REUTER’S RUSSIA LIES PUT TO TRUTH TEST IN UK HIGH COURT — RUPERT MURDOCH, SERGEI PUGACHEV & CATHERINE BELTON CHARGED BY ROMAN ABRAMOVICH

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

For the first time, the US-based international media agency Reuters is being sued for lying about Russia in the British High Court. The three defendants in the dock are Catherine Belton (lead image, right); her source, runaway bank robber Sergei Pugachev; and Rupert Murdoch’s publishing house, HarperCollins.

Roman Abramovich (left) has launched the case almost a year after Belton, Pugachev and Murdoch published a book entitled  “Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West”.  According to Abramovich, he  has initiated the lawsuit in defence of his personal reputation and that of the Chelsea Football Club he owns. “It is my hope that today’s action will not only refute the false allegations in regard to my own name, but also serve as a reminder of Chelsea’s positive footprint in the UK.”

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“RUSSIA IS THE ENEMY” IS THE ADVERTISEMENT WHICH SAVES THE US AD INDUSTRY FROM COLLAPSE AND KEEPS US JOURNALISTS IN THEIR JOBS

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Barnacles are unambitious. Once they attach themselves to the keel they don’t think they can influence the direction or even the speed of the boat. They confine themselves to feeding and reproducing. Barnacles are good at that because their penises are closer to their mouths than is true of most journalists. In this respect, the arthropod is a dickhead.

Anglo-American reporters reporting on other journalists reporting on Russia lack the genital-in-mouth modesty of barnacles. But whether in the mainstream media or alternative media, they are stuck where they are and must feed on each other. Unlike barnacles, they think they control the battleship in its fight with Russia; this is how it pays for dickheads to think.

The advertising markets are ambitious, parasitic, and dickheaded in the same way. But it’s not the same way in the US as in Russia. The latest reports on advertising revenues in both markets reveal that if it hadn’t been for the US election campaigns in 2020, revenue spent trying to persuade the American people would have fallen by 17%; this counts only how-to-vote adspend, not how to think adspend. They are correlated because as traditional advertising revenues fall, so do jobs for journalists.

The other driver of US advertising revenue last year was the pandemic-related growth of Amazon belonging to Jeff Bezos; the more money he makes, the more losses he can afford on promoting war against Russia at the Washington Post. In general, Covid-19 helped increase mainstream newspaper readership — without adding to their revenues. But in the US market there is no reader revenue competition over war against Russia between the Washington Post and the New York Times, as the war against Spain once served the competition between William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s  New York World.  However, last year the combination of Covid-19 and war against Russia improved reader trust in the New York Times brand compared to the Bezos brand at the Post, which had been more trusted than the Times in 2019.  The Times also increased its lead in the size of its online readership  compared to the Post.    

In Russia, according to the report from the Association of Communications Agencies of Russia (AKAR) released last week,  the total spent on advertising in all media for 2020 came to Rb473 billion ($6.5 billion); that was 4% less than 2019. Traditional Russian journalism in newspapers suffered most – adspend in this market segment went down by 50%; radio advertising dropped by 30%; advertising on trains and buses, down by 38%; outdoor advertising, down by 27%. By contrast, advertising revenue spent on the internet grew by 4%; on videos, up by 5%.

By contrast also, the pressure on Russians from the Covid-19 restrictions triggered the biggest gain in advertising expenditure from the state savings bank Sberbank. Next in percentage gain in the Russian market came Leomax, a television retailer,  and Miratorg, a producer and distributor of meat products.  Political advertising was negligible in the Russian market; the next parliamentary election isn’t due until September 2021; the next presidential election until March 2024.

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NOT SHOCK & AWE, US WAR AGAINST RUSSIA IS WOOZLE & BAMBOOZLE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

How many times must we repeat: in this war which the US and NATO have started against Russia, force will decide the outcome, not words. So if President Joseph Biden (lead image, centre) and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) are afraid of running the risk of losing the former – watch the Donbass in the coming weeks — they will stick to wars of words; that’s propaganda, info-war, cyber-war.

In wars of words, truth isn’t the first casualty.  It’s the first weapon – that’s to say, our side’s truth is our weapon; the other side’s truth is a pack of lies (aka deception, disinformation, active measures, trolling). By the way, the US Constitution’s free speech amendment is a two-edged sword in this war-making.  Our side’s freedom to speak the truth or to tell lies is lawful; the other side’s freedom to speak their truth on our side of the front is an indictable crime, according to the Department of Justice. It’s foreign agent influence peddling,  election interference, sedition, or (if Julian Assange did it) espionage.

In propaganda warfare, one of the rules of combat as the Germans, British and Americans have all practiced it, is that repeating a lie often enough will conceal the truth. In British and American libel courts, truth isn’t a defence for publishing lies about public figures. It’s enough for the liar to demonstrate that the fabrications were already in circulation to legalise repeating them in media. Repeat our side’s lie often enough and this will erase the truth of the other side’s as if it had never existed. Novichok, for example, is a war-fighting word — NATO side claims it was a poison to kill Sergei Skripal three years ago; that was a lie. NATO side has repeated that it was a poison to kill Alexei Navalny eight months ago. It’s still a lie, but as a war-fighting word, it has managed to kill the truth on our side of the front. Almost.

In war-fighting with words like this, the big gun of the US and NATO alliance is the woozle. Novichok is a woozle.

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SOVCOMFLOT SURFS ON A WAVE OF CASH

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Sovcomflot, Russia’s dominant shipping company and (next to the Chinese) the world’s most valuable energy tanker fleet, announced yesterday that in 2020 its earnings had risen almost 10%, and its profit jumped by over 18%.

However, the stock market is decidedly unimpressed. On the Moscow Stock Exchange, where Sovcomflot shares have been listed since last October, the share price moved up by less than half of one percent on a tiny volume of transactions.   

At its new price of Rb91.12 ($1.24), the market is telling the shipping company it is worth 13% less than the company claimed six months ago, when it issued its share prospectus at Rb105.

Worse yet may materialise in April, when the lock-up period expires for the anchor shareholders; they committed themselves to buying at Rb105 on October 7 and to waiting six months before selling out. At least one of them won’t do that, though. That’s OOO SCF Arctic, a Sovcomflot subsidiary holding part of the tanker fleet. In order to support the planned privatisation of Sovcomflot shares at the target share price, SCF Arctic promised to buy a block of shares from the share-sale bankers if they didn’t want them; that cost the shipping company $47.2 million.

In other words, Sovcomflot was an anchor investor in itself. The state sovereign investor, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), was the biggest of the other anchors. With state support like this, Moscow market analysts say they aren’t surprised at the lack of commercial investor demand.  “The privatisation was a propaganda exercise”, comments a London shipping expert. “There is a problem in the reporting of Russian companies – the truthful part disguises lots of faking.”

The initial public offering (IPO) last October failed, says Pavel Gavrilov, a stock analyst with BCS Express in Moscow. “Technical difficulties, lack of information, the speculative component, and other factors” were to blame.

Yesterday, Sovcomflot’s chief executive Igor Tonkovidov said that “with swings in global oil demand causing extreme volatility across energy markets, SCF [Sovcomflot] Group has demonstrated resilience to such turbulence and has produced further increase in its key operational and financial metrics.”

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NOW AND THEN – WHY WILLIAM BRUMFIELD’S PHOTOGRAPHS OF RUSSIA ARE US WAR PROPAGANDA

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

William Brumfield is an American university professor who has specialised in photographing Russian architecture before the Revolution, especially churches. His pictures are optimistic, not so much for the revival of the Orthodox God as for the recovery of Church property from before (lead image, right).  If one of Brumfield’s pictures could do for a thousand words, the record of Russian atheism (lead image, left), secularism, communism, collectivisation and socialism would be erased as if it had never existed.

Brumfield has visited Russia more than fifty times in the past fifty years. In 2019 he was awarded the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin, though not personally. The medal was sent to the Russian Embassy in Washington, and that’s where Brumfield collected it. The award is a multi-purpose one for foreigners; it has also gone to Gennady Timchenko’s wife and daughter for their good works as ex-Russian Finnish nationals. Since 2014 they have all been targeted by US Treasury sanctions.

Brumfield’s newest book is a candidate for selection in London as Pushkin House’s best book on Russia for 2021.  That’s if the selection committee agree to count it on their short list to be announced shortly.  The committee is run this year by two well-known Russia haters, Fiona Hill of the US National Security Council  and the ex-NATO secretary-general George Robertson.

Brumfield’s book is called “Journeys through the Russian Empire”. It reproduces the photographs of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, taken between 1903 and 1916, displayed side by side with attempts at reproducing the same shots taken by Brumfield between 1972 and 2018.

Except for a brief record of the mosques and medrassas of Bukhara and Samarkand, the majority of both sets of photographs is of churches and monasteries located outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Brumfield is vague on what Prokudin-Gorsky was doing; he provides no direct diary excerpts,  letters, notes, or contemporary versions of what the photographer was thinking at the time. Brumfield appears not to have read Prokudin-Gorsky’s memoirs, published in France in 1932 and quoted in the Russian website dedicated to the Russian photographer since 2011.  

Brumfield is also fuzzy on what he’s been doing himself. He concedes “the nostalgic appeal of a lost world vividly rediscovered in brilliant colour. These photographs transport us back in time and create an illusion of memory”. But since Brumfield thinks he knows what happened next better than Prokudin-Gorsky could, the “nostalgic interpretations…may be superficially appealing, but they ignore a larger, at times devastating, context.”

Brumfield doesn’t mean the German wars on Russia;  nor the civil war invasions by armies from Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey, France, Britain and the US;  nor the current US-NATO war.  He is only thinking of the revolution of 1917 and of “the next decade…years of war, social collapse, hunger and savage violence”. On the one hand, Brumfiield acknowledges “the perspective that Prokudin-Gorsky implicitly endorses in his photographs is that of Russians as bringers of progress and amelioration”. On the other hand, he thinks the subsequent history didn’t bring that about either.  He doesn’t quite dare to say that he blames the godless Russians.  “Historical buildings are a form of real estate and as such are subject to competing interests. The survival or destruction of architectural landmarks – and specifically those photographed by Prokudin-Gorsky – may reflect many, seemingly contradictory impulses. We have noted the important role played by the Russian Orthodox Church in the process of restoration, yet the Church has often been criticized by preservationists for renovations taken after the restitution of church property”.

This is a book to help western readers imagine there would be a better Russia if only the present leadership would sign terms of capitulation; they are the terms which Fiona Hill and George Robertson have made their careers thinking up, promoting in public, failing to achieve on the war front.   

The book is a large volume of the sort publishers market to readers intending to display, flat on their coffee tables, how cultivated their owners are.  In this context – cocktails this evening, war tomorrow – it might have been better if Brumfield had presented his collection of matching pre-1917 and pre-1991 photographs without writing a word. That way the photographs would speak for themselves to “the competing interests”. Brumfield might have left the words to Hill and Robertson whom those fond of Russian culture can safely ignore.

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HOW THE NATO ALLIANCE IS FIGHTING RUSSIA’S SPUTNIK V VACCINE WITH SUBSIDIES FROM STATE BUDGETS AND THE GATES FOUNDATION, HIDDEN BY THE FINANCIAL TIMES

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

When the organ claiming to be the world’s leading financial newspaper conceals the large price subsidy for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by the NATO allies, in order to accuse Russia of price gouging the poor, you can be sure you are watching an information warfare attack.

And when the concealment of the vaccine subsidy operation run by GAVI and COVAX hides the fact that the UK, US, and the Bill Gates (lead image, right) and Melinda Gates Foundation are paying 92% of the $10 billion scheme, then you realise that Covid-19 vaccines are a weapon of war.

A war, not only against Russia, but also against China.

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.

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RUSSIAN REPORTING ON THE SECRETS OF THE COMMAND BUNKER UNDERNEATH AZOVSTAL



By Margarita Menshikova, translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On the day before Good Friday (Orthodox), Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported at the Kremlin to President Vladimir Putin that at Mariupol,  inside the Azovstal steel works, about two thousand troops remain underground, including foreigners. Putin issued the following order: “There is no need to penetrate these catacombs and crawl under these industrial facilities. Seal off the industrial zone completely.”  

Four days earlier on April 17, the Defence Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov told the press that “up to four hundred foreign mercenaries were trapped [at Azovstal]… Most of them are citizens of European countries, as well as Canada. We have already reported earlier that radio conversations between militants in Mariupol are conducted in six foreign languages”  

Today, an unusually detailed report by the Moscow internet broadcaster Tsargrad was published to signal the strategic significance and political value of the NATO officers in their command bunker under Azovstal.

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