RUSSIA THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS OF ANGLO-AMERICAN WAR

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

“Vladimir Putin is not the president of my choice”.

This is how the daughter of a powerful apparatchik in Tatarstan begins the book she has just written from London, at a think-tank leading the propaganda war against Russia. The problem for Gulnaz Sharafutdinova (lead image, right),  inside her mind, is “the gap between how many of my schoolmates, friends and family back home perceive Putin’s leadership, and how I perceive it.”   The problem outside Sharafutdinova’s mind is that she is on the other side in the war against Russia, and she doesn’t want to admit it.   

So she has produced the book her employers at King’s College Russia Institute and the Oxford University Press require.  Could it be any other way? Could Sharafutdinova keep her job and publishing contract if she explained current anti-Western, in particular anti-American and anti-British sentiment in Russia, as the outcome of the war those two states and the NATO alliance launched against Moscow since 2014?

If, instead,  her book had come to the conclusion that all Russians from President Vladimir Putin on down believe everyone would be better off if the Anglo-American warmakers left Russia to evolve on its own, Sharafutdinova, her institute,  and her printing press would be impoverished — out of jobs, out of power,  out of money. That’s not a judgement they can afford.    

The watershed year, Sharafutdinova acknowledges, was 2014. But she blames Putin, not only for having instigated the war against the West, but for expanding and exploiting it for his own schemes of domestic re-election, compensation for his own insecurities,  enrichment of his supporters, and “to forge the new Russian collective identity and his own image as a great leader of the Russian nation.”

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PUTIN FANTASIES – HOW A NEW YORK PROFESSOR CALLED TIMOTHY FRYE DISCOVERED VIRTUE IN A WORLD FREE FROM US GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA, MONEY & WAR FOR REGIME CHANGE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Inside a university on the upper west side of Manhattan island sits Timothy Frye (lead image, right), a professor who still likes to talk of the good times he had in the Soviet Union when he was a young agent in a propaganda touring show for the US Information Agency; and then, during the first post-Soviet years, when he was a broadcaster of good news at the US outlet, Radio Free Europe.

He is still making his living broadcasting the news about Russia. This is no less a product of the same US government money trail as his early efforts, although Frye’s title, those of his sources, and of the think-tanks and academic units which pay their salaries and finance their research are more highfalutin than they were.    

There is also no change in the source of this news about Russia. It comes second hand and by hearsay from US and British journalists in the mainstream media; from Russian reporters on stipend to US sponsors; and academic researchers on either side of the Atlantic, quoting each other.

In this world, all the warfighting objectives of toppling the Putin administration, defeating the Russian Army in the Donbass and Syria, and recovering Crimea for the Kiev regime, are endorsed by Frye. All charges of cyber attacks, media trolling and US election campaign intervention by Russian military intelligence agents; poison attacks against Alexander Litvinenko, the Skripals, and Alexei Navalny; the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17; the deaths of Anna Politkovskaya, Boris Nemtsov, and Sergei Magnitsky – in short, every evil Russian deed reported for the past decade is accepted by Frye as the truth,  together with the regime-change narratives of William Browder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Navalny.

But Frye’s book is more than a hackneyed replay.  It is evidence of what is in the mind of Frye himself, and of the Anglo-American academic establishment, as they work away at their war against Russia. Theirs is a virtuous cause, Frye thinks, because he and his peer group believe they are being scientific about the Russian enemy, and are certain they know the enemy better than he knows them.  

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THE CAUSE OF DAWN STURGESS’S DEATH — FUNERAL AND CREMATION RECORDS CAST FRESH DOUBT ON NOVICHOK

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

New evidence has surfaced from interviews with sources at the Salisbury undertaker and crematorium in charge of the obsequies for Dawn Sturgess, whose death at Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018, is the only death officially recorded from the Novichok nerve agent. Their testimony raises fresh doubts that Novichok was the cause of her death, and suspicion that the two state coroners and two state pathologists responsible for the investigation have been concealing material evidence of timing and records in the case.

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THE RUSSIAN CONCORDAT BETWEEN PATRIARCH AND KREMLIN ISN’T AT ALL LIKE THE ONE NAPOLEON GOT POPE PIUS VII TO SIGN

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Why would Orthodox Christian Russia, led by a believer, ally itself with Protestant America and Catholic Europe to encourage the Israeli Jews to liquidate a rebellion of Palestinian Arabs, mostly Moslem, after they tried to defend one of their Holy Places from Jewish invasion, and counter-attacked with more military resourcefulness than the Crusader Alliance has seen for many years?

Holy Places mean to believers what red lines mean to soldiers. Crossing them is an immediate  reason to open fire.  Since ancient times there has been an invariable rule of war on the territory of Palestine – set the locals at war with each other but never allow one to be strong enough to challenge imperial rule. The red lines have been drawn accordingly. From the Greeks to the Romans, Byzantines, Caliphs, Ottomans, and then the Soviets, the rule was never to allow Israel to become too strong; the red line in Palestine was the one Israel’s forces should never dare to cross.

As the Israelis have been breaking the rule by crossing the red lines to expand their territory, the Russians have broken the rule by accepting and giving ground. The first time was by Boris Yeltsin, who was never his own master outside Russia’s borders or inside; and now, in the past month, by Vladimir Putin.  For this reason, disallowing Israel from becoming too strong has been the dividing line between the Russian General Staff, Defence Ministry, the intelligence services,  and lately the Foreign Ministry, who have stuck to the rule and the red line; and Putin who has not. Although this rule is a strategic one, a reason of state, not an article of religion, Putin’s position – unexplained in public – is one of personal conviction endorsed by the Church and Patriarch Kirill.

Understanding that this has happened before requires a historical reference. For today, the point of comparison is the “Concordat” negotiated by Napoleon and Pope Pius VII between 1800 and 1801. Comparing doesn’t require taking the side of the Pope as he plotted war against Napoleon; signed an agreement on terms for the subordination of the church to the state; was taken prisoner of war as he tried to break the pact to the Church’s advantage when Napoleon was losing his power on the battlefields of Russia and Waterloo.

What these histories 220 years apart tell us  – the history of the Concordat signed on July 14, 1801, and Article 67.1 of the Russian Constitution, signed on July 3, 2020 —  is the same. Religion is not only the belief of the people (some of them), it is an ideology of rule in which religiosity is the camouflage for a campaign of territorial conquest and economic enrichment.  Documenting this is a new book by Ambrogio A. Caiani, just  published by the Yale University Press, which claims  to demonstrate how, between 1800 and 1812,  Napoleon of France, impious revolutionary, committed secularist, cruel imperialist, was defeated by Pius VII, representative of the superior church of the true God.  

The author, a confessing believer, displays his partisanship for the Pope against Napoleon; this   should not detract from the value of the parallels with the story  in Russia today, as the Palestinians celebrate their moral victory over Israel; as Putin celebrates the birthdays of the Pacific Fleet and of Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, but keeps his silence on Palestine.

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WHITE NOISE, WHITE SILENCE — RUSSIA & PALESTINE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

It has been eleven years since the Levada Centre, the independent national polling organisation in Moscow, reported a survey of Russian attitudes towards the Palestinians and the Israelis. “We had such a poll in 2010,” Denis Leven, a Levada sociologist, said yesterday. “I can’t say exactly if we are going to make another one in the near future. Now we focus on the events in Russia and neighbouring countries.”

This isn’t true; in recent weeks, Levada has polled Russians on their attitudes towards Turkey, the US, the European Union, China, as well as the states which Russians regard as enemies —  Great Britain, Poland, the Baltic states, Germany, France, Japan,  and Canada.

Speaking for the rival national pollster, the All-Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM),  Diana Osyanina says “we aren’t planning to make a poll about this [Palestine-Israel] conflict because now we focus mostly on the domestic issues.” VTsIOM’s last published poll on the conflict appeared in January 2018; it focused on Russian views of whether Tel Aviv or Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. The majority couldn’t say.

Since the fighting began at the start of May, the mainstream Russian media report no public demonstrations anywhere in the country in support of either the Palestinians or the Israelis. The domestic media have not sent reporters to the areas of fighting; their news bulletins have been perfunctory and compiled from non-Russian sources. Military media such as Colonel Cassad and Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) have reported little. Vzglyad, reflecting Russian intelligence agency thinking, has published one hostile piece against the Palestinians,  one neutral situation report, and one technical military assessment of the drones which Hamas has been using at sea, off the Israeli coast, and against land targets, as well as the start of Iranian drone firing from Syria.*

The Russian Orthodox Church which has long maintained pilgrimage sites, churches and monasteries in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, said through its press spokesman Vladimir Legoida that it has issued no press release on the conflict or official statement from the Patriarch himself;  Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the department for external church relation; or the Church’s organs in Jerusalem.  

The Palestine state ambassador to Moscow, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, was reported by Tass on Tuesday (May 18) as calling for direct talks between Palestine and Israel in Moscow “at any time…even tomorrow because we are confident in Russia.” The next day he was asked how he explains the lack of public support for the Palestinians in Russia. He refuses to say.

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THE LIE THAT KILLED DAWN STURGESS – AND WHY IT TOOK THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FOUR MONTHS TO PERSUADE TWO DOCTORS, PHILIP LUMB AND GUY RUTTY, TO SIGN THEIR NAMES TO NOVICHOK

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In the 50-year history of the nerve agent Novichok, no human being has died from it with the exception of Dawn Sturgess in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on July 8, 2018.  Only Sturgess didn’t.

The cause of her death, according to the post-mortem performed the next day, July 9, 2018, by  Philip Lumb (lead image, right), was “post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage”, according to the report he signed. This means that Sturgess suffered from a heart attack, which then stopped the flow of oxygen to her brain (hypoxia). An unfortunate, but also very common cause of death, according to the medical research.  Lumb did not report what caused Sturgess’s heart to stop.

Lumb is a career pathologist registered with the Home Office for suspicious death forensic  investigations in the northwest England and Wales,     and a consultant at Sheffield’s Medico-Legal Centre, one of the leading medical forensic centres in the UK. He is also current president of the British Association in Forensic Medicine, the standard-setter for the country. Lumb has a sharp sense of his professional and ethical duty. “If you make a mistake,” he has told a press interview, “somebody could go to prison for 20-odd years.”   

Lumb didn’t make a mistake with the sequence of events which killed Sturgess – heart failure, then loss of oxygen to the brain, then brain death. But this wasn’t what the British government (lead image, left) wanted to hear.  So a second pathologist was called in to conduct a second post-mortem on July 17. His name is Guy Rutty (centre), once a colleague of Lumb’s at Sheffield and also a professor. But Rutty didn’t sign his name to his report on the cause of Sturgess’s death until November 29. The interval was four and a half months.  

That second report, kept secret for another two and a half years, was revealed in the Wiltshire coroner’s court on March 30 of this year. The cause of Sturgess’s death, which Rutty signed and which was sworn to by the counsel for the coroner, was read out in court: “Ia post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity”.

Semi-colons are punctuation; they have no medical or logical meaning. British toxicologists and pathologists consulted for the interpretation of Rutty’s cause of death report say it is highly unusual for its lack of precision on sequence, cause and effect; and for the order Ia/Ib which Rutty signed. The toxicologists believe that paralysis of the lungs leading to asphyxiation is the usual trigger for death by nerve agents.

No toxicologist, forensic pathologist or registered Home Office post-mortem investigator can be found who will explain why after the two post-mortems on July 9 and July 18, a delay would be required to produce the November 29 finding. Lumb and Rutty refuse to provide details of their roles in the two post-mortems or to explain the delay between them and the official report.

Rutty referred his questions to Martin Smith, the newly appointed solicitor to the new inquest and a veteran of politically sensitive inquests in the past.  “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Smith has responded, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.”

These details of the only Novichok fatality in history are the nails in the proverbial horseshoe for loss of which the battle was lost, then the kingdom.

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“EQUIVALENCE” – RUSSIA TILTS TOWARDS ISRAEL, AGAINST PALESTINE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

There are a few kilometres of flat country between the Golan border of Palestine, occupied by Israel, and Damascus, capital of Syria – perfect visibility, no cover, optimum for Israeli air and artillery attack, and also for Syrian and Iranian drone counterattack.

Between the occupying Israelis and the occupied Palestinians on the Israel side of the line, the Kremlin and the Russian General Staff, victors in the Syria War, say they are unable to see daylight; that’s to say,  they can’t distinguish between attacker and defender. For Russians at daily war themselves defending against the encroaching attacks of the NATO allies not to see this, but instead to accuse the Palestinian defenders of provoking their victimisation and losses, as well as to deny the Palestinians their rights of state sovereignty and national liberation with whatever forces they have – this is the contradiction of President Vladimir Putin.

It’s a contradiction the General Staff, the intelligence agencies, the Defence and Foreign ministers are acutely aware of right now.

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ANOTHER SHAKE OF THE NOVICHOK MONEY TREE — POLICE SERGEANT NICK BAILEY THREATENS IF HE DOESN’T GET HIS PAYOFF

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Nicholas Bailey (lead image), the Wiltshire county police sergeant who was a support player in the British Government’s first Novichok attack on the Kremlin, has demanded money for himself with the threat that if he doesn’t get it, and soon, he will go to the High Court in London. There, he is threatening to tell everything he knows about the alleged poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on March 4, 2018. That was one of the makings of the promotion of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the fattening of the pockets of the MI6 intelligence agency and the Cabinet Office. It was the prequel of the second Novichok attack on the Kremlin, staged by Alexei Navalny last August, in which he demanded to become president of Russia.

OMG!

If Bailey tells the truth about the fabrications in his case, will he trigger the downfall of the British government, the outgoing German government, MI6 , CIA, the German secret service BND,  the German Army laboratory in Munich, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, everyone else who believes the Novichok story;  and put a stop to the allied war against Russia?

In stakes as mighty as these, how much money can Bailey’s silence be worth?

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NEW YORK JUDGE AGREES TO PROTECT RUNAWAY RUSSIAN BANK ROBBER VADIM BELYAEV WITH HIS BILLION-DOLLAR LOOT – ON CONDITION HE PRETENDS TO ACCEPT THE RULINGS OF THE RUSSIAN COURTS

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Accused Russian bank robber Vadim Belyaev (lead picture) – US alias Vadim Wolfson – has won an order from the New York State Supreme Court dismissing the claims of his pursuers, National Trust Bank (NBT, Trust) and Otkritie Bank of Moscow, on condition he registers himself as a defendant in the same claims the two banks are making against him in a Moscow court. Judge Joel Cohen issued his order ending the eleven-month case on May 4. He has not published his reasons.

On the face of it, Cohen has done no more than conclude that he should concede jurisdiction over Belyaev and the bank claims to a Russian court, where proceedings are already under way. In practice, as the banks’ lawyers have pointed out in New York, whatever the Moscow courts decide, Belyaev, now living in New York, has no intention of complying with its judgements,   calculating that the US courts will not allow bank recovery of Belyaev’s ill-gotten gains so long as they are safely stored in US banks.

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LAUGHING ON THE MARCH UP TO THE FRONT

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Russian laughter has weaponised – and that’s no joke.

Nor is it new. This month is the 185th anniversary of the first stage performance of The Government Inspector (Ревизор, Revizor), the work launching the fame of its author Nikolai Gogol. The laughter which the play, then the book drew from May 1, 1836, was followed by this autobiographical acknowledgement from Gogol six years later, when his equally famous book, Dead Souls  (Мёртвые души, Myortvyi dushi),  appeared.

“Lofty ecstatic laughter,” Gogol said, “is quite worthy of taking its place beside the loftiest lyrical gust and…it has nothing in common with the faces a mountebank makes. The judgement of [the author’s] time does not admit this and will twist everything into reproof and abuse directed against the unrecognised writer; deprived of assistance, response and sympathy, he will remain, like some homeless traveller alone on the road. Grim will be his career and bitterly will he realise his utter loneliness.”

Against US warmakers like President Dementia (старый маразматик  “Old Marismatic”  ) and the Blin-Noodle Gang, Chancellor Merkel,  Prime Minister Johnson, and their president-in-waiting-for-Russia, Alexei Navalny, Russian joke-making is a weapon against which the allies have nothing comparable, no counter-measure. Exceptional Gogol believed Russians to be, compared to Germans, French, British,  or Americans. Exceptionalist the latter believe themselves to be, compared to Russians. Still, the one uniquely exceptional weapon Russians wage in war is their laughter at their enemies. The others caricature or cartoon the Russians, but they hate too earnestly, so they can’t laugh at them.

The pranksters Alexei Stolyarov (lead image, right) and Vladimir Kuznetsov (left) – Lexus and Vovan are their respective stage names — explain that making jokes at the expense of those in power inside Russia had been worth doing until war was declared against Russia. Now, they say,  their jokes aim at laughing at those who are much worse.   Gogol didn’t get so far.

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THE NEW NAVALNY INDICTMENT – WHY ARTICLE 239 PROSECUTION IS WORSE FOR THE ANGLO-AMERICAN REGIME-CHANGE OPERATION THAN ARTICLE 275 (TREASON)

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

When Alexei Navalny and his aides met in Germany in January with the US, British and German intelligence services, they agreed that Navalny would cease to be what he imagines himself to be, the front-running candidate for president of Russia, if he followed Boris Berezovsky and  Mikhail Khodorkovsky into permanent exile abroad. The agents also reminded Navalny that his two predecessors could count on more of their own personal cash to pay for the standard of living and attention to which they were accustomed, than Navalny could.  On account of his vanity and their cash, they had Navalny over a barrel.

So return to Russia he must, they decided. They also agreed that if that happened, Navalny would go to jail.

Navalny was assured that if he could accept that, the western allies would do their best, as publicly as possible, to make his stay in prison as politically powerful as possible – and shorter than Khodorkovsky’s ten years.  Navalny was complimented that President Joseph Biden, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised personally to say his name aloud,  not to mention the leaders of Estonia, Lithuania,  Latvia, and Australia, whose names and influence Navalny esteemed less. Turning the courtroom and then his jail cell into Navalny’s new political platform, he was convinced, was the necessary new stage since Operation NOVICHOK and Operation PUTIN PALACE were fizzling out.

Not for the first time, Navalny has miscalculated.

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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

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RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

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THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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KILLING IS CHEAPER — THE US ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WEAPONIZES TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, WHATSAPP, TELEGRAM

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.

The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory.  The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image).   McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.

Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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