Each time former Wiltshire police sergeant Nicholas Bailey (lead image, right) tries to advertise his availability to tell his story for the Crown and for the money, he adds tiny details contradicting the official British government narrative that he was the victim of a Russian state attempt to use the Novichok nerve agent to kill Sergei Skripal on March 4, 2018.
He also adds volumes to the evidence that it was the fabrication of the Novichok story, and the deceit and camouflage Bailey has been ordered to portray, which caused what Bailey now describes as “grieving for my former self”, “griev[ing] for my job as well”, “everything crumbling around me”, “massive impact on my marriage”, “major setbacks”, and “[being] consumed by this upset and anger”. He is emphatic: “I don’t want to be known as the poisoned cop.”
Bailey is selling pep talks to managers dealing with disgruntled employees with lines like “give yourself a break… be happy and content with what you’ve got and who you are”. What his lawyers and PR agents are telling the Wiltshire police and the Home Office in London is that lying requires much more than the medical retirement pension Bailey was paid last year when he was invalided out of the force.
Nicholas Bailey (lead image) is the detective sergeant of Wiltshire county police whom the British Government says was poisoned by Novichok when he turned the front-door handle of Sergei Skripal’s Salisbury town house on March 4, 2018. Last Friday from London, in a 74-minute interview with Andrew Coulson, former press adviser to former prime minister David Cameron. Bailey gave the longest witness testimony he has given in three years to what happened to Skripal; to himself; and to Dawn Sturgess when, according to British Government statements which began on March 8, 2018, the Kremlin and the Russian military intelligence agency GRU used Novichok in an attempt to kill Skripal.
Bailey’s testimony is evidence, a leading British toxicologist says, that the physiological and cognitive symptoms Bailey describes in detail were not those of a victim of organophosphate poisoning, much less military-grade nerve agent Novichok. “Basically, every orifice that produces a fluid, or can leak a fluid goes into overdrive,” the source comments. “I think Bailey would remember that.”
Soundtrack and voice analysis by another source indicates that Bailey knows he is lying. “Bailey is a bad actor,” comments a theatre voice coach, “reading from a bad script.” If Bailey is telling the truth now, the sources say, he is talking proof that there was no Novichok then.
The British Embassy’s Press Office has stopped answering its telephones in Moscow. It is also refusing to respond to emailed requests like the name of the Embassy defence attaché, a naval officer, who appeared at the Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday to listen to the official protest of HMS Defender’s 31-minute, 29-kilometre run into Russian territorial waters that morning.
It is in the small details that the meaning of the naval engagement off Cape Fiolent, Crimea, can be found. In not lining up the small details so they corroborate the official interpretations, the British Government in London has demonstrated less competence than the Polish Government in Warsaw three months ago, when it sent fishing boats, a navy mine-layer and an anti-submarine patrol aircraft against Russia’s Nord Stream-2 pipe-laying vessel, the Fortuna.
In that episode, Warsaw’s defence ministry tweeted officially that “the Polish Navy does not carry out any provocative activities and carries out its statutory tasks in accordance with international law. M-28B Bryza aircraft regularly carry out patrol and reconnaissance flights in the Baltic Sea area.”
In this week’s episode, London’s Ministry of Defence tweeted: “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law. We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior warning of their activity. No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path. As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor. She exited that corridor safely at 0945 BST [11:45 Moscow time]. As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity.”
The wording of both communiqués was a combination of calculated imprecision and state propaganda. But the words covered retreat under Russian counter-attack. It’s on occasions like these, when the facts don’t match the words, that retreat under fire means backfire. Like the Poles, the British lose by gaining nothing. The Russians win by demonstrating effective defence of a red line.
When it comes to influencing how Russians will vote, the Anglo-American Navalny operation isn’t a patch on the Russian sense of humour. No amount of money which the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Anglo-American info-warfare units can throw at Russians can compete, let alone overcome it.
But it is no joke that the President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced this week that people who refuse to get vaccinated “pose a threat to others” and deserve to be punished. That’s almost two-thirds of the country, according to the latest Levada Centre poll.
What Peskov means is that popular resistance to vaccination is a threat to the pro-government vote for the national parliament on September 19.
When General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, sat down at the presidential summit table in Geneva last week, there was nobody on the US side to match him. This has never happened at a head of state meeting between the US and Russian sides.
It was the occasion which armchair generals and Chinese military observers like to attribute to their ancient and most famous general, Sun Tzu. “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles,” he wrote down, “is not the supreme of excellence. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme of excellence.”
By how many degrees of improbability then, is the outcome that President Joseph Biden, his national security advisor Jacob Sullivan, and the Blin-Noodle Gang (Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Deputy Secretary Victoria Nuland) failed to put up a fight, and the entire US press corps failed to see?
President Joseph Biden spent 33 minutes speaking at his press confernce to a group of US reporters pre-selected, coached, and programmed by name, organisation and text of question. This operation made it impossible to allow Russian reporters to attend.
Biden’s speech to his press was longer than he managed by himself in the restricted-format session with President Vladimir Putin and their two foreign ministers and interpreters, which began the summit on Wednesday, and lasted 108 minutes. The 33-minute performance was also longer than Biden managed at the expanded format of the talks, which included press spokesmen, national security advisers, deputy foreign ministry officials and the two state ambassadors. That session lasted 91 minutes.
Biden demonstrated he can rehearse, recite, repeat.
He added nothing, nor did he subtract anything from the G7 communiqué of three days ago, in which he accused Russia of “destabilising behaviour and malign activities, including its interference in other countries’ democratic systems, and to fulfil its international human rights obligations and commitments. In particular, we call on Russia to urgently investigate and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil, to end its systematic crackdown on independent civil society and media, and to identify, disrupt, and hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks, abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cybercrimes.”
Biden, together with the American journalists appearing at the two presidential pressers, also repeated the accusations of the NATO communiqué of two days ago.
Biden’s 33-minute performance demonstrated the clinical motor and cognitive symptoms which remain state secrets in Washington. They are now better understood in Moscow than by US experts on the 25th Amendment.
In the few impromptu remarks Biden recorded there were flashes of hostility. About China’s President Xi Jinping, he said: “Let’s get something straight. We know each other well. We are not old friends. It’s just pure business”. Asked what he would do if Alexei Navalny dies, Biden said: “That’s not a satisfying answer: ‘Biden said he’d invade Russia.’ You know, it is not — you know. By the way, that was a joke. That’s not true. But my generic point is, it is — it is more complicated than that.”
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behaviour,” Biden rounded on a reporter challenging his capacity to deter Putin, as he tried to leave the press room. “Where the hell — what do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said — I said — what I said was — let’s get it straight. I said: What will change their behavior is if the rest of world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything; I’m just stating a fact.”
When Putin was asked by a Russian reporter if he has “any new illusions as a result of this meeting?”, he replied: “ I didn’t even have the old ones, and you’re talking about the new ones. Where did you get the idea about illusions? There are no illusions and there can be no illusions.”
In an advertisement for herself on British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Radio 4, the coroner directing the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess has revealed that she has already decided that Sturgess’s death on July 8, 2018, was caused by a nerve agent called Novichok fabricated by agents of the Russian state, carried to England, and used as a weapon in a murder plot.
Baroness Heather Hallett spent weeks negotiating with the BBC for this interview, preparing the announcer script, and choosing the music to be played on the long-running celebrity programme, Desert Island Discs. The 35-minute broadcast went to air on June 6; it was repeated on June 11.
Hallett announced towards the end: “There is an increasing tendency these days to jump to judgement. You have to analyse the evidence. It’s only when you analyse the evidence that you can reach a sensible and reasoned and fair judgement”.
This is not what Hallett and the BBC had agreed would be said at the start, when Hallett was introduced as “the coroner of the Salisbury Novichok inquest” who would “examine the part played by the Russian government”.
Not since May of 1992, when Lord Chief Justice Peter Taylor appeared on Desert Island Discs, has a sitting jurist agreed to present himself or herself on the radio show. In Taylor’s broadcast no mention was made of an active case.
In the radio archive there have been many cooks, actors, Tory politicians, lawyers, and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, all actively talking their book. The BBC and Hallett decided she should be introduced as presiding in the inquest to determine what caused Sturgess’s death. Hallett has held one preliminary hearing on March 30; promised a new one this month; postponed it to September 22. She has heard no evidence in court.
Her radio show reveals, however, that what makes up Hallett’s mind isn’t forensic at all.
Every summer and winter the London art auction houses display the best of Russian painting and fine art objects for a bidding match between Russian bank robbers on the run; museums; boardrooms; and everybody else with the taste to fit their pockets. When the price of oil goes up, along with the Moscow stock market index, pockets swell and the price of the art goes up. When court arrest warrants and asset freeze orders are pressing the robbers, the price goes down.
All the fine art markets are the same; the wartime prejudice against Russian art inflicts a discount. The Russian supply is more limited on account of the Culture Ministry’s export controls, and also because the supply history is several centuries shorter for Russian paintings than for Chinese and European.
This year the growth in the clean money was expected to offset the absence of the dirty money. Auction house sources also anticipated that more Russian buyers would participate in the internet format this time than last year’s first Covid-19 auction. A well-known London dealer forecast at the start of this month: “The June 2021 Russian Sales are the best yet! Ever! In history! In the whole, wide, beautiful world!” This has turned out to be Ukrainian surrealism.
According to last week’s results from Sotheby’s, Christie’s, MacDougall’s, and Bonham’s, the virtual sale totals are significantly better this year than a year ago; they also remain significantly below the last live auction totals in June 2019. On the traditional taste tests for nudes and for scenes of Crimea, this year’s results show reluctance to put the money up. Sotheby’s attempt to sell the combination, “Female Nude in Crimea” (lead image) by Stepan Dudnik, failed to reach the bargain reserve price of £6,000.
For the first time since the Dutch Government began its prosecution of the Russian Government for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and the killing of the 298 passengers and crew on board, the court has heard what the presiding judge, Hendrik Steenhuis (lead image), has described as autopsy and post-mortem evidence from the bodies recovered from the aircraft crash scene in eastern Ukraine.
For the first time, Steenhuis has read out a scripted version of what he declares to be admissible evidence from the bodies, although the trial of this evidence has only just begun.
And for the first time – without showing he has comprehended what he has revealed — Steenhuis confirms that only one piece of shrapnel identifiable with the alleged murder weapon, a Russian-made BUK missile, was discovered by the Dutch forensic teams, pathologists, policemen, prosecutors, and investigating judges who have been working on this evidence since the crash on July 17, 2014. If Steenhuis is telling the truth about this one bow-tie shaped piece of shrapnel from a missile warhead, another cube-shaped piece of shrapnel has disappeared from the cockpit bodies, plus one additional bow-tie and a cube reportedly found in the cockpit frame and photographed by the Dutch Safety Board in October 2015.
This one piece of metal has been admitted in evidence by Steenhuis without any chain of custody protecting it from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) since the SBU supervised autopsies of the same bodies in Kharkiv in July 2014, before sending them to The Netherlands. That is one piece of metal out of 2,600 bow-tie shapes and another 2,600 cube shapes in the BUK missile warhead Steenhuis has now ruled to have committed the crime.
For the Dutch judge this is beyond reasonable doubt.
The US Government told the Dutch Government on April 23, 2021, that it does not trust Dutch judges in the trial of Russians accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
In a letter that has been kept secret until yesterday, the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the State Department and the Department of Justice declared that they were happy to tell Dutch prosecutors that US satellite images proved that a Russian-fired BUK missile destroyed the MH17 in flight above eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. However, they would not allow the evidence of the satellite images, or the details of the secret DNI briefing of unnamed Dutch government officials on August 23, 2016, from being repeated, tested and verified by the Dutch judges who have been requesting the evidence for several years.
The US officials also said in their letter they rejected all possible alternatives for the Dutch judges to examine the alleged evidence.
According to a statement of the Dutch investigating judge to the presiding trial judge, read out in court on June 7, taking into account “the clear reaction of the American authorities the investigating judge in all reasonableness sees no possibility to indeed further execute this referred request [for the satellite evidence].”
Russian lawyers following the proceedings in The Hague District Court believe the collapse of US government evidence in the case leaves the only evidence for the prosecution to come from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) which Dutch judges refuse to allow to be tested by independent experts. International war crimes lawyers have repeatedly said that without the US satellite evidence, the Ukrainian government fabrications leave no case for the Russians to answer, and that the defence lawyers for the indicted Russian Army officer Oleg Pulatov should now walk out.
Since 1984 – that’s 37 years – the difference between a slice of meat between two buns and truth-telling by the President of the United States has been thin.
That’s why the Wendy’s Company of Dublin, Ohio, became famous with the line that distinguishes between propaganda and truth, between the beef and the buns. The line is “Where’s the beef?” It made its debut in Wendy’s hamburger advertisement (lead image); it was weaponised by Walter Mondale against Gary Hart in the Democratic presidential nomination campaign of 1984; it was revived last year when, on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, supplies of beef patties began to run out at US hamburger outlets.
When President Joe Biden (left) meets President Vladimir Putin (centre) in Geneva next Wednesday, June 16, the White House has promised a tirade of attacks on Russia, including last week’s a cyber hack on meat processor JBS; last month’s Colonial fuel pipeline hack; and last year’s SolarWinds hack on every secret the US government thinks it is keeping.
Remember that if the SolarWinds allegation is true, there’s only one secret Biden has left – this is that there aren’t any US secrets he can keep from Putin, including how much beef there is in US hamburgers and petrol in US gas tanks.
In an act of over-confidence and carelessness on March 30, the British coroner appointed in January to investigate the cause of death of Dawn Sturgess, ex-judge and secret service advisor Baroness Heather Hallett has created a truth trap. The truth is Cremation Form Number 6 (lead image). This is the trap into which Hallett and the two lawyers advising her, Andrew O’Connor QC and Martin Smith, have now dropped themselves.
This three-page form permitted and registered the funeral and cremation of Sturgess; according to the British government, she is the only person in the world to have been killed by the Novichok nerve agent. She was released to her family after Form 6 was signed by Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley and copies handed to Chris White Funeral Directors who collected the body for the funeral ceremony on July 30; and to the Salisbury Crematorium for official authorisation to cremate the body later the same day. The signed form was passed from Ridley’s files to Hallett’s files when she replaced him as the coroner in charge of the Sturgess case last January.
Form 6 is the first official record of what caused Sturgess’s death, according to the autopsies which Coroner Ridley authorised between Sturgess’s recorded death on July 8 and July 17; only the autopsy on that date has been recorded by the press, by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and by Hallett.
On March 30, this year, Hallett released publicly for the first time the cause of death record signed by Home Office pathologists, Philip Lumb and Guy Rutty, in what the Hallett hearing was told was a report dated November 29, 2018. That was four months later than Ridley’s Form 6. Since Ridley had ordered Lumb and Rutty to carry out their post-mortem investigation, what was the difference between the cause of death Ridley signed and the November 29 report which Hallett selected for public release? The question is the truth trap.
Hallett has now exposed the difference between Form 6 and the Lumb-Rutty report. This is the difference between life and death — but not for Sturgess.
On the two papers, revealed for the first time this month, depends the truthfulness of the British government’s story of Novichok and of the Russian state agents whom the British accuse of carrying the nerve agent into England; attacking Sergei and Yulia Skripal with it; and then abandoning it in a leftover bottle which later — the British charge — killed Sturgess.
Hallett refuses, however, to say there is no contradiction between Form 6 and the later pathologists’ report; she refuses to release Form 6 for verification in the courtroom or in the press.
The British Government is preparing to halt the coroner’s court inquest into allegations that Novichok caused the death of Dawn Sturgess in Salisbury on July 8, 2018.
After replacing the Salisbury coroner in January of this year, and after a single hearing on March 30 by secret service advisor and ex-judge Baroness Heather Hallett, briefings by the Cabinet Office and the security services have led to the decision that the only way of preserving the government’s narrative of a Russian nerve agent attack, first against Sergei and Yulia Skripal, then against Sturgess, is to introduce Defence Ministry and MI6 evidence in secret session.
Hallett and the lawyers advising her inadvertently allowed secret medical evidence to slip into the public record on March 30. This revealed that two leading English pathologists could not agree to sign their findings on the cause of Sturgess’s death after holding two autopsies in July of 2018; they then delayed signing their final post-mortem report for almost five months. That report, dated November 29, 2018, the medical records of the first and second autopsies, along with ambulance paramedic logs, hospital admission records, and ward medical notes remain top secret. Together with the papers of MI6 agents, Porton Down nerve agent experts, and Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Office official in charge, this classified evidence is inadmissible in coroner’s court proceedings under English law; they are allowable in closed-door session if a public inquiry is substituted.
The switch from open coroner’s inquest to secret public inquiry, which Hallett and her predecessor Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley have forewarned, is planned to be announced later this month, or in July.
For the time being Hallett’s office declines to say when she will resume hearing the case.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 BlueLine (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those lighting Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral pyre are torching the truth of the matter – that Gorbachev was a liar of monumental vanity who betrayed his country out of greed and incompetence, outpointed by his adversaries in Moscow, Washington, and London because they knew him better than he knew himself.