By John Helmer, Moscow

The Russian intelligentsia, their hangers-on, oligarchs, and Navalnyites have always suffered from a cultural cringe. The grass is greener on the other side of the Russian border, they think, and for obvious reasons – though they aren’t the same for each of the cringing elites.  

So when the political tide goes out and leaves Russia stranded and isolated – as happened after the Revolution of 1917, the German invasion of 1941, and the NATO sanctions war since 2014 – the market in cultural nostalgia revives. For those trapped by history or money outside, the demand is for interior decoration with paintings of Russia as they like to imagine it. For those inside, they demand views of France – particularly the streets of Paris, the watering holes of Provence, and French ladies en déshabillé.

And so it came about that at the start of this month, MacDougall’s, the leading international auction house for Russian paintings, held its first-ever auction of Franco-Russian nostalgia entitled “École de Paris and Russian Artists in France”. MacDougall’s was the first house to organise a dedicated sale of works by Russian émigré artists in London; that was in 2004, just after the Russian Finance Ministry lifted the 30% tax on art imported to Russia; well before the US started the war in Ukraine in 2014.

On this new occasion, the paintings to be sold – 206 lots in all — had been part of the collection of a single European collector living in Monaco. Russian Art+Culture,  reports that  “over several decades, the collector managed to acquire almost a complete anthology of the Ecole de Paris.”

The outcome of the October 6 sale was total proceeds of £524,512, and the sale of 87 of the works on offer – 42%.

This clearance rate is well behind the 54% MacDougall’s managed at its midsummer Russian art auction.  The clearance rate for nudes, always a sensitive measure of Russian taste, was much lower. A total of 34 full-frontals were auctioned; all but one of them female; one canvas in six on the block. But just 7 were bought – 21%. In the midsummer Russian art week in London, the nude stocks cleared with less inhibition.

However, “Reclining nude” by Boris Chaliapin (lead image*) set close to the show record for beating the house estimate. MacDougall’s had marked the painting down for a maximum of £9,000, but it sold for £21,250 – more than double.



By Stanislas Balcerac, Warsaw, and John Helmer, Moscow

When Radosław Sikorski was a Polish government minister, he was obliged to make an annual report to the parliament (Sejm) and a public record of his income and assets.

For Polish  voters to learn whether his wife was being rewarded for influencing her husband in his official duties, and vice versa, the annual disclosure was required to include a line for her takings. Sikorski’s wife, an American named Anne Applebaum, is paid to give public lectures and publish commentaries on foreign policy topics in which Sikorski has played an official role in the Polish government’s decision-making.

The pair are among the most vocal Russia-haters, sanction-boosters, and NATO-promoters in eastern Europe. The New York Times recently reported that Sikorski “managed…secret missions with the United States.”

For a time also, Sikorski campaigned to be Secretary-General of NATO, and High Representative for foreign affairs of the European Commission. But he was rejected by the European members of NATO and by the European Union.

“I’m honest”, Sikorski announced.  “I am not into plotting and don’t steal. I am a double victim.”

Investigation of their financial disclosures by Polish officials, he and Applebaum have tweeted,    “stinks of Russian infowar tactic”. Publication in Warsaw of tape recordings of Sikorski’s political and business scheming was called “info-attacks on West” by his supporters. The Polish prime minister didn’t see it that way and pushed Sikorski out of domestic politics.   Follow the Sicklebaum rise and fall in the comic book just published.  

Even newer, but not so comic, is the report this week in Warsaw of new investigations of Sikorski’s money-making activities while taking the salary of a member of the European Parliament (MEP). According to this report of Stanislas Balcerac,     Sikorski is accepting a large amount of money on the side – and it’s unclear who is paying, what he is doing for the payoff, and what  secret missions Sikorski is running for the US.



By John Helmer, Moscow

When the German Army invaded Europe in the 1940s, they applied the doctrine of collective guilt against the civilian populations behind the Resistance and the partisans attacking their troops. After the Germans were defeated, the doctrine and the murderous result of it were judged to be a war crime. The London Charter of 1945, creating the legal basis for the Nuremberg prosecutions, introduced a special provision, Article 9, to turn individual associations of Germans into “criminal organisations”.

Collective guilt and guilt by association are hoary old doctrines, and when they reappear these days against blacks, Jews and muslims, for example, they are judged to be crimes of race hatred or hate crimes.

But when the doctrine is advocated in media reports and books about Russia and the Russians running the country since 2000, the doctrine isn’t a hate crime. It’s a war weapon whose detonators are being primed every day. The second handbook for demonstrating how to clean, load, and fire this weapon against Russia was published last year by Catherine Belton (lead image, right). She and Rupert Murdoch’s publishing house HarperCollins call their Russia war-fighting manual Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia, and Then Took on the West.  Belton, HarperCollins and the book are now on trial for lying and libel in the High Court in London.

In operational terms for the Russia war-fighters, Belton’s book was Fat Man, nickname for the US atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. Little Boy, the US bomb dropped on Hiroshima, came first. Before Belton, that was Karen Dawisha’s (left) book called Putin’s Kleptocracy, Who Owns Russia, published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster. Belton doesn’t mention Dawisha’s name or give her the credit for publishing the first manual in the info-war series.



By Marios Evriviades, Cyprus, translated from Greek by John Helmer, Moscow

From time to time we read that Russia will recognize the separatist faits accomplis of Turkey’s occupation in Cyprus, in exchange for Turkey’s recognition of the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation. And each time the Russian government categorically refutes the existence of such a dubious oriental bargain. The most recent statement of Maria Zakharova, the spokesman of the Russian Foreign Minister. was that this claim is “fake information” being spread by the “Greek and Turkish media”.  

Zakharova went further: “The Republic of Crimea is an integral part, one of the most dynamically developing regions of the Russian Federation. The territory of our country has never been and will not be the subject of bargaining. Stating the opposite is close to provocation. Finding analogies between Russian Crimea and the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is incorrect and I would say, unsafe, even dangerous. Such insinuations confuse international audiences, undermine trust, and generate negative emotions, also with regard to the Cyprus settlement.”

To be clear, there is not one iota of truth in what is reported. The dubiousness that is alleged between Moscow and Ankara and focused supposedly on Cyprus is no more than targeted Turkish propaganda. Its goal is to roil the waters in the Eastern Mediterranean and create among the Cypriots confusion as to what other “mistake” the Cyprus government may be making with Russia that will end up with another calamity for Cyprus.  

Unfortunately, this obvious Turkish propaganda is being reproduced uncritically in Cyprus and Greece. At the same time, however, it is also a good example of the calculating way in which one Turkish regime after another promote their interests over time. And they do this with absolutely no effective response and counter-propaganda from Cyprus. Successive Cyprus governments have been lying prostrate, allowing Ankara to roll over them with their conquest narrative. Against a backward, bullying neighbour what causes this paralysis is beyond any logic.



by John Helmer, Moscow



Computer programmes used in universities to detect student plagiarism, along with semantic, style, and cognitive tests, reveal that Putin’s People, a book published by HarperCollins and bylined Catherine Belton, has another author or authors.

Comparison testing of the vocabulary of Belton’s book and of transcripts of podcasts when Belton has been interviewed by Russia experts show that her vocabulary shrinks by more than half – 56.2% — when she is asked to explain her story to the experts. The testing also reveals that when requested for evidence and examples from her book, she hesitates, filling the gap with three  phrases repeated many times over — “sort of”, “kind of”, “you know”.  

The machine testing also reveals that Belton fails to pronounce  the name of Mikhail Khodorkovsky,  the Russian oligarch Belton met, interviewed and reported more than any other during her fourteen years in Moscow, with a linguistic consistency which the transcription programme  recognised in more than 24% of her mentions. For three-quarters of the time Belton’s pronunciation of Khodorkovsky  is transcribed by the programme as “Otto Karski”, “Photo Kowski”, and several other variants.

Lawsuits are currently underway in London’s High Court; these charge Belton and her book publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins, with fabricating facts and libelling the Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Igor Sechin, and the Rosneft oil company, which Sechin runs.

The court filings, and now the new evidence, have added to the controversy at the Pushkin House organisation in London. There Belton’s book has been a contender for the annual prize for best non-fiction book on Russia. The faking alleged in the current  lawsuits and admitted by HarperCollins in an out of court settlement with Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven of Alfa Bank,   has already upset some members of the book prize panel, triggering repeated postponements of the book prize short list and the final award decision.  Discovery of the role of Alexei Navalny in giving large sums of money to Pushkin House for promotion of his political campaigns has upset others connected to Pushkin House

According to Russians who heard Belton in a Pushkin House presentation of her book on October 11, “she was continually mispronouncing” the name of Sergei Pugachev, the name of the most frequently cited Russian source for the book’s allegations against President Vladimir Putin. Pugachev has been adjudicated in the British courts to be a serial liar and he is on the run from a British jail sentence. Belton identifies Pugachev 599 times in the 873-page book.

Asked this month at Pushkin House to say why she had relied on such “unreliable narrators”, Belton claimed she had “documentary material” not in the book. “I can’t go into detail of what some of that documentary material,” she claimed, “because we have pending litigation about that.”

Evidence of cribbing and ghosting is now likely to trigger fresh controversy on the prize panel, which has scheduled its announcement of the book winner at a London ceremony on October 28.  



Translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow

In official testimony to the European Parliament last week, the European Union Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, attacked Russia for “exacerbating the tight [supply] balance” and thus causing “the rising prices”.

Responding to allegations against Gazprom, Simson promised an investigation. “We are looking into this claim, through our competition angles…. Better response to any type of speculation and market manipulations is another area where I believe we should assess our options for action.”

Simson is an Estonian politician who has made a public career of drawing votes from Russian-speaking Estonians. She has failed in efforts to replace her party’s leader and former prime minister, Edgar Savisaar.

Simson is a wealthy politician. The current report to the European Union (EU) of Simson’s financial interests,  dated this past January, is a near-total blank,  except for three apartments she owns  in Tallinn, plus a garage, in which she and her family do not live themselves; they live elsewhere, but not with her former husband,  Priit Simson. He is a journalist at an Estonian daily newspaper; he specializes in the study of what he calls “extremist movements in the Russian-speaking population in Estonia.”   

For an expert Russian response to Simson’s report to the EU, Vzglyad, the online Moscow analytical newspaper, published this piece by Olga Samofalova yesterday. Read on.



By John Helmer, Moscow

On the subject of Russia and the Russians, American exceptionalism pops up in the most unexpected places.

Take the case of a new book from the Russia-warfighting publisher Random House of New York fetchingly sub-titled “In which four Russians give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life”. The Guardian, lead Russia-warfighter in London, managed to review the book as “a delight”, but it avoided mentioning the word “Russia” even once.  The New York Times, perpetrator of every propaganda line the Russiagate plotters and Kremlin regime changers want to see in print, managed  the word “Russian” three times in its review of the new book,  but consigned it to the 19th century, safely locked up by reference to Vladimir Nabokov’s “classic lectures on Russian literature, first delivered at Cornell.”

Now forest rangers may refer to the particular tree in the wood on which their dogs choose to urinate.  But in the history of modern Russian literature the place in upstate New York where Nabokov was paid to deliver himself of his opinions before he fled to Switzerland for life is quite unexceptional — except to the New York Times. In the upstate New York forest, Nabokov’s Cornell tree is just one hour’s driving south of the tree at Syracuse where the author George Saunders (lead image) has produced his book on the four Russian guides to life. No dog, no tree in Saunders’ title, but plenty of relieving liquid – “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain”.

What makes Saunders the master in the “master class” is spelled out in the reviews. His lectures to undergraduates on creative fiction are “top-ranked”; another book of his won a Pulitzer prize for fiction; also a Booker prize; he’s been on a best-seller list; there is a “rack of National Magazine Awards”; and he has been given a “genius grant” by the MacArthur Foundation. In short, this is a master situated squarely in the American marketplace, and advantageously at that. Russia is his latest selling-point, a barker’s come-on.  

About that place and its people far away, Saunders claims on page 6 to know nothing – “I’m not a critic or a literary historian or an expert on Russian literature or any of that.” At the same time – actually two pages earlier, on page 4 – Saunders had already declared he knows quite enough. The lessons from Russia he selected for his story-telling are “resistance literature, written by progressive reformers in a repressive culture under constant threat of censorship, in a time when a writer’s politics could lead to exile, imprisonment, and execution”.

Phew! That relieves Saunders of the Russian pain in his pants as he approached his exceptional upstate New York tree.  But he’s gotten too close — too many dogs, too much liquid in the roots, a gust of wind, and the tree is keeling over. Look out! Timberrr! Exceptionalist American fiction writer has been topped by log of Russian truth.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

A stitch in time saves nine. That’s what police and prosecutors used to say when they were in hot pursuit of criminals. Hot pursuit used to mean no waiting.  

However, the Metropolitan Police (lead image, left) took three years before announcing that Denis Sergeyev (alias Sergei Fedotov), a Russian military intelligence officer (right), is the third suspect in the alleged Novichok attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. That took place on March 4, 2018, allegedly. Six months later, the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally announced their indictments of two men, Alexander Petrov (Alexander Mishkin)  and Ruslan Boshirov (Anatoly Chepiga), on September 5,  2018. The police acted simultaneously with the prosecutors; their timing also coincided with the announcement to parliament by Prime Minister Theresa May.

The police evidence, declared May, “has enabled the independent Crown Prosecution Service to conclude they have a sufficient basis on which to bring charges against these two men for the attack in Salisbury.”  

“We have obtained a European Arrest Warrant and will shortly issue an Interpol red notice,” May added in her speech to the House of Commons.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS, announced at the same time: “A realistic prospect of conviction means the CPS is satisfied on an objective assessment that the evidence can be used in court and that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury hearing the case, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict these two individuals of the charges… We will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of these men as the Russian constitution does not permit extradition of its own nationals… We have, however, obtained a European Arrest Warrant which means that if either man travels to a country where an EAW is valid, they will be arrested and face extradition on these charges for which there is no statute of limitations.”

Hemming said nothing about an Interpol Red Notice; Interpol confirms none was issued for either Russian.   

Fast forward – no, wait, make that slow-motion forward, until September 21, 2021, when Dean Haydon, a deputy assistant commissioner at the Met, announced he is charging Sergeyev (Fedotov) with the same attempted murder by Novichok.  The police had delayed for three years. The CPS for longer. In fact, as the CPS has now officially admitted, it hasn’t charged the third man with anything, yet.



By John Helmer, Moscow

German clinical evidence of Alexei Navalny’s chronic use of lithium and benzodiazepine drugs before his sensational collapse last year is being withheld and covered up by the Berlin doctors who obtained the evidence from testing a sample of Navalny’s hair.

The significance of the hair testing was identified this month by an expert toxicologist employed by the British government.  “[It] would be interesting,” he said, requesting his name not be released, “to see the hair test as this will reflect only the drugs given up to six days and more earlier in Russia.”

Dr Kai-Uwe Eckardt, the head of the team of German doctors treating Navalny in Berlin’s Charité University Hospital, reported publicly last December that “a hair sample obtained on day 4 confirmed the presence of several of the compounds detected in blood and urine.” Day-4 in Berlin meant August 24, four days after Navalny alleges he was poisoned in Tomsk by Novichok on orders of the Kremlin. Navalny’s allegation was endorsed by the German, British and US governments on the evidence, they said at the time, of Navalny’s tests in Germany.

This allegation was repeated last week at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.  According to an October 5 statement by a group of OPCW member governments,  “it is now more than a year since Mr Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent whilst travelling in Russia. The OPCW Technical Secretariat confirmed, following a Technical Assistance Visit to Germany, that Mr Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent from the Novichok group. This is a matter of grave concern.”

Led by Germany, the UK and US, the governments also charged that “the Russian Federation has not yet provided a credible explanation of the incident that took place on its soil.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded two days later, on October 7,  charging the accusers of “inconsistencies, contradictions, misinformation, shady developments that have yet to be clarified, insinuations at the highest political level and outright lies professed by the West… a provocation, crudely planned and coarsely executed by the special services of some Western countries.” 

The significance of the hair sample testing by the German doctors  is that the results corroborate lithium and benzodiazepine drug use in Navalny’s blood and urine found on his arrival in Berlin.

An independent British toxicologist adds that the levels of the drugs in the hair testing would also confirm Navalny’s dependence on these drugs in Russia, well before he arrived in Tomsk and long before the Novichok “incident” alleged at OPCW last week. “Without seeing the actual hair analysis report, we are guessing which specific drugs and compounds were common to the blood and urine and hair. The hair ones are all pre-attack compounds. If ‘several’ drugs were in the hair, as the Berlin report says, then Navalny would be described as a chronic abuser. That,  plus his multiple bacterial infections the Berlin report also identifies,  would make the trained professional clinician looking at the data believe that the patient was a down-at-heel street person with a serious drug problem and mental health issues.”

Medical psychiatrists and toxicologists acknowledge that the “cocktail” combination of drugs Navalny had been taking before he collapsed on August 20 may explain his subsequent symptoms and the cause of his collapse. Lithium, according to the British government  toxicologist reporting last week, “would not be detected by normal drug screening and must have been indicated for some reason to cause them [the Charité hospital doctors] to carry out as a special, targeted test. It would be interesting to know why it was tested for and the blood concentration – were the Russians treating [Navalny] for a bipolar disorder?”

Eckardt was asked to explain his reason for testing Navalny for  lithium and benzodiazepines. He was also asked what specific compounds were detected in the Day-4 hair sample testing he directed. Eckardt refused to answer, or to provide what OPCW called last week “a credible explanation”.



By John Helmer, Moscow

When it came to ingratiating American presidents, no Russian leader tried harder than Mikhail Gorbachev followed by Boris Yeltsin. Vladimir Putin did his best to match their examples with Bill Clinton.   Putin was slow to learn, slower to anger. That began in 2008 when Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, broke a promise after taking a bribe to allow the Kremlin to buy the Opel car division in Germany from General Motors.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

Investigations by US government officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), of Christopher Steele’s (lead image, right) Russiagate dossier have identified Catherine Belton (left) as one of the targets for his fabrications. Belton was herself investigated as one of the journalists Steele recruited to plant his allegations of Russian interference days before the 2016 presidential election.

In her book Putin’s People, Belton repeats many of Steele’s allegations but she does not cite him or his consulting company Orbis as her source. Belton adds at the end of the book: “I’ll always be grateful to Chris [Steele] for his moral support.” After Belton’s book appeared in April 2020, Steele admitted to lawyers engaged in a London High Court lawsuit against him that Belton is “a friend, yes, she’s a friend”.

Fresh evidence revealed in the indictment issued by the US Department of Justice on September 16, shows that the FBI has concluded Steele was lying when he and  his American accomplices  planted false allegations of Russian election interference through several named intermediaries, including a Russian bank and Russian émigrés in the US,. The New York Times and The Atlantic were identified in last month’s US court papers as willing outlets for the fabrications. Earlier litigation by the Alfa Bank group in the US has identified five New York Times reporters and David Corn of Mother Jones as collaborators in the scheme.

Belton’s name, tagged with the note “London meeting”, has also surfaced in meeting notes taken at the State Department on October 11, 2016, when Steele met with Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland and a deputy, Kathleen Kavalec.  Kavalec’s meeting notes, partially declassified, reveal that Steele’s allegations of Russian election interference followed a briefing of the same allegations at the FBI a month earlier, on September 19, 2016,  by Michael Sussmann, a lawyer working in secret for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  Sussmann is now charged with lying then to the FBI.

The Justice Department’s indictment says Sussmann was one of the plotters with Steele and others, including journalists, university academics, and IT experts in publishing false stories of Russian election interference; their plot aimed at hurting the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, by making it appear he was in cahoots with the Kremlin to hurt the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

“In or about late October 2016 – approximately one week before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election – multiple media outlets reported that U.S. government authorities had received and were investigating allegations concerning a purported secret channel of communications between the Trump Organization, owned by Donald J. Trump, and a particular Russian bank (‘Russian Bank-I’).”

The Kavalec notebook also reveals that Steele claimed there were “3 distinct channels” for this Russian operation “run by Kremlin, not FSB, Ivanov, Peskov, Putin.”  In addition to accusing Alfa Bank as the first channel “Alfa-Trump-Kremlin-comms”, Steele told Nuland that Serge Millian, a Russian émigré businessman in the US, was the second; Carter Page, a wannabe Trump campaign adviser, was the third.

In the sequence of Kavalec’s notes. Steele told Nuland there were “hackers out of R[ussia] – acting in US – [payments out of the state] pension fund Miami consulate payments – implants. Operations Paige [sic], Millian (émigrés?), Manafort.”  Steele then mentioned the London meeting with Belton whom he identified as “FT [Financial Times]”.  

Reporting by Belton in the Financial Times followed days after her meeting was mentioned by Steele to Nuland.  In  Belton’s published report, she named Serge Millian as the channel Steele had alleged at State and the FBI. “Now, “ Belton claimed on November 1, one week before Election Day,  “the US administration has formally accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the US electoral process through the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email servers, Mr Millian’s activities — and his ties to the Republican presidential nominee — are coming under increasing scrutiny.” Belton did not identify her sources for her allegations against Millian. She implied, however, that they were US intelligence agents and the FBI.  “Mr Millian came on to the FBI’s radar”, Belton reported. “The FBI probe was part of a wake-up call for US intelligence over suspicions that Russia was activating networks long thought defunct after the end of the cold war.”

Millian avoided Belton for an interview and she reported. “He declined repeated requests for an interview and left the US for Asia on a business trip in early October.” Two weeks before, Steele had told Nuland, according to Kavalec’s transcript, Millian was “now in China.”

According to Belton, Millian had been a real estate broker for Trump, selling Trump organisation properties to Russians. Steele had told Nuland “real estate entities used for massive set of purchases by Russians. Set up espionage network in FL[orida] – to buy a lot of properties for POTUS [Trump’s] businesses through a R[ussian] brokage. 100’s of real estate transactions.”

Two months ago, on July 28, Belton was exposed as a liar and fabricator of her source material by her British publisher, HarperCollins.  Settling the High Court case brought against them both by Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven of Alfa Bank, the publisher said there was “no significant evidence” for Belton’s allegations of KGB connections in the early careers of Fridman and Aven; and that she had failed to check her claims with Fridman and Aven before publishing them. The publisher agreed to delete Belton’s allegations from the book.

The terms of that settlement, and the ongoing High Court case in London, have stopped Macmillan, the US publisher of the book, from issuing the paperback edition, according to industry sources.



By Liane Theuerkauf, Munich, with introduction & illustrations by John Helmer, Moscow

On September 22, 2021, Dame Heather Hallett, the coroner appointed by the British government to conduct an inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, held a second hearing in court in London.  Sturgess died in Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018, from what Hallett has already announced to be Novichok poisoning from a Russian military attack.

The full transcript of what Hallett said can be read here.  Analysis of the proceedings recommended skepticism towards the veracity and intentions of Hallett and the lawyers testifying in court. Read for more detail.   

Hallett has proposed putting an end to the proceeding under the Coroners and Justice Act of 2009 and the British legal rules which apply to an inquest in a coronial court. These require a jury, in addition to the coroner, when “the death was caused by a notifiable accident, poisoning or disease”. The rules also require that evidence should be presented and witnesses testify in open court for cross-examination by lawyers and for public accountability. Instead of this, Hallett decided last month that a public inquiry will be substituted in which she alone will decide what evidence and witnesses to take in secret, and what secrets to keep out of the public record.

Hallett and the lawyers for the British government and police say this inquiry isn’t likely to open for another two years. In the meantime, the police say they will be assembling the evidence which they believe may be open to public scrutiny, and the evidence which may not. After three years of investigation of the Sturgess case, and also of the cases of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, allegedly poisoned by Novichok fifteen weeks before Sturgess;  and following police announcements of criminal indictments of three Russian military intelligence agents, this new police effort is code-named Operation VERBASCO.

In the meantime, Hallett’s statements and those of Michael Mansfield, Sturgess’s advocate in court, invite a series of questions. Not a single policeman, prosecutor, pathologist, lawyer, member of parliament, or forensic expert in the United Kingdom has thought to ask them, at least not yet and not in public. To anticipate and to assist them, therefore, read Hallett’s statements in italics; the questions follow in bold.



By John Helmer, Moscow

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



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

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



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

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.



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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