THE CASE OF IGOR TARAKANOV WHO SHOT DOWN MH17 BEFORE SHOOTING HIMSELF IN THE FOOT

Igor Tarakanov is a Russian soldier.  

He first appeared publicly two weeks ago, on November 17, to say he had escorted a battery of Russian Army BUK missiles from Russia into Ukraine early in the month of July 2014; that was days before Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was downed and destroyed on July 17, 2014.

Tarakanov’s claim contradicts everything known for seven years and made public by the US National Intelligence Council, State Department and White House;  the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security  Service (MIVD);  the Russian Defence Ministry;  the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) headed by Dutch police; Dutch prosecutors at the murder trial which opened in Schiphol in March 2020; the presiding judge at the trial Hendrik Steenhuis, and his secret investigating judges; the Dutch lawyers defending the  Russian Army officer in the dock;  and the agency in charge of all evidence  in the prosecution’s case file,  the Ukrainian Security Service SBU.

Tarakanov is an unusual name Russians aren’t keen to have. It means cockroach. As insects go, these are very ancient – about 350 million years – very hardy, very numerous.  There is no evidence that soldier Igor Tarakanov exists – except for a publication in English by the Bellingcat group two weeks ago, and in Russian at the same time by a related publication,  The Insider.

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BRITISH HIGH COURT JUDGE RULES AGAINST CATHERINE BELTON, HARPERCOLLINS IN DOUBLE-BARRELED BLAST

By John Helmer, Moscow
 @bears_with

A High Court judge in London has ruled sharply against Catherine Belton and Rupert Murdoch’s book publisher HarperCollins dismissing their principal lines of defence against a multi-million pound case for libel by Roman Abramovich and the Russian state oil company Rosneft.

Yesterday, in two detailed examinations of Belton’s allegations of a corrupt conspiracy masterminded by President Vladimir Putin and implemented by Abramovich, Rosneft and others,   Justice Amanda Tipples (lead image) dismissed the publisher’s case that Belton had been justified in reporting opinions from named or anonymous sources.  The judge’s rulings cast doubt on the credibility of Belton’s sources, requiring lawyers for the defence to show in trial next year that Belton’s reporting proves the truth of her “statements of fact”.  This sets the stage for one of the largest and most expensive court tests of truth and faking in the Anglo-American war against Russia.

Worse for Belton and HarperCollins, Tipples ruled that their allegation that Rosneft had created a fake transaction to bribe Putin with $300 million is a statement of fact which Belton is unlikely to be able to prove in the witness box on oath and under cross-examination. Tipples dismissed Belton’s method of using sources whose “denials do not provide any antidote to the information provided by Mr Kondaurov or the anonymous source.”

“This is a big blow to the anti-Russian propaganda that’s the basis for the US and European sanctions war”, a New York attorney with multinational clients comments. “It will have a bigger impact than the recent Justice Department Russiagate indictments exposing sources connected to the secret services whose lies to the media and FBI are going to land them in jail.”

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RUSSIA HATRED ON THE OLIGARCH’S TAB – THE PECULIAR CASE OF EVGENY DOBRENKO AND MIKHAIL PROKHOROV



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Evgeny Dobrenko (lead image, left) is a letter-perfect demonstration of several things he appears, despite years of learning at universities from Odessa to Durham (North Carolina) and Sheffield (Yorkshire), not to have heard of.  

In the academic world, like any other business, it’s the money which does the talking, pays the piper, calls the tune.  Upward mobility it is called less musically by sociologists. That means ambition fulfilled – promotion up the professorial ranks,  rising wages,  bonuses, and holiday trips which require conformity and usually a kindly attitude towards the world in return for more of its rewards.  

Downward mobility is the reverse – ambition blocked, wages declining, unkindliness toward  those individuals, institutions and states which are blamed for the individual’s fate and resented for his obscurity.   Evgeny Dobrenko blames Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Putin.

Starting with a surname from the Russian word meaning kind,  Dobrenko has suffered grievously from them.  He started well enough, upward for a Jewish boy from  provincial Odessa   to the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow,  a creation of the first flush of Boris Yeltsin’s administration and of Americans arriving to dismantle the Soviet state, army, banking system, and culture. Born a decade after Stalin’s death, Dobrenko managed only two years in Moscow before moving to Durham, where the university called Duke is situated. The years flew by with fellowships promising promotion and employment at more prestigious places that didn’t materialise. Dobrenko got his taste for the feast, but not a tenured seat at the table.  As he dropped professionally  downward, he took jobs at Nottingham, then Sheffield university. It was from there Dobrenko, a US citizen, has been watching Putin from afar. Between Stalin and Putin Dobrenko has detected no difference at all.

The explanation for this is also Dobrenko’s apology for himself. “The Soviet state”, he concludes, “magnified the flaws of the Russian Middle Ages… after a short pause [Yeltsin] Russia returned with such irrevocable readiness to the same fantasies of imperial grandeur and phantom pains… The country created by Stalin did not escape this past which has remained as its present. Putin’s Russia returned… in a natural fashion to late – but still not bygone – Stalinism”.

The “phantom pains”, Dobrenko explains, include “anti-liberalism, anti-modernism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism… inflicted on the country, just as any autocrat transforms his personal complexes into a national agenda (such a link can be easily traced in Putin’s Russia)”.

This is conventional Russia hating and war propaganda except for an unusual twist —    Dobrenko is the director at the University of Sheffield  of the Prokhorov Centre for the Study of Central and Eastern European Intellectual and Cultural History. Named by the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and created with money from Prokhorov’s Moscow foundation in 2014, the University of Sheffield didn’t announce the philanthropy then or since. University officials refused this week to disclose how much money Prokhorov paid seven years ago and continues to pay today. According to the Centre website, its “strategic priority” is to address “the ideological bases for conflict and barriers to cooperation and the bridges that have been built, and could be built, towards greater understanding and collaboration.”  

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WHO RUNS THE RUSSIAN FILM BUSINESS AND WHAT THEY ARE DRIVING AT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Remember the ten plagues of Pharaonic Egypt – the Israelites capitalised and made their getaway to a happy ending. The story has turned into several blockbuster movies and tons of popcorn have been consumed watching them.   

There have been two plagues on the Russian film industry, but one is permanent, and there is no escape, no happy ending, no popcorn. This is the story of how the plague of money – from the state budget, oligarch groups, and state banks – is saving the film studios and cinemas from death by coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the story of scandal and corruption around the state financing system that is killing Russian audience demand. This is a blockbuster no Russian director, studio producer, cinema operator, or even film critic dares to present in public.

There is another scandal no one in the industry acknowledges.  This is the role of the state-directed Gazprom group which acts as import agent and cinema distributor for the Hollywood studios. Counting all films which have taken more than $5 million at the Russian box office over the past fifteen years, the US hits out-number the Russian, 532 to 172. That’s a ratio of three to one.

For the time being, the state banks now shielding the cinema chains from bankruptcy see the marketing of Hollywood films as their guarantee of getting their money back with profit.    

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THIS IS WHERE I CAME IN – RUSSIAN POETRY AND POLITICS

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Russian poets are hardly the only ones to think they are irresistible on account of what comes out of their mouths.

The two I’ve known best, Yevgeny Yevtushenko (lead image, right) of Irkutsk and Ted Hughes of Yorkshire, were irrepressible on the point, which helps account for some of the fatuities in their poems.

It’s well-known that of the ancient Latin greats, Ovid had a laughably large nose. I suppose Catullus must have been just as ugly for his inamorata, Clodia Metelli, not to fall for his compositions. So it seems the more beautiful the poetry, the uglier the poet. Byron thought himself the exception, but wasn’t. Cavafy didn’t think so, but was.

Yevtushenko, the Russian poet who was more popular in his day than any other before or since, was quite sensitive about his nose.

When he was a teenager he “discovered in my nose if not ugliness at least some obvious duckliness. For a while I almost stopped writing poetry and wasted a huge amount of time manipulating no less than two mirrors investigating the configuration of my nose with the fragile hope that this, not the best part of my face, would improve as I asked in my prayers. But, my nose tragically refused. Having lost all hope for it I began step by step to try to adjust to my own profile. It was an additional waste of time. Only when someone’s shy lips whispered three magic words to me — and you can guess what they were — did I finally forget about this nasal problem. Until this moment I live in the pleasant illusion that I am not so ugly as to have to commit suicide.”

By the time he said that in 1994, Yevtushenko, who of course had read Gogol’s story of the man whose nose ran away from him, was kidding. Yevtushenko knew very well how he attracted women. He also knew that by then it wasn’t the poems that did the trick. Also, by then he had come to the realisation there was no place for him, nose or poetry, in the Russia which had succeeded the Soviet Union. So he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is where he was when he died aged 84 on April 1, 2017.

He was taken to Moscow for burial. Representing the state at the funeral was Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the most powerful figure in the country after the President Vladimir Putin. What Yevtushenko would have resented about that was that Putin didn’t appear in person.

For his burial Yevtushenko scored another career goal. His grave is beside Boris Pasternak’s, a writer and poet Yevtushenko thought, and said publicly, was an inferior and a mediocrity.    In the end, Russian politics has reduced the two of them to the same level in the ground – except that as he went down,  Yevtushenko demonstrated he understood Russian politics much better, and the discreditable role the Russian intelligentsia usually plays —  before the Revolution, during Stalin, during Yeltsin, nowadays.  Yevtushenko said so; Pasternak didn’t dare.

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FILLING IN THE BLANKS IN THE DANCHENKO INDICTMENT – CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On November 7-8, this website published a report on what the indictment of Igor Danchenko by the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Special Counsel John Durham didn’t mean, and what consequences it was unlikely to have.  The title was: Does the US Government really intend to make lying about Russia a crime?  The question was more than rhetorical, it was ironical.

In the days following, more evidence has been published which fills out the blanks in that report, also heaping irony upon irony.  This work provides fresh evidence about individuals;  organisations; a trail of urine from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Moscow; money trails and plots which the Danchenko indictment masks with anonymous tags, overlooks,  or conceals deliberately.

Research and detective work by Liane Theuerkauf in Munich, Stephen McIntyre and his ClimateAudit website in Canada,  Marcy Wheeler and her EmptyWheel blog in Houston,  Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller in Washington, DC, and others deserve to be expanded here and followed up. They are instructive; Aaron Maté and his Grayzone colleagues,  Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Jimmy Dore ignore or misrepresent this research while trying to sell you false scoops they attribute to themselves.

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NO HANDCUFFS, NO NOVICHOK — EU CONFIRMS THERE ARE NO EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANTS — BRITISH PROSECUTORS CAUGHT LYING

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

British government officials. state prosecutors,  and police have lied repeatedly in announcements over the past three years that they have issued European Arrest Warrants charging three Russian military officers with attempted murder using the Novichok chemical weapon against targets in England.

The three Russians have been named in official British press releases as Alexander Petrov (also known as Alexander Mishkin); Ruslan Boshirov (Anatoly Chepiga); and Denis Sergeyev (Sergei Fedotov – lead image).

This week a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London declared: “I can confirm that European Arrest Warrants have been issued for all three suspects.” Asked for proof, a senior CPS official refused, announcing: “We have nothing further to add.”

In The Hague, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) administers the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) scheme and maintains the database of all EAWs requested by the UK and issued for circulation to the European states. The Eurojust spokesman, Ton van Lierop, was asked this week to confirm details of the EAWs which the British claim to have obtained for the three Russians. Van Lierop replied:  “we have not found any records of the cases mentioned.”

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DOES THE US GOVERNMENT REALLY INTEND TO MAKE LYING ABOUT RUSSIA A CRIME?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

There are two kinds of lies about Russia.

Not white or black; neither the Big Lie nor the small one. Those are differences between what’s true and what’s false.

In our war-fighting world the real difference between lies is whom you tell your Russia lie to. This is according to the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the indictments they have composed against Michael Sussmann (lead image, left) and Igor Danchenko (centre).  

Their lies were told in aid of, and in hope of reward from Hillary Clinton. Among the rewards which one Russian, their Russian sub-source number 1,  told them in exchange for his lies were Clinton’s autograph and a promise “to take me off to the State Department [to handle] issues of the former USSR and then we’ll see who is looking good and who is not.”

Five years after their lies started, it is now the official position of the US Government that these conmen invented the story of Donald Trump’s Golden Showers on the bed in the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow.  In the interval, the gullibility of the government and lawlessness of the liars they engaged have demonstrated for all to see who is looking good now and who is not.

Alternatively, the five-year interval and the indictments of Sussmann and Danchenko demonstrate nothing of the sort. This is because much bigger lies about Russia remain the official policy of the US Government. They are on trial in the High Court of London where the liars are Catherine Belton (right) and Rupert Murdoch’s publishing outlet, HarperCollins.  

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LE CARRÉ’S LAST MI6 FICTION FAILS – CAN THE REAL MI6 BE FAR BEHIND?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

When David Cornwell (aka John Le Carré) died after a bathroom fall last December, the current chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (aka MI6), Richard Moore, announced by tweet that Cornwell had been “a giant of literature who left his mark on MI6 through his evocative and brilliant novels”.  By mark, Moore didn’t mean blot.

On October 21, the last of the Le Carré novels was published. Called “Silverview”, it starts with a whopping mistake on the first line. It continues making mistakes until the last page where the final words Le Carré wrote were: “and that’s the last secret I’ll keep from you”. The publisher has followed with twelve blank pages. No mistaking them – they are Le Carré’s evocation of the state of mind inside the Service from Moore down.  

Not a secret he can keep from you. Nor a mistake by Le Carré.

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CAN THE ANGLO-AMERICAN WARFIGHTERS SHOOT STRAIGHT – BRITISH COURT TO DECIDE; GORILLA RADIO COUNTS THE CASUALTIES



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Russia bunker-buster information bomb, Catherine Belton’s (lead image) Putin’s People, proved to be a dud at a London ceremony last week.  In its award for the best non-fiction book about Russia for 2020, Pushkin House announced the winner was a retiring Oxford don whose “long and distinguished career” had displayed  “wisdom and insight.”  

Despite lobbying by Belton’s supporters and the publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins, Belton’s book was relegated.  Pushkin House doesn’t have a prize for fiction about Russia.

Sources familiar with the book prize review believe that HarperCollins’s recent acknowledgement of fabrication and unprofessional conduct by Belton in an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit by Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven,  and ongoing lawsuits from Roman Abramovich and Rosneft in London’s High Court,  cast  doubt on the veracity of the book and of the author. After accepting a donation from Alexei Navalny in 2018, and a sharp fall in investment income last year, Pushkin House’s trustees and donors decided they could not afford to risk fresh political controversy.

The High Court case against Belton and HarperCollins is continuing. If it proceeds to a full hearing of witnesses and evidence, with appeals, London lawyers estimate it will cost all sides about £100 million. The risk of penalty damages and cost indemnity judgement against HarperCollins doubles the potential cost to a figure roughly equal to last year’s accumulated earnings for the publishing company, $303 million (£220 million).   

But last week, in a fresh signal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is concerned at the financial losses British exporters and investors are paying for Whitehall’s information war against the Kremlin, he told President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call “the UK’s current relationship with Russia is not the one we want.”  In the matching Kremlin communiqué, Putin said he and Johnson “expressed the shared opinion that, despite obvious problems, it is necessary to establish cooperation between Moscow and London in a number of areas.”  

The “obvious problem”, both understand, is the faction of British government, military and secret service officials who are running the information war, continuing their engagement in the Skripal and Navalny Novichok operations.  But official support for Belton’s book is waning, sources close to the High Court case believe.  It is likely to weaken further as new evidence and witnesses appear, and as defence lawyers worry that Belton will be unable to withstand cross-examination in court.

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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.

(more…)
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