By John Helmer, Moscow

There can be no sating the hatred for Russia and Russians which is visceral for Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State; and foams at the mouth of Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary. They are the Blin-Needle gang.  They hate with the dedication and derangement of blood-feuding tribals.  

They can’t be stopped except by force matching their own, and by fear of defeat for themselves. For the defeat of those they recruit to fight for them, they care not a whit.  Likewise, their verbal promises and written agreements.

In this month of December 2021, the thirtieth anniversary of the revolution which replaced the Soviet Union in Moscow with Boris Yeltsin’s government,  that revolution has come to its final end because the Blin-Needle gang have gone too far.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began the month with this categorical – “gone too far”,   The month is ending on President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoricals: “Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat…Is anyone unable to grasp this? This should be clear.”  

That everything is so clear is something to celebrate for the next fortnight of holidays. It’s also necessary to ensure that this very new year will be a less dangerous one for Russia, and Europe too.  Clarity of purpose, energy for action – that’s what the winter holiday is for. To this end, Russians, like the Irish and the British, have long sworn by the restorative energy of porridge for breakfast and pudding for supper. On New Year’s Eve I shall be eating Kasha gurievskaya (lead image, centre).

Guriev’s Pudding is a dessert that has a salutary history. Count Dmitry Guriev (1758-1823) was a court and cabinet factotum for Tsar Alexander I; then his finance minister when cleverer men than he was needed someone else to take the blame for increased taxes. A contemporary wrote of  Guriev that he “was never good or smart; only at that time was he young, fresh, hefty, white and blush.” As you also see (right), a hefty eater. And so Guriev has gone down in Russian history as the man who ate so much pudding his name has stuck to it. For it had happened one St. Petersburg evening that the count was visiting a subordinate for dinner, and when it came to dessert, he asked for second and third helpings. So keen he was, he asked his host for the recipe, but was politely refused. Later, he sent a message to his host’s chef, and paid him to leave his employer and move into Guriev’s kitchen. Russian history doesn’t record the names of the host or the chef – only Guriev, the pudding thief.

Here is how Russians cook Kasha gurievskaya today, and what it will look like on my table on New Year’s Eve.   After that, there will be dancing to the Grande Chaconne.

Years ago, I told the story  of that piece of music, the dance which Louis XIV, the sun king of France and creator of the splendour of Versailles, regarded as his favourite. Its composer was Marin Marais, the son of a shoemaker in a family of roofers. Here’s that story again.

Marin Marais playing the viola da gamba across his knee.  For an introduction to his music and his time, watch the film of 1991, Tous Les Matins du Monde.  

By the time Marais first came to Louis’s notice, more than a decade had passed since the king had decided never again to dance himself in the ballets staged by his court musicians and choreographers. Marais’s dances were therefore written to be played to the king, occasionally to be performed in front of him by professional dancers,  and most often to be played and danced by the music-reading public in their own homes, outside the royal court. Thus, the chaconne is intimate and personal on the one hand, stately and majestic on the other. The combination doesn’t appear again in European music or home entertainment until the waltz of the 19th century. As he sank towards his death, Louis asked more and more for the chaconne to be played to him.

It wasn’t for dancing that Peter the Great had tried for years to be received at Versailles by Louis XIV. But for as long as he lived, the French king rebuffed him. Louis died in 1715, and at the end of 1716 the Regent, who ruled France on behalf of Louis’s six-year old successor Louis XV, reluctantly agreed to Peter’s visit. The reason for the reluctance, explained the Duc de Saint-Simon, the Regent’s private advisor, was that Peter was understood to be seeking a closer alliance with France at the expense of England. The Regent, a weak man under the sway of his pro-English advisors, didn’t want to arouse England’s King George I.

Saint-Simon, who favored a Russian alliance against the English, records in great detail the visit to France of Peter in May and June of 1717. Saint-Simon lacked no sympathy for the tsar, and watched his every move in hope – he wrote much later – that he would “detach us from our servitude to England”. His observations also leave an unvarnished record of Peter’s demeanour. According to Saint-Simon, “everyone marveled at the tsar’s insatiable curiosity about everything that had any bearing on his views of government, commerce, education, police methods, etc.”

As for music, Peter was, unlike Louis, indifferent. He asked the Regent for a mug of beer to keep him going at a performance at the opera; and he left early. According to Saint-Simon, Peter “showed very little interest in objects whose beauty was confined to their value or artistry”. He records that the tsar visited gardens and factories, inspected troops and fortifications, ate a great many dinners, but danced at no balls. The only thing Saint-Simon recorded him as doing with women was an orgy on the evening of May 25. “It did not suit the tsar or his staff to restrain themselves in any way,” it was noted.

Saint-Simon’s story recounts, not only that the tsar brought his own Russian sexual partners in addition to his wife, but he set the former up in the apartment of Louis XIV’s wife, Madame de Maintenon who had moved into a convent after Louis’s death. There Peter insisted on meeting her after he had taken over her bed at Versailles (prequel of a more recent story). Peter’s story is retold here, minus the Russian politics, substance and symbol, of what happened.  Then, as now, the Russian strategy was to detach the French from their alliance with the English.  Peter’s behaviour with Louis’s widow was intended to show publicly that the English alliance was also moribund.  

It was Saint-Simon’s custom to describe physical features as clues to the character of those he observed in his years at the French court. Thus, Peter is reported as displaying “a kind of nervous tic that contorted his entire face and was most alarming; it lasted only a moment, accompanied by a most ferocious stare; then it was gone”. Saint-Simon didn’t report in what circumstances during Peter’s time in Paris the tic appeared. Nor did he speculate about its stimulus. Saint-Simon does report, though, that Peter frequently refused to sleep in the rooms prepared for him, choosing instead camp beds in closets and corridors.

Russian historians differ on whether Peter’s convulsion was more a fit and a family inheritance, than a spasm first brought on when, as a young boy, Peter witnessed his mother’s family being killed during the rebellion (in his favour) of the streltsy (musketeers). Since Peter’s personal cruelty is notorious – Saint-Simon refers only to his appetite for eating, drinking and women – the tic is usually finessed, if mentioned at all in Russian history, as an indication of the stresses on the tsar’s otherwise noble and humane spirit, struggling to contain the even more barbarous conditions around him.

The Soviets had no reason to gloss over the tic, and in the 1940s black and white film Peter I, based on Alexei Tolstoy’s scenario, the tic was made quite visible. It wasn’t hidden either in the colour productions of the 1980s. You might say that, according to Soviet ideology, the tic was a way of showing the contradiction between Peter’s benevolent goals for Russia and his autocratic cruelties in pursuing them.

When Astolphe de Custine, a Paris aristocrat declassed by the revolutionary guillotine, visited St. Petersburg in 1839, his opinion kept oscillating between “admiration [for] an immense city which has sprung from the sea at the bidding of one man”, and the price that was paid. “A taste for edifices without taste,” he concluded. The difference between Versailles and the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage), he noted, was in the thousands of livelihoods sustained by the construction of the former, and the thousands of lives lost during the building of the latter. “Whilst I, though a Frenchman, see nothing but inhuman ostentation in this achievement,” Custine wrote, “not a single protestation is raised from one end of this immense empire to the other against the orgies of absolute power.”

The idea that nowadays Peter and his city have become the symbol of western values in Russia, modernization, anti-communism, Yeltsinite reform – remember he also used to symbolize resistance to such western values as belonged to Karl XII of Sweden and Adolf Hitler – is reason perhaps for celebrating the autocrat. But after 300 years, the tic, too, persists. To ignore it is to be blind.

About St. Petersburg – today, coincidentally, as old as the Grande Chaconne – Custine expressed high hopes, though not for its buildings, nor for its rulers and their manners. “Elsewhere”, he wrote, “great cities abound with monuments raised in memory of the past. St. Petersburg, in all its magnificence and immensity, is a trophy raised by the Russians to the greatness of the future.”

After talking directly with Tsar Nicholas I and the tsarina at a ball in the Winter Palace, Custine describes the dance that climaxed the evening. It was called, he said, a polonaise. “In the palace hundreds of couples thus follow in procession, proceeding from one immense hall to another, winding through the galleries, crossing the drawing rooms, and traversing the whole building in such order or direction as the caprice of the individual who leads may dictate.” For Custine, this dance was the metaphor for Russia’s future. “It is amusing at first, but for those destined to dance it all their lives it is a species of torture.”

The Polish dance is past fashionable. Here, stepping slowly at first then lively, is the Grande Chaconne for the future.   


By John Helmer, Moscow

Nations don’t agree to the instrument of capitulation to their conquerors without turncoat  Quislings, Lavals, or Sadats to sign.  

It happened in Russia, and for the first time on December 21, 2021, in front of the Stavka  and the assembled officers of the Russian armed forces, President Vladimir Putin said so.

“Do you remember how it happened?” he asked them. “All of you are adults. It happened at a time when Russia’s relations with the United States and main member states of NATO were cloudless, if not completely allied. I have already said this in public and will remind you of this again: American specialists were permanently present at the nuclear arms facilities of the Russian Federation. They went to their office there every day, had desks and an American flag. Wasn’t this enough? What else is required? US advisors worked in the Russian Government, career CIA officers gave their advice. What else did they want?”  

Putin did not have to add the names of the Russians who had signed their answer to that question – whatever you want. Their names are Mikhail Gorbachev; Boris Yeltsin; Yegor Gaidar; Anatoly Chubais; Alexei Kudrin.



By John Helmer, Moscow

It is now one year and one month since there was a direct contact with Russia proving that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal, or both, are still alive. That was an hour-long telephone call from Yulia Skripal to her cousin Viktoria Skripal on November 21, 2020.  

There has been no direct evidence from Sergei Skripal himself that he is alive since he telephoned his family home on June 26, 2019.  

Viktoria Skripal told a Moscow press interviewer three months ago that because there was no word from either of them following the death in Yaroslavl of Elena Skripal, Sergei’s mother, on January 7 of this year, she believes they may be dead. “We can assume that they are not alive. Because they knew that their grandmother had died — in any case, we were assured that they had been accurately informed. But there were no condolences, no flowers, none of this from them.”

Reporters from the two Moscow dailies, Moskovsky Komsomlets (MK) and Izvestia, who have been closest to Viktoria, confirm the silence. Alexander Klibanov of MK says he knows of no telephone call or other message from the Skripals this year. “There’s no sign of them,” Nikolai Pozdnyakov of Izvestia adds. He also says there is no definitive proof of their death. “They may be necessary for some new ‘Novichok show’ or something of the sort if the British secret services are going to provide such a thing.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

How to stop the US provocations aimed at pushing Russia to go to war in the Ukraine, and at claiming credit for deterring Russian from doing so? Impossible – the US cannot be stopped. But Germany, the country most likely to suffer the direct effects of war in the Ukraine, can stop the American deployment of nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory.

Will the war start? Silly question – the war won’t start because it has already started, and has been in active use-of-force mode since February 2014 when the US overthrew the Kiev government of President Victor Yanukovich; attempted to take Russian bases in Crimea; and followed in July of that year with the plot to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and trigger a NATO invasion of the Donbass.

Right now on the Ukraine front, Russia will do nothing new; that’s to say, nothing more than it has already done, and is doing. But if and when Germans agree to the Americans deploying nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory, as they have already done in Romania, Poland,  and the Black Sea, then the Stavka in Moscow  will do something no western intelligence agency, think-tank, propagandist, and least of all the Japanese mouth organ known as the Financial Times will  have anticipated.  

For the time being, the Russian assessment is that the US will not make war against Russia directly because it is divided between the Americans who are reluctant, of whom President Joseph Biden is one;  CIA director William Burns another;  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  two more. Gung-ho by contrast are Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lead image, left) and Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State —  the Blin-Needle* gang who are quite recent Americans; their grandparents were Ukrainians.   The Russian assessment is that their anti-Russian violence is in part the outcome of their relatively recent capture of state position.  For the past three generations, and longer, the Blin-Needle gang has been hating and under-estimating the Russians; they think they have made their successful careers, advancing themselves to the top of the US state, by doing so.

Under-estimating the Russians was a mistake the advancing German army commanders made during the first wave of their invasion eighty years ago. They don’t make the same mistake today.  

The Russian tactic, therefore, is to try publicly differentiating the Blin-Needle gang from Biden, Burns, Austin, and Milley in Washington, and from the new German leadership in Berlin of Olaf Scholz (lead image, right). Their coalition can hold together so long as they can keep their proxies – the Ukrainians, Romanians and Poles – on a short leash. Taken together, or separately, these three national groups present no serious risk of war the Kremlin isn’t confident of managing in the short or medium term.   

The war problem becomes immediate and much more difficult to manage if and when the US moves its own forces with nuclear-capable weapons into firing positions in these front-line states, in the skies above, and on the Black and Baltic Seas.



By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

If NATO advanced toward the Russian border with the aim of attacking Russia with weapons made of chocolate, the Russian defense and counter-attack strategy, firing Russian-made chocolate, would overwhelm the attackers in the first wave of Russian creme, praline, nuts, waffle,  and soufflé.

That’s because Russians, and not only Russians, think Russian chocolate tastes better, with higher quality of ingredients, more variety, and less synthetics, fats, and sweeteners. In 2001, in the only survey of Russian consumer attitudes towards chocolates, including children, it was discovered that “in the image of domestic chocolate products [there were] in particular, a genuine care for the consumer, sympathy with national traditions and patriotism…. Western chocolate products had associations of vitality, well-being and self-confidence, counterbalanced by greed, artificiality and aggression.”  

The only way NATO chocolate can conquer Russia is by the Fifth Column – that is, the takeover of the domestic market by the NATO brands Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez, and Ferrero. And this is exactly what has happened. In the current Russian chocolate market, these four manufacturers account for 61% of revenues – the money Russians spend on confectionery. Together, the two US groups, Mars and Mondelez, hold a 29% market share; Nestlé of Switzerland, 24%; Ferrero of Italy, 8%.

Russian chocolate experts see the future for Russian chocolate in rapidly increasing exports to new markets like China where chocolate eating is negligible. But they predict little chance the Russian chocolate manufacturers will be able to take domestic market share away from the foreign companies. This is because, under the pressure of falling income during the pandemic, rising inflation, and shrinking profit margins, Russian chocolatiers are replacing their traditional ingredients with cheap substitutes, wiping out the taste difference and advantage over their rivals.



By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

The British Government announced this week that after cancelling   the coroner’s court inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess from alleged Russian Novichok attack, the public inquiry replacing the inquest will not start for more than a year — until February 2023.

Sturgess died in Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018, four months after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were allegedly attacked by Novichok and recovered in the same hospital. The second coroner appointed to investigate, Baroness Heather Hallett, has already ruled officially, and posted on her inquest website, that “the post mortem indicated the cause of her death was Novichok poisoning.”  The medical evidence has not been  disclosed, tested forensically, or cross-examined according to British coroner’s court standards. Those standards have now been replaced by a more secretive proceeding, called a public inquiry,  in which Hallett will play prosecutor, judge, jury, and also censor.

When the public inquiry opens, new papers released in court now reveal, government officials will have designed what they call “a bespoke disclosure strategy” to prevent open cross-examination of witnesses and public analysis of documents, including the ambulance, hospital and post-mortem medical reports. Witnesses and potential whistleblowers, including the three survivors of the alleged Novichok attack – the Skripals and Wiltshire police sergeant Nicholas Bailey – will be excluded as “interested persons” or “core participants” from the ongoing proceeding.  

To preserve their silence, and enforce the silence of others on the Wiltshire county police force and at Salisbury Hospital, special “restriction notices” are being prepared – the court papers disclose — for “a regime of ministerial restriction notices and inquiry restriction orders to allow documents or information to be withheld if it is in the public interest.” Hallett will supervise this secrecy operation to prevent “disclosure or publication of any evidence or documents given, produced or provided to an inquiry.” This gag will “continue in force indefinitely.”  

This week’s court papers also reveal that the official records now under review of the Novichok investigations have “emanated from the Home Office; the Cabinet Office; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Public Health England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Government Office for Science.”   Missing from this list, and thus from the evidence records to be submitted to the public inquiry, are the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the signals intelligence agency GCHQ, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down.

If Russian military agents had attacked with a Novichok nerve agent, according to the official narrative, these were the front-line agencies in charge.



By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with There has never been any possibility that Russian Army Colonel Sergei Muchkaev, commander of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the 20th Guards Army, would respond to allegations by Bellingcat, their NATO sources, and Dutch state prosecutors. No possibility whatsoever. For more than five years they have been claiming that Muchkaev had given the orders to move a BUK-TELAR missile battery from the brigade base in Kursk across the border into Ukraine in July 2014, and there to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17 of that year.   No army in the world, least of all the NATO armies in their war preparations against the Russian Army, would allow a fishing expedition by a secret judge and his military intelligence helpers to interrogate a serving officer for information about the command, control, communications, and operational orders of his unit. But that is exactly what the Dutch judge presiding at the MH17 trial, Hendrik Steenhuis, and the investigating judge assisting him in secret, have been attempting for several months. Last month, on November 2, Steenhuis ordered the trial to be delayed until next February while Muchkaev was pursued by the Dutchmen.    This past Wednesday, December 8, Steenhuis announced in court what he and his government superiors had been expecting. In a letter apparently dated December 3, the Russian authorities reportedly said they would not allow questioning of Muchkaev. Steenhuis said the Russian letter claimed as its legal authority the European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters – a treaty both the Dutch and Russian governments have ratified. Steenhuis did not quote the Russian government letter. Instead, he claimed he was reporting what he had been told by the secret investigating judge who had received the Russian letter last week.  According to Steenhuis, he was told the Russian Justice Ministry had said that “pursuant to the European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters such a request [for Muchkaev to be questioned] can be rejected if the requested party, in this case the Russian Federation, is of the opinion that execution of the request may harm the essential interests of the country.”   — Min 10:38. Steenhuis went on to claim he had been told by the investigating judge that the letter from Moscow claimed “the questions in the [Dutch] documents [plural] received which were going to be asked of the witness Muchkaev” involved classified military matters, disclosure of which is prohibited by Russian law.  Accordingly, Steenhuis claimed the Russian letter claimed the questioning “may cause damage to state secrets of the Russian Federation, and consequently to essential interests of the Russian Federation. In view of the above” – Steenhuis talking – the Justice Ministry refused to send the Dutch request to a Russian court to order Muchkaev to testify. “This was the reaction of the Russian Federation” – Min 11:19. But was it? That’s to say, was Steenhuis quoting from the exact words of the Russian letter, and was he quoting all of them? In his brief announcement, Steenhuis has made it appear the Russia government won’t allow their officer to testify because of a single provision in the Mutual Assistance Convention behind which the Russians are hiding what the Dutch have already accused Muchkaev of doing. Not only has Steenhuis  used the court to announce the innuendo that Muchkaev is guilty of the shoot-down of MH17. Steenhuis has also implied there was only one provision in the Convention identified in the Russian letter, and that’s the guilty secret one. In fact, the Convention provides several quite different provisions for the Russian refusal – one of which blocks evidence fishing expeditions; another which blocks attempts to pursue politically motivated allegations and show-trial prosecutions; and yet another which exempts serving soldiers. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

Behind the penetration-proof walls and the top-secret record of what was said, if the small print of their communiqués is the truth, President Joseph Biden has agreed to reduce the risk of US attack on Russia, and President Vladimir Putin to reduce the risk of Russian attack on Ukraine.

“A lot of give and take,” Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called the exchange in his post-summit briefing for the press.  Reduce instability, increase transparency, de-escalate threat of war – Sullivan added. “The United States and our European allies would engage in a larger discussion that covers strategic issues, including our strategic concerns with Russia and Russia’s strategic concerns. We managed to do this at the height of the Cold War and we developed mechanisms to help reduce instability and increase transparency.”

Russia cannot accept the threat of attack from NATO’s “attempts to develop Ukrainian territory and is building up military potential near our borders,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin report.    “Therefore, Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees that exclude the expansion of NATO in the eastern direction and the deployment of offensive weapons systems [наступательных систем вооружений] in neighbouring states with Russia.”

“You, Americans, are worried about our battalions, on Russian territory, thousands of kilometres from the United States,” Putin said, according to the press briefing by Yury Ushakov, Putin’s  foreign policy advisor and Sullivan’s Kremlin counterpart. “But we are truly concerned about our own security.”  

Putin is repeating what Sullivan and Ushakov call the “strategic concerns”  — the cross-hairs warning of May 2016; the 12-minute red line warning of February 2019; and last week’s 5-minute warning of hypersonic weapon response.  This time there’s reason to believe Putin and Biden have agreed on a sequence of reciprocal moves to test the give and the take at the strategic level, though not at the level of the fighting on the Ukraine front.  For the moment, these moves are semi-secret. If they don’t materialise between now and Christmas, then the promise, as Ushakov calls them of their teams and representatives “to enter into contact soon about these sensitive questions” will come to nothing.

There’s also reason to expect the last people to accept this will be the managers and journalists of the mainstream Anglo-American media and the schemers of Vladimir Zelensky’s (lead image, left) regime in Kiev. The propaganda war will continue without let-up; so will the shelling of the Donbass.  



By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

About the Russiagate operation that continues in the US, Richard Sakwa (lead image), a professor at the University of Kent, has gotten one thing right and one thing wrong. The wrong turns out to be the same thing as the right.

Russiagate, he says, defining that as the narrative of Russian interference in US politics in support of Donald Trump, “is one of the most mystifying yet consequential events of our time.” At the same time, Russiagate is a propaganda and deception operation aimed at achieving the political interests of the Democratic Party, their candidates and supporters. “What if Russian actions during the 2016 were minimal and defensive, and there was no grand plot”, Sakwa asks rhetorically, not quite agreeing to answer for himself. “In that case the endless years of the Russiagate scandal, in which every scrap of evidence was portrayed as the ‘smoking gun’ before being  discredited” turn out to be “deception.. defined as the deliberate attempt on the part of leaders to mislead the public about the thrust of official thinking…  Such deceptions are now routine in US politics.”

A deception cannot be either mystifying or consequential if it’s routine. But if the Russiagate operation is routine, then the truth of the  narrative doesn’t stop the repetition, and the falsehood doesn’t matter to the public. Accordingly, the New York Times insists it will continue reporting under its headline of last week: “Why the Discredited Dossier Does Not Undercut the Russia Investigation?”.

The newspaper knows this is a successful money-making formula; indeed, it admits it is making more revenue than ever, and more profit too. “This was our best third-quarter performance in both News and total net subscription additions since the launch of the digital pay model more than a decade ago,” the company’s chief executive announced on November 1;  “and, outside of 2020, our best quarter ever for digital subscription additions.”  With 90% of the New York Times’ subscriptions now digital, the management is convinced that fake news is profitable – that clickbait works.  New York Times reporters won’t retract or apologize for lying when the lies generate bigger dividends for the shareholders, bigger bonuses for management and reporters.

Nothing new about this. What is  new is the behaviour of the alternative  media in marketing their truth of the Russiagate story.  Sakwa has made his book out of balancing what the mainstream media fakers have reported and what the alt-media reporters have to report of the truth. The audience measures, subscription numbers, and balance-sheets of the alt-media are more secret than publicly owned media companies but the marketing tactics are the same – they report the truths which make the mainstream media out to be liars; they repeat this over and over for clickbait effect.

Sakwa hasn’t interviewed a direct source for anything in his book. He appears not to know US government officials or Russian government officials, lawyers or detectives.  He acknowledges his limitation with this excuse — “the fundamental methodological problem [is] that we still do not know what really happened. Much of the relevant material remains classified.” So his book is composed of secondary-source quotes from one side or another – from liars and truth-tellers carefully balanced.

But what’s the point of Sakwa’s balance?  Do lies get less false by balancing them against the truth? Does the truth get weaker or stronger by balancing them with lies? Is the reader to be persuaded arithmetically – by the number of secondary views cited on one side or the other of the veracity line?

The answer, yes or no, to these questions is so obvious, it should be reckoned silly to ask them. But why is Sakwa selling his 555-page book for the premium price of $120; or to be less capitalistic, why should a reader pay? That’s a rhetorical question.

So why read on? To see the paradox Sakwa seems not to have spotted.  

On the one hand, as Sakwa did notice in passing, American voters don’t think the Russiagate story, or in fact anything to do with Russia, is of any importance to the way they have recently voted or will vote at presidential or congressional elections.    On the other hand, as the balance-sheet of the New York Times proves every quarter, the voters who read such newspapers will keep paying to be persuaded or deceived – and then disregard the Russian material when they vote.

Put these two parts of the paradox together, et voila! the conclusion is that Russiagate has proved to be a commercially profitable plot of the media, alt-media no less than mainstream media,  which has satisfied no one and stopped nothing from being repeated over and over.   

That’s also definition of the money shot in pornography. By that standard, Russiagate turns out to be the longest wank in American history (Sakwa’s too).



By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with Once upon a time, before the Blin-Noodle gang had been born; when their grandparents were still Ukrainians; and before the gang was pushing its protégés to make war on Russia from behind a shield of civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk, there was an American humourist named James Thurber. He was the 20th century successor to the other American humourist Mark Twain. There is no one to succeed those two Americans in our time. Thurber told a story about provocations, false warnings, and what these days is called the RED LINE. Thurber’s moral was: “Get it right or let it alone. The conclusion you jump to may be your own.” (more…)


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

Education Template