IT ISN’T OVER WHEN THE FAT LADY SINGS – THE FIRST RUSSIAN STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT OF THE AUSTRALIA-UK-US (AUKUS) SUBMARINE DEAL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Following last week’s meeting in Washington of Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image left), the Australian defence minister and their US counterparts, a strategic military and basing agreement was announced between Australia, the UK and US (AUKUS). This is being reinforced with summit  meetings in Washington this week.

The declared target of their war-making preparations is China.

Australian strategy against Russia in the Pacific region follows in lockstep with the US. But for the time being the Russian enemy, and Russian submarine and surface fleet operations in the Indo-Pacific region, are not being discussed by Australian officials in public; at least not to the extent when President Vladimir Putin last visited Australia in November 2014 with a nuclear-powered, nuclear armed naval escort.

Ahead of schemes for strategic warmaking in the Pacific, the US, the UK and Australia are also engaged in proxy war operations. These have accelerated recently in Myanmar, where Russia and China are allied in support of the military government of  General Min Aung Hlaing.  Next, from both sides, state bribery, subversion, putsch-making, and other special operations are likely to accelerate in the Pacific islands from Fiji to Papua-New Guinea.

For the moment, the initial reaction to AUKUS from the Russian Foreign Ministry has been as close to uncritical as the ministry can be. “We noted the plans, announced by Australia,” said spokesman Maria Zakharova last Thursday, “to build nuclear-powered submarines as part of an ‘enhanced trilateral security partnership’ agreed yesterday by the United States, Great Britain and Australia. We proceed from the premise that being a non-nuclear power and fulfilling in good faith the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Australia will honour its commitments under this document, as well as the IAEA Safeguards Agreements along with its Additional Protocol. We hope that Canberra ensures the necessary level of cooperation with the IAEA in order to rule out any proliferation-related risks.”

The first detailed technical and strategic assessment of the AUKUS scheme has followed this week  in Vzglyad, the leading strategy publication reflecting the Russian General Staff and GRU assessments. A translation from the Russian article by Alexander Timokhin follows.

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THE AUSTRALIAN CHEWING-GUM IS NOW ON THE RUSSIAN SHOE – AUSTRALIAN MINISTER ASKS LAVROV TO SAVE EXPORTS FROM CHINESE SANCTIONS; LAVROV ASKS FOR AUSTRALIAN SUPPORT TO STOP FAKE MH17 EVIDENCE IN DUTCH SHOW TRIAL

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

One day after Australia was defeated at the World Health Assembly in a joint effort with the Trump Administration to attack China, and after Beijing retaliated, calling the Australian Government a US puppet, a joke, and chewing-gum on China’s shoe, Australia has telephoned Moscow for help. In a call initiated by Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image, left), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was asked to boost Russian imports from Australia and send more Russian tourists to the country.

Lavrov replied that Australia should stop fabricating evidence of Russian involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and withdraw from the Dutch show trial which is scheduled to resume hearings in Amsterdam  next month.

Payne has not disclosed the telephone call to Moscow in her twitter stream nor is it revealed in her ministry’s news releases.  No Australian newspaper or television broadcaster —  half of them owned by Rupert Murdoch and equally hostile to both Russia and China —  has reported the Payne-Lavrov conversation.

Payne’s spokesman, David Wroe, refused a request to confirm the conversation, which took place in the early Moscow afternoon of Wednesday. Payne’s ministry in Canberra is also refusing to explain why the minister made the first-ever telephone call to Lavrov on record in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s archive.

“A clumsy move by the Australians,” commented a Moscow source close to the General Staff, “to make it appear  they can balance ‘positive’ relations with Russia against the bad relationship they caused with China. In Mao’s day,  the Australians were called paper tigers and running dogs.  Recently we’ve experienced how much of a US puppet the Australians are; they imposed trade sanctions against us in 2014; they have lied consistently about the MH17 affair and tried against us the same ‘international investigation’ ploy they failed to achieve against the WHO. This telephone call changes nothing except to convince us, and the Chinese of course, that Australian officials are blundering so badly in the world Trump won’t be able to save them.”

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TRUTH VACCINE KILLS AUSTRALIAN-AMERICAN CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHINA IN WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION DEBATE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A coordinated attempt by the Australian and US governments to blame China for the corona virus, and to attack the World Health Organisation (WHO) for covering this up at China’s behest,  failed when the World Health Assembly (WHA) voted on Tuesday afternoon.

The terms of the Covid-19 resolution adopted by the 194 member-state assembly declared it is up to the WHO to “initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with Member States, a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms”.

This language, originally sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Russia, repudiated the Australian demand, issued after talks with President Donald Trump (lead image, centre) on April 22,   that an investigation should be conducted independently of the WHO because “the government does not hold faith in the WHO, or its decision-making body the World Health Assembly, to lead a probe into the pandemic”.

The WHO could not be trusted to investigate itself or the origin of the Covid-19 virus, said Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image, centre). She does “not believe the WHO should run the inquiry,” the official told a state media organ. “It will need parties, countries to come to the table with a willingness to be transparent and to engage in that process and to ensure that we have a review mechanism in which the international community can have faith.”   The WHO, she added, “strikes me as somewhat poacher and gamekeeper”.

The terms of the resolution adopted on Tuesday also ignored the claim by Australia’s agriculture minister that the Huanan wild animal market in Wuhan was the starting point for the virus to develop in human beings. “We should be damn proud as a nation,” said David Littleproud, “that we led the world, not only on understanding what the WHO has done, but understanding what wildlife wet markets’ role is in these pandemics.”

Apart from claims broadcast by Australian and US officials to the media, there is no trace of an Australian text circulating among the WHO member states since Canberra and Washington started their campaign in April.  WHO spokesman Margaret Harris, speaking in Geneva just after Tuesday’s vote,  said no Australian draft resolution had been submitted to the WHO secretariat.  Harris also said the US had refused to join the final resolution as a sponsor, but did not publicly object when the vote was called.

David Wroe, spokesman for Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, was asked to substantiate the minister’s claims by releasing the “first Australian proposal for the text of the resolution;  the date of first introduction of the Australian text; and the texts with dates of such subsequent Australian text drafts submitted to the WHA.” He refused.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attacked the Australian-American campaign last week. “This is not a time to be crying ‘stop thief!’ and pointing fingers, it’s a time to cooperate and to develop a vaccine as soon as possible. Institutions in Europe, China, Russia, the US and many other countries are working on this… it is at least inappropriate to say that the Chinese were concealing information from the WHO, or that the WHO did not know some things, or that it knew about the coronavirus but held back information. Needless to say, nobody could imagine the developments that led to this pandemic but it’s an unprecedented situation. Doctors were acting under conditions where the experience gained from other pandemics was not enough. This pandemic proved to be much more serious. I think WHO experts must be supported and encouraged in every way rather than accused without grounds. This is especially true since the overwhelming majority of WHO Secretariat employees come from the countries that are the strongest critics of the WHO.”

On Tuesday, following the WHA vote, the Chinese government issued a statement from its embassy in Canberra. It said the terms of the Covid-19 resolution were “totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review…All those who know the consultation process that led to the resolution understand this.  To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.”

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MALCOLM TURNBULL’S RUSSIA STORY – EX-PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA TRIES NEW COMEBACK WITH OLD BRAIN

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Malcolm Turnbull is the most intelligent man ever to become Australian prime minister, and to have left office more stupid than he began. Among the governments south of the Equator, this is without precedent. Since Turnbull served as head of government for only three years, 2015 to 2018, when he was 61 to 64 years of age, he has set the medical record for non-traumatic early-onset senescence in the cerebrum; that’s the part of the brain responsible for learning. He didn’t; he can’t.

This week Turnbull has published a book of selections from his life aimed at refreshing his credentials to retake the political power he lost to rivals. His display of the symptoms that caused him to lose it is undiminished.

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AUSTRALIAN TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT – RUSSIA-HATERS FALL OUT AMONG THEMSELVES, PRIME MINISTER REPLACED – NEWS FLASH! MOSCOW DID NOTHING

By John Helmer, Moscow

When the Australian Government was overthrown a few days ago, nothing and nobody Russian was blamed in the local media for interfering.

According to the ousted Liberal (conservative) Party Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the “insurgency” was a plot by media owned by Rupert Murdoch and a group of conservative MPs led by Peter Dutton, an ex-vice squad policeman who shaves his skull and has run Australia’s secret services with an order to roll down their shirtsleeves to conceal their tattoos. Murdoch and Dutton failed. For the time being, power has been taken by a religious zealot called Scott Morrison. His belief in God speaking in tongues has, so far, not led his own tongue to wag blamefully in Russia’s direction.

The absence of fake news about Russia might have been news in Australia had not the national consensus on Russia-hating been comprehensive, covering all the political parties, factions and ethnic lobbies; all the media, mainstream, alt and social; and all the universities and think-tanks, so there’s no advantage for anyone to repeat the obvious. (more…)

AUSTRALIAN ARMCHAIR GENERAL WEAPONIZES HIMSELF IN WAR AGAINST RUSSIA

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Paul Dibb, the former head of two Australian spy organizations and a deputy defence minister, has just published a call for Australian troops to be ready to fight in Europe against “Russia’s refusal to act in ways consistent with international law and standards of behaviour.” Dibb is known in Australia as “the country’s leading Cold War Russia expert.”

The Dibb report appeared on June 29, on the eve of last week’s Australian parliamentary election, when voters repudiated incumbent prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. He had called the snap poll, confident of expanding his majority in the two houses of parliament. He has now suffered a 3% negative swing by the voters; the loss of at least 23 seats; and months of political uncertainty ahead, including the possibility his party will replace him as leader.

Among Turnbull’s last-minute ploys to attract votes, one was the leak last month of Australian cabinet plans for an Australian Army force to fight in eastern Ukraine, alongside Dutch and other NATO units, to destroy the Donetsk and Lugansk rebellion against the regime in Kiev. Turnbull’s leak had suggested that Tony Abbott, the prime minister Turnbull had pushed aside to take the job, dreamed up the plan of Australian war at the Russian frontier by himself. The new report by Dibb now corroborates the idea of an Australian military expedition against Russia, in exchange for improved American commitments to defend Australia from the Chinese closer to home, in the Pacific. “How things work out in Europe,” Dibb claims, “ will affect Washington’s ability to reassure allies and partners everywhere, including those in our region who must contend with increasing coercion by China.” Unless Australia does more fighting with the Americans on the Russian front, he concludes, “China will take advantage of this, and allies and partners of the US in the region—including Australia—would be subject to further uncertainty about American military commitments to Asia.” Combating “Russia’s aggressive military behaviour “is necessary because, otherwise, “both Moscow and Beijing will be seen as getting away with it.”
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PUTIN SUBMARINES SURROUND AUSTRALIA WITHIN RANGE OF US BASES – RAY ATOMIZES AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It is eleven weeks since President Vladimir Putin visited Brisbane, Australia, for a summit meeting of the G20 states. Putin was escorted in the Coral Sea, east of Brisbane, by a Russian Navy flotilla making the longest deployment of the Russian surface fleet ever displayed. Including Russian submarines shadowing the flotilla, this was also the most powerful Russian force ever to practice aiming at targets on the Australian continent operated by the Australian Defence Forces, the US military, or the two at bases they operate together.

Because these bases run in secret, most Australians had no idea what was happening, and what was changing. The Australian media – controlled by three proprietors — Rupert Murdoch; the government; and until February 6 a mining oligarch called Gina Rinehart — didn’t alert them. For the story the Australian and Russian press didn’t report, click.

The Russian Navy off the Australian east coast in November was armed with ballistic and cruise missiles, with nuclear warheads capable of striking every US warfighting base on the Australian continent, plus the Australian cities. Like Putin, the flotilla withdrew northwards to base on November 16. They left behind a death ray which is destroying the local politicians most hostile to receiving Putin at the summit.
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THE BLUE SKY POTENTIAL OF CHUKOTKA — WHY IS STATE MONEY BEING WAGERED ON TIGERS REALM COAL?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Tiger is an unlucky brand-name for Russian investment. The record of Mikhail Prokhorov and Maxim Finsky in trying, and failing three times over to sell shares in White Tiger Gold on the Toronto Stock Exchange explains. So why is the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a state development bank, betting on a small Australian-listed coking coal company in Chukotka called Tigers Realm Coal?

The feareasternmost province of Russia, Chukotka makes a good case for ample underground resources to be mined, so long as costs of digging and shipping to China stay low; and demand recovers. Perish the thought that Tigers Realm Coal is an insider manipulation with the aim of pumping the share price, then dumping the project by several names associated with such scheming in the past.
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NAVAL TIT-FOR-TAT – WHO REALLY WANTS WAR WITH RUSSIA?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

There is no word in the language of Australian soldiers or sailors for tit-for-tat.

American military strategists, the uniform and the armchair types, are much better acquainted. The latter understand exactly why a squadron of the Russian Pacific Fleet has sailed to a position within helicopter (and nuclear-armed missile) range of Brisbane, ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the G20 state summit over the weekend.
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US DECLARES WAR ON RUSSIA — AUSTRALIA THREATENS PRESIDENT PUTIN’S SECURITY AT G-20 SUMMIT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian Government is threatening the personal security of President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit, to be held in November. The state government of Queensland, where the summit meetings will be located, is threatening to attack Putin with public displays of homosexual symbols, including pink sequins.

The calculation is that Russia’s international isolation should be intensified, Putin evicted from the G-20, as he was in March from the G-8; reviled in his absence as justification for violent schemes to overthrow him. If Putin attends the Queensland meeting, the risk of the latter will be high. Fear for himself is what the Australians intend him to have.
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POPEYE PULLS PUTIN PUNCH — TOO LATE TO PREVENT KNOCK-OUT FOR AUSTRALIAN MEAT EXPORTS TO RUSSIA

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian Government has decided not to exclude President Vladimir Putin from the summit meeting of the G-20 heads of government scheduled for Brisbane in November. The move to withdraw the entry ban, first declared on March 19, is too late to prevent the restoration of Australia’s $200 million beef export trade to Russia. According to importers in Moscow, the orders for that meat are now going to several South American countries. Imports of pork, veal and turkey from the US, banned by Russia for more than a year, have been revived.
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AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER EATS HORMONES, LOSES $200 MILLION AS MEAT EXPORTS TO RUSSIA BANNED

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Australian meat imports to Russia have been banned by an order of the Russian veterinary and phyto-sanitary service, Rosselkhoznadzaor (RSN). The order was issued on March 31, and halts a trade which earned Australian meat exporters almost $200 million last year. The Russian action came twelve days after the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced that President Vladimir Putin may be banned from entering Australia to attend the G20 summit meeting, scheduled in Brisbane in November.

The RSN announced that it has found traces of a growth hormone or steroid called Trenbolone, first in chilled Australian beef, then in beef offal, and now in frozen beef. RSN official Alexei Alexeyenko said the comprehensive ban was imposed after RSN judged that certifications from the Australian government’s veterinary authorities could not be trusted. This followed negotiations between RSN and their Australian counterparts between December and February, and after the Australians had given fresh undertakings. According to Sergei Dankvert, the head of RSN, the Australians had promised to exclude from their exports to Russia meat with trenbolone traces, but this hasn’t happened.
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WHO SAYS GREENPEACE IS A SACRED COW? THE GLOBAL MEDIA, PRINT AND INTERNET, THAT’S WHO

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By John Helmer, Moscow

According to Colin Russell, an Australian who was the radioman on board the Greenpeace vessel, Arctic Sunrise, he’s “a good man”. Arrested by Russian coast guards after barricading himself in the radio room on September 19, he was imprisoned in Murmansk and St. Petersburg, until he was granted bail and released last Thursday, November 28. Russell claimed on his release: “I don’t understand the reasons why I’m being detained. It’s two months’ hard time for nothing. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

The initial charges considered against Russell by Russian prosecutors were resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and piracy. The legal case for the piracy charge has been spelled out, not in the Russian courts, but in the federal US District Court and US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which covers the northern Pacific coast states and Alaska. If you want to understand why piracy may be charged against unarmed attackers of a vessel at sea, read this US ruling carefully.
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KANGAROO MEAT BAN TO SAVE DOMESTIC PORK PRODUCERS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The report last week of an abrupt ban on kangaroo imports to Russia, issued on July 25, concluded with the statement by Rosselkhoznadzor (RSN), the government’s veterinary and phytosanitary inspectorate, that there had been no phytosanitary problem with the meat, and that with guarantees RSN will negotiate with the Australian exporter, the ban might be lifted.

The Australian exporter, Macro Meats, has reacted with the hope that negotiations with RSN will achieve this outcome soon.
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RUSSIANS CAN’T TIE THEIR KANGAROO DOWN – VLADIVOSTOK SAUSAGES LOSE THEIR BOUNCE

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Russia, the biggest market in the world for exports of Australian kangaroo meat, has thrown the trade into confusion by announcing that authorization for the exporter, Macro Meats of South Australia, has been suspended. According to a July 25 notice from Rosselkhoznadzor (RSN), the government’s veterinary and phytosanitary inspectorate, a container load of kangaroo meat was stopped when inspection found that it originated from a source other than the one licensed for import by RSN. Although RSN isn’t specific, the port is believed to have been Vladivostok, and the seizure about three weeks ago.

Most of the kangaroo meat landing in Russia goes into sausages fabricated and consumed in the Russian fareast. This has been because domestic beef and pork production in the region has been too small to fill the sausage skins, and kangaroo can be landed from Australia more cheaply than imported American, European or Chinese pork. To the south, in China, Australian kangaroo traders claim that choice, higher-cost fillets of the kangaroo are potentially in high demand.
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THE SNOWDEN DISCLOSURES — HOW THE GCHQ INTERCEPT SYSTEM EXPOSED A RUSSIAN TELEPHONE CALL

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It has been known for a long time that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been intercepting millions of Russian telephone calls, SMS texts and internet traffic, along with the communications of other target nationals, including Americans and the British themselves. Older eavesdropping operations, such as ECHELON, have been documented by European Parliament investigations. More recent operations, such as PRISM and TEMPORA, have been confirmed by the former National Security Agency (NSA) contract agent, Edward Snowden, whose disclosures substantiate the methodology of surveillance, the range of data produced, targeting, sorting, and purported value.

ECHELON snooped on satellite traffic; PRISM on internet data from server companies; and TEMPORA, a telephone surveillance operation, tapped international fibre-optic cables. The signal collection stations are in all sorts of places, including the US, Puerto Rico, Cyprus, Japan, Germany, Canada, UK, and Australia. The Snowden material is up to two years old; the operations he has documented date from about 2007.
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ROMAN ABRAMOVICH TESTS KREMLIN FOREIGN INVESTMENT STRICTURE WITH NEW BILLION-DOLLAR AUSTRALIAN DEAL

By John Helmer, Moscow

Roman Abramovich was recently able to bamboozle a British judge with no experience of Russia, when the credibility standard was set by Boris Berezovsky. But can his winsome personality persuade President Vladimir Putin and energy chief Igor Sechin that Russia badly needs to acquire an Australian company that has adapted Soviet technology for turning coal into gas; should lend Abramovich up to $2 billion to buy the asset; and maybe several hundred more million dollars to flip the asset to Evraz, the Russian steel and coalmining group which Abramovich’s holding, Millhouse, already controls?

Abramovich’s last attempt at spending a Russian dividend stream on foreign assets was aborted when Evraz withdrew its bid to buy Scaw Metals, a South African steelmaker owned by Anglo American. That deal, worth between $500 million and $700 million, didn’t happen at the same time as Victor Rashnikov was extricating Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine from its $560 million commitment to buy Flinders Mining, an Australian iron-ore project.
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ZIYAVUDIN MAGOMEDOV ADVERTISES ANOTHER MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR IMPROBABILITY, THIS TIME A $3 BILLION TAKEOVER OF AUSTRALIA’S GRAINCORP

By John Helmer, Moscow

When he was last spotted at his own devices, Ziyavudin Magomedov announced on September 20 that some time in the next decade he and Gazprom intend to build a refinery to convert natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) in bunker form to power a Magomedov fleet of newly designed, newly launched ocean-going ships. Magomedov’s current fleet comprises mostly tugboats with antique power plants, employed for tanker escort at Novorossiysk and Primorsk ports; he has declined to explain where the new fleet would come from, or why. So the announcement appeared to be no more than an advertisement that, in the current scramble for state budget and state bank funds, Magomedov has a powerful ally.

He has now followed with a placement in Bloomberg that he is thinking of making a bid to buy Australia’s GrainCorp, and must beat the takeover bid already on the table from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) for A$2.77 billion (US$2.88 billion).
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THE RUSSIAN STEEL DOCTRINE — MORDASHOV PROMISES NOT DO TO WHAT RASHNIKOV, ABRAMOVICH ATTEMPTED IN AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AFRICA

By John Helmer, Moscow

The shrinking violet of English literature, Jane Austen (image top right), said it best: “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”

Alexei Mordashov (image centre) likes to think of the Business System he has introduced at his steel company Severstal as a sign of genius. He even spells the management method with capital BS, which is also the way managers speak of it.

In Severstal’s annual report for last year, the same thing is headlined “Transformational Thinking” (TT). Far from being transformational, the language in the annual report describing the BS is conventional share-price touting: “Among industry players, our Business System is unrivaled in terms of the extent of its integration and EBITDA contribution potential. The system aims to optimise company-wide operations, unify goals, create a strong corporate culture and improve KPIs ranging from profit to efficiency to health and safety targets.”
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SURPRISE TOY! – CHELYABINSK COURT DELAYS FLINDERS MINES CASE UNTIL AUGUST 1

By John Helmer, Moscow

At a closed-door hearing today at the Chelyabinsk Arbitrazh Court, Judge Natalia Bulavintseva again refused to hear argument for and against the proposed half-billion dollar acquisition of an Australian iron-ore miner, Flinders Mines, by Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK). The court secretary Sergei Povalyaev said the judge ordered the hearing postponed for another month, until August 1. The reason, the source said, was to allow a “request for financial and economic expertise, which was filed by one of the parties.” Because of the closed door, he claimed he could not say whether MMK filed the delay-making request, or Flinders Mines, or the purported plaintiff in the action, MMK minority shareholder Elena Egorova.
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THE IRON CURTAIN DROPS ON FLINDERS MINES

By John Helmer, Moscow

Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK) announced Thursday it will not agree to extend the time for its agreement to buy Flinders Mines, an Australian iron-ore miner, after the deal deadline or quit date expires tomorrow, June 30. “Magnitogorsk’s decision on its future actions regarding the agreement will be taken only when the results of the court hearings are known,” Kirill Golubkov, a spokesman for MMK, said.
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PENULTIMATE MESSAGE FROM VICTOR RASHNIKOV — WHEN WILL FLINDERS MINES UNDERSTAND?

By John Helmer, Moscow

A three-judge appeals court panel in Chelyabinsk this morning preserved the injunction against Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK) completing its takeover of Australian iron-ore miner, Flinders Mines.

Today’s proceedings were a continuation of the May 30 hearing in Appeal Court no. 18 of the Chelyabinsk Arbitrazh Court, when Judge Galina Fedina, accompanied by judges Irina Sokolova and Svetlana Ershova, postponed consideration of parallel appeals submitted by MMK and Flinders Mines. Lawyers for the Australian company submitted additional materials on June 1, according to a notice on the court website.
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CHELYABINSK APPEAL COURT RULES FOR ANOTHER POSTPONEMENT, BUT A NEW RASHNIKOV MYSTERY IS IN THE WORKS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Judge Galina Fedina ruled this morning, after a brief, open hearing, that she is postponing until June 6 her consideration of the injunction against Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK) finalizing its takeover of Flinders Mines. The action was confirmed by the judge’s spokesman at the Chelyabinsk Court of Appeal no. 18, Olga Tige.

The court website reveals that yesterday the phantom shareholder and plaintiff in the case, Elena Egorova, filed two new motions which the judge conceded today she isn’t ready to consider. The website does not allow the motions themselves to be read.
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THE CHELYABINSK SHOWDOWN — RASHNIKOV CIRCUMNAVIGATES, EXITS AUSTRALIA

By John Helmer, Moscow

Captain Matthew Flinders was a late 18th century British Navy captain and one of the greatest explorer navigators of his time. His circumnavigation around the southern continent he called Australia also led to the naming of dozens of places by his name, along with a species of local citrus tree. He spent so much time at sea, and so little at home, he wrote a book about his shipboard companion which he entitled Trim, Being the True Story of a Brave Seafaring Cat.

Understandably, Flinders Mines (FMS) thought their hole in the ground in Western Australia should be named after the captain, though after their six-month brush with the Russians, Trim might have been more apt. Here’s the tale so far.
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FITCH ISSUES NEGATIVE OUTLOOK WARNING FOR MAGNITOGORSK – ANOTHER BLOW TO RASHNIKOV’S DEAL FOR FLINDERS MINES

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Fitch ratings agency today issued a warning that growing debt at Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), owned by Victor Rashnikov, is at a “higher level than previously expected”. With prices for MMK’s products falling, the company’s free cashflow is under pressure, the Fitch report claims, as it downgraded its outlook forecast for MMK from stable to negative. The agency said also that it has made no changes to MMK’s long-term and short-term issuer default ratings, which are BB+ and B, respectively. It may issue a downgrade of those, the agency adds, if the negative cashflow persists.

MMK’s version of the Fitch warning attempts a cosmetic makeover. That is as convincing to investors as French silicone is to breasts.
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RASHNIKOV REBUFFED – CHELYABINSK JUDGE REFUSES TO CLOSE DOOR ON FLINDERS MINES DEAL DETAILS, BUT SHE WON’T OPEN IT EITHER

By John Helmer, Moscow

Whoever Elena Egorova may be, she and Victor Rashnikov, owner of Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine (MMK), share exactly the same desire for personal anonymity and business secrecy as the Chelyabinsk court case against MMK’s half-billion dollar purchase of an Australian iron-ore mining project reaches its climax later this month. This is their story so far.

If anyone imagined that MMK is a public shareholding company with conventional accountability and corporate governance standards for spending $9 billion in annual revenues and $16 billion in assets, the action by a purported shareholder, with a name, a share, and nothing else, to halt the offshore acquisition has exposed a total blackout of information by Rashnikov’s company, and the refusal of Rashnikov, with 86% of the company shares, to explain his decision-making to his co-shareholders. But from the court file released this week, it now appears the plaintiff shareholder is as keen as the defendant oligarch to keep the evidence and the proceedings secret.
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TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN — ANOTHER CHELYABINSK PUT-OFF FOR VICTOR RASHNIKOV’S MMK

By John Helmer, Moscow

Judge Natalia Bulavintseva ruled yesterday in Chelyabinsk Arbitrazh court that the hearing she had previously fixed for argument by lawyers on the substance of the case against Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine’s (MMK) purchase of Flinders Mines will be delayed for another month. Instead of April 25, this hearing has now been set for May 24.

On April 12, when ruling to dismiss a motion by MMK to lift her injunction against proceeding with the deal, Bulavintseva had written: “The validity of [the plaintiff’s] arguments (abuse of discretion) can be verified in court when considering the merits of the case… the court considers [these] issues that should be ascertained when considering the merits of the case.”
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SHEEP’S BALLS CAN BE DELICIOUS IF YOU ARE NOT A SHEEP – AUSTRALIA AND RUSSIA PUT THE BITE ON FIJI, WHERE OLEG DERIPASKA HAS A TENDER INTEREST

By John Helmer, Moscow

Eating sheep’s balls is an acquired taste, though if you’re from the Caucasus or Azerbaijan, the taste comes with your mother’s milk, so to speak. If you are an Australian politician, complaining in public that someone else is biting yours is an everyday thing.

Australia has always been sensitive below its belt, where the colonial and imperial powers – Great Britain, the United States, Japan (briefly), and China for the next millennium – like to keep a tight grip. The former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has a hands-on relationship with China, too – his brother Greg operates a fortune cookie business in Beijing. That hasn’t inhibited Kevin from promising Washington he is ready to go to war with China if the US Government thinks that’s a good thing.
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BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD – BHP’S LATEST BLOW TO CHINA TO GALVANIZE THE MANGANESE MARKET

By John Helmer, Moscow

BHP Billiton (BHP), the world’s dominant producer of manganese, last week slashed the price of manganese for delivery to China, the world’s dominant consumer, by 14%, arousing the suspicion that the Big Australian is aiming to drive rival producers from the business, and when Chinese steelmaking is expected to revive next year, corner a larger share of the market. Ironically, the price action may also accelerate the exit of the Australian independent Consolidated Minerals from Australia, where costs are now close to the break-even level, towards African operations.
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MICHAEL WILSON BEATS MINE MOONLIGHTERS IN AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Michael Wilson, a Kazakhstan-based lawyer specializing in mining and natural resources, has won a judgement from Australia’s highest court, reinstating a December 2009 award of more than $11 million. The five-year record of litigation has nailed three Australian lawyers — John Emmott, Robert Nicholls, and David Slater – for nicking clients, business, shares and profits from Wilson’s law firm MWP. According to the court rulings, the defendants secretly moonlighted to earn fees and share bonuses for transactions involving several major Kazakh resource projects — Sunkar Resources’s Chilisai phosphate project; Frontier Mining’s Benkala copper project; Roxi Petroleum; Max Petroleum; two other Central Asian mining projects, Urals Gold and Ablai; and four projects tied to these and other operators in the same region — Karamandybas (oil and gas), Ravninnoye (oil), Beibars Munai (oil), Lancaster, and Kangamiut (seafoods).
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



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

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.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



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

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.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

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.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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