RUSSIA-HATING AND RUSSOPHOBIA ARE A THOUSAND YEARS OLD – LONG ENOUGH TO PROVE THERE’S NO CURE, ONLY REMISSION BY FORCE OF ARMS

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Hatred of the Russian race and Russophobia are more than a thousand years old in Europe – long enough for everyone nowadays to realise there’s no cure for them.  At least not by rational persuasion, not by words.  Remission by force of arms is another matter altogether.

A Swiss history of the phenomenon in Europe, starting in France in Charlemagne’s time and ending on the Donbass contact line since 2014, explains why the stakes along that line are so great now. The book is also an aid to comprehending why in this week’s telephone conversation between the chief Russian and American negotiators, Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lead image, 1st right) demonstrated the futility of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s (3rd right) talking with him again.*  

The Swiss history, published by Guy Mettan in 2017 as President Donald Trump was taking office in Washington, reveals a hopefulness that is impossible now. “Will Trump know how”, Mettan asks in his last paragraph, “will he still want to, or will he simply give up on trying to turn the tide and bring back civility in the relations between the West and Russia? Is a respite in what is turning out to be a new Cold War at all possible?” Mettan answered himself: “We certainly wish so. After all, if the task is almost superhuman, as no one will doubt after reading this book, it just may not be altogether impossible.”

Squeezing between that double negative there is in fact no space, no hope.

Mettan has written a primer on this brand of racism, noting that “Russophobia, contrary to French Anglophobia and Germanophobia, is a phenomenon that, though different of course, resembles anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Like anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, it is not a transitory phenomenon linked to specific historical events; it exists first in the head of the one who looks, not in the victim’s alleged behaviour or characteristics.”

In Mettan’s history, American Russophobia “begins where the French, the English, and the Germans left off. It is a dynamic synthesis of French liberal-democratic Russophobia and English and German imperialist Russoaphobias.”  To Mettan the American phenomenon of today is a millennial climax of sorts. It‘s the apogee and the perigee, the final form of confidence in pursuing genocidal war against the Russians who resist and subjugation of those who remain,  which the German leadership held in June 1941.

According to Mettan, though, the adoption of Russophobia as US state policy since 1945  has reversed the outcome of the last war for the Germans. “This is how, in less than a quarter century, without striking a single blow Germany has just won the First and Second World Wars!”

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HOW RUSSIAN FICTION STUMPED GEORGE SAUNDERS

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FIONA HILL IS THE NAME OF A COMIC STRIP ZOMBIE – READ HOW US WARFIGHTERS LIKE HER GET THEMSELVES WET AND WOOZLED

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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THE FIRST SUPERHERO COMIC BOOK ABOUT RUSSIA – CAN YOU SPOT WHAT’S WRONG IN THIS PICTURE?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

There’s a lot to be afraid of in life. Mine has been dominated by the fear of suffocating to death.

Compared to that, verbal insults, the headmaster’s cane, my father’s screaming, army camp, police on horses, Harvard University, the doorman at Fortnum’s, bad reviews, Russian gunmen, Georgian gunmen, and threats by lawyers amount to less. When they strike, they generate an equal or greater mass of energy to fight back. But when suffocation comes on, all I am able to do is to gasp for air, and prepare for the worst.

The problem with the fear of suffocating is that it leads to three other fears – the fear of dentists working in my mouth; the fear of being gagged by robbers; and the fear of laughing.

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TRUTH TONIC FOR RUSSIA WAR FIGHTERS & HOW TO VOTE GUIDE — THE DANCES WITH BEARS COMIC IS OUT TODAY

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Faster than a speeding bullet — more powerful than a locomotive — able to leap tall lies at a single bound.

More farsighted than Clark Kent (alias Superman), greener than Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), more tenacious than Peter Parker (Spiderman), as sworn to vengeance against lawlessness as Bruce Wayne (Batman).

That’s the first true to life comic book coated in LAUGHTER, the only antidote that’s certain to neutralize Novichok if it gets into your underpants or a BUK rocket if it’s fired at your airplane.

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THE TWO SATANS OF AFGHANISTAN – AND JIMMY CARTER’S LIPS ARE SEALED

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

If ever there was a man who displayed on his face the evil in his mind, it was Zbigniew Brzezinski (lead image, left),  the national security advisor for President Jimmy Carter (right) when the US plot to start the war against the Soviet Union on the Afghan front was hatched in  1979. “Now we can lure the Russians into the Afghan trap,” he wrote Carter in a secret note of February 1979. In July of that year he followed with the directive Carter signed in secret to supply arms to the mujahideen “to induce a Soviet military intervention”. In December 1979 Brzezinski told Carter: “we should not be too sanguine about Afghanistan becoming a Soviet Vietnam”.  Later he used to boast that had been precisely his intention and also his crowning achievement.

Brzezinski’s lips are sealed now because he’s been dead for four years.  

Carter is still alive. In 1979 he kept the evil on his mind secret behind the smile on his face. His lips are sealed now, since the retreat from Afghanistan began by the US Army, and after the rout last month in Kabul. The mainstream American press are not reporting they have asked Carter for comment, or that he has refused. Not even the alt-media investigators have pursued him.

But it’s already clear what Carter thinks. He believes he scored one of the wold’s great strategic victories; he is disgruntled that he has never received the public credit he thinks he deserves. In the words of one of the CIA men in charge of Afghanistan operations in 1979, Carter’s strategy was to wage the “fight [against] the Soviets that went on to win the final and decisive battle of the Cold War.”

A new book by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, just published, opens the story of what Brzezinski and Carter really did to start the US war in Afghanistan, starting with the assassination of Adolph Dubs, the US Ambassador in Kabul on February 14, 1979; his killing with four pistol shots to head in a Kabul hotel room, the book concludes, was part of the White House plot.

“Some unnamed Americans claimed the Soviets wanted Dubs out of the way so they could set up for their invasion,” Fitzgerald and Gould report. They go on to name the Americans, one an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Kabul, another a CIA agent.  “But the Soviets got along famously with Dubs because he wasn’t an anti-Soviet Russophobe like Brzezinski. There was also plenty of evidence to show the Soviets didn’t want to invade. They went on record with the U.S. embassy throughout the summer of 1979 trying everything to avoid it. And besides, the rules of the game made ambassadors virtually untouchable. There was no upside to killing one, and a big downside.”

The assassination of Dubs, Fitzgerald and Gould argue, “led to the Soviet invasion nine months later….Who would kill an ambassador? Not a rival superpower trying to get the American Congress to sign a nuclear arms deal they’d desperately needed. And certainly not a third-world backwater desperate for U.S. aid and recognition. Only someone trying to provoke retribution. And who would want that retribution? Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski blamed the Russians, but then Brzezinski always blamed the Russians… If it hadn’t been for the Dubs murder there would never have been a Soviet invasion.”

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CATHERINE BELTON LOSES FIRST TRUTH TEST, RUPERT MURDOCH PUBLISHER TO RETRACT, APOLOGISE — REUTERS PRETENDS IT ISN’T SO

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Catherine Belton (lead image, left), a reporter on Russia for the Financial Times and Reuters, was abandoned this week by her publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s (right) HarperCollins, and obliged to sign an out-of-court settlement in London with Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven of Alfa Bank and the LetterOne group.

The publisher has agreed to admit there was “no significant evidence” for Belton’s allegations of KGB connections in the early careers of Fridman and Aven; and that she had failed to check her claims with Fridman and Aven before publishing them. “HarperCollins and [Belton] recognise and regret that comment was not sought earlier from Mr Aven and Mr Fridman… and to apologise that the subject was not discussed with them prior to initial publication.”

HarperCollins will publish this statement within a week of the High Court issuing its order. Three months ago, the publisher had announced it “will robustly defend the claim and the right to report on matters of considerable public interest”.  The publisher has now  agreed to remove Belton’s allegations against Fridman and Aven from new printings of the book, Putin’s People:  How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West.

The hardcover edition was published in April 2020 in the UK; the following June in the US. The American publisher is a subsidiary of the German Holtzbrinck publishing group, which produces the anti-Russia newspaper Die Zeit.  The paperback edition of Belton’s book has not yet been published, delayed indefinitely by the London court action and by the publishers’ loss of confidence in Belton’s veracity. 

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THE DUTCH INVASION PLAN OF DONBASS BEFORE THE DOWNING OF MH17 ON JULY 17, 2014

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Two Dutch nationals, David Petraeus and Sandra Roelofs (lead image, centre), were involved in the US planning of an invasion of the Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, in the days running up to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, when 193 Dutch and 38 Australians were among the 298 passengers and crew killed.  

Petraeus, a US Army general and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2011-November 9, 2012), is a Dutch citizen by law because his father, Sixtus Petraeus from Friesland, was a junior officer in the Dutch merchant marine at the outbreak of World War II. David Petraeus was awarded a Dutch knighthood in 2010 and is celebrated by the Dutch as “the most visible Dutch American personality on the national and international scene”.

Roelofs, Dutch by birth in Zeeland, became the wife of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (left) in 1993, and she has remained his collaborator in open political as well as clandestine operations in Georgia, Ukraine, and the US since then.

In the early days of July 2014, when the Ukrainian forces of then-President Petro Poroshenko were launching their US-directed offensive in the Donbass, Petraeus met Saakashvili at the latter’s home with Roelofs in New York to discuss a military operation which Saakashvili then discussed with Poroshenko. Last week, speaking on Ukrainian television as a member of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, Saakashvili broke his silence to reveal partial details of the military plan.  

Did either or both of them engage Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s (right) government before July 17, 2014, in readiness for Rutte’s promotion of the NATO force invasion plan immediately afterwards? Rutte’s involvement in that plan was first revealed by the Dutch press on July 25, 2014.

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NOW AND THEN – WHY WILLIAM BRUMFIELD’S PHOTOGRAPHS OF RUSSIA ARE US WAR PROPAGANDA

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

William Brumfield is an American university professor who has specialised in photographing Russian architecture before the Revolution, especially churches. His pictures are optimistic, not so much for the revival of the Orthodox God as for the recovery of Church property from before (lead image, right).  If one of Brumfield’s pictures could do for a thousand words, the record of Russian atheism (lead image, left), secularism, communism, collectivisation and socialism would be erased as if it had never existed.

Brumfield has visited Russia more than fifty times in the past fifty years. In 2019 he was awarded the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin, though not personally. The medal was sent to the Russian Embassy in Washington, and that’s where Brumfield collected it. The award is a multi-purpose one for foreigners; it has also gone to Gennady Timchenko’s wife and daughter for their good works as ex-Russian Finnish nationals. Since 2014 they have all been targeted by US Treasury sanctions.

Brumfield’s newest book is a candidate for selection in London as Pushkin House’s best book on Russia for 2021.  That’s if the selection committee agree to count it on their short list to be announced shortly.  The committee is run this year by two well-known Russia haters, Fiona Hill of the US National Security Council  and the ex-NATO secretary-general George Robertson.

Brumfield’s book is called “Journeys through the Russian Empire”. It reproduces the photographs of Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, taken between 1903 and 1916, displayed side by side with attempts at reproducing the same shots taken by Brumfield between 1972 and 2018.

Except for a brief record of the mosques and medrassas of Bukhara and Samarkand, the majority of both sets of photographs is of churches and monasteries located outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Brumfield is vague on what Prokudin-Gorsky was doing; he provides no direct diary excerpts,  letters, notes, or contemporary versions of what the photographer was thinking at the time. Brumfield appears not to have read Prokudin-Gorsky’s memoirs, published in France in 1932 and quoted in the Russian website dedicated to the Russian photographer since 2011.  

Brumfield is also fuzzy on what he’s been doing himself. He concedes “the nostalgic appeal of a lost world vividly rediscovered in brilliant colour. These photographs transport us back in time and create an illusion of memory”. But since Brumfield thinks he knows what happened next better than Prokudin-Gorsky could, the “nostalgic interpretations…may be superficially appealing, but they ignore a larger, at times devastating, context.”

Brumfield doesn’t mean the German wars on Russia;  nor the civil war invasions by armies from Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey, France, Britain and the US;  nor the current US-NATO war.  He is only thinking of the revolution of 1917 and of “the next decade…years of war, social collapse, hunger and savage violence”. On the one hand, Brumfiield acknowledges “the perspective that Prokudin-Gorsky implicitly endorses in his photographs is that of Russians as bringers of progress and amelioration”. On the other hand, he thinks the subsequent history didn’t bring that about either.  He doesn’t quite dare to say that he blames the godless Russians.  “Historical buildings are a form of real estate and as such are subject to competing interests. The survival or destruction of architectural landmarks – and specifically those photographed by Prokudin-Gorsky – may reflect many, seemingly contradictory impulses. We have noted the important role played by the Russian Orthodox Church in the process of restoration, yet the Church has often been criticized by preservationists for renovations taken after the restitution of church property”.

This is a book to help western readers imagine there would be a better Russia if only the present leadership would sign terms of capitulation; they are the terms which Fiona Hill and George Robertson have made their careers thinking up, promoting in public, failing to achieve on the war front.   

The book is a large volume of the sort publishers market to readers intending to display, flat on their coffee tables, how cultivated their owners are.  In this context – cocktails this evening, war tomorrow – it might have been better if Brumfield had presented his collection of matching pre-1917 and pre-1991 photographs without writing a word. That way the photographs would speak for themselves to “the competing interests”. Brumfield might have left the words to Hill and Robertson whom those fond of Russian culture can safely ignore.

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BLINDNESS FOLLOWED BY DELIRIUM, DIARRHEA – SYMPTOMS REPORTED AS COVID-19 KILLS LAST SURVIVING AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISTS – LIST OF HOTSPOTS

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The last survivors of Australian journalism have succumbed to complications of Covid-19 infection.

Following the publication in the US at the beginning of this week of the first book to investigate  the pandemic lawlessness which has taken hold in Melbourne, the second city of Australia,  reporters for the mainstream Australian media and the alternative media have suffocated after opening the first pages of the book,  but before they were able to report its contents.

The fatalities are not considered suspicious, although in December a state-appointed commission of inquiry reported that officials of the Victorian state government had been negligent in their administration of pandemic emergency powers. Three resignations were forced; no corruption charges have been prosecuted. State MPs are trying to open a parliamentary debate on more than $200 million in unaccounted-for state spending on police, hospitals, hotels, lawyers, medical research units, and university think-tanks. 

An investigation was opened this week by the Judicial Commission of Victoria into the disappearance, loss, or possibly destruction of hearing records for the only case in the Australian courts to challenge the legality of the ban on Australians returning home from abroad, and the closure of Melbourne’s international airport.

Here is the list of the reporters who were diagnosed before they could report on the book; also the infection hotspots which readers are recommended to avoid. Genomic testing is still under way to determine which mutation has proved fatal to Australian reporters, half of whom are employed by Rupert Murdoch; they were immunocompromised before the pandemic started.   

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NOW THAT JOHN LE CARRÉ IS DEAD, IT’S TIME TO REMEMBER ERIC AMBLER

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Elephants are the truly self-knowing creatures of our world.

We know this because when they are about to die, they go somewhere no one else can find. It’s the elephantine way of saying they aren’t convinced they are leaving anything behind that’s worth remembering, so in their last act of will, they escape the speculators.   

Not so writers, especially the big-money ones. Thus, when John Le Carré (aka David Cornwell) died over the weekend, we know that it happened in Truro, Cornwall; in a hospital; and that the cause of death was pneumonia, but not the Covid-19 type.  He was 89 years old.  

His commission agent issued a statement claiming he should be remembered for having “define[d] the Cold War era with the help of his character, George Smiley, and through his complex plots and beautiful prose, beamed a harsh light at the injustices of our world.” In marketing circles this is known as talking your book. The agent attached two hyperboles – one approximately true, one absolutely false. “He has sold more than sixty million copies of his work worldwide. His like will never be seen again.”

The Murdoch Times also tried hyperbole: “[Le Carré] created a new school of fiction, not so much spy stories as anti-spy stories, convoluted tales of disillusionment and betrayal.” The Financial Times cut the pedestal down by several notches. “[He] elevat[ed] the spy novel to a higher literary form that reached well beyond the flimsy, hard-boiled, action-packed capers often common to the genre.” If you think about that for an instant, it’s no reach at all. It’s a description of the FT’s reporting on Russia.     

The Guardian momentarily suspended its Russia-hating obsession to record the career and personal betrayals Cornwell performed against fellow Englishmen when he was employed as an agent, first of MI5 and then of MI6. Evidently, there was much worse he did to them, but the newspaper’s obituarist added: “the precise details of his work have never been spoken of.” This comes close to the truth about the Le Carré books – from them we learn next to nothing about the other side, only how discreditable our side is.

“Always George’s problem,” le Carré wrote in his last tale of his best-known MI6 officer, George Smiley, “seeing both sides of everything.” About the Russians, not so — not Smiley,  certainly not Le Carré.  

It was clear last year that he had ceased to have his wits about him when he wrote the following to be pasted on the front cover of a book MI6 had dictated about the Skripal affair  to a BBC correspondent called Mark Urban. “A scrupulous piece of reporting,” Le Carré wrote —  “necessary, timely and very sobering”. Later, when the evidence was pointed out to Le Carré that he had been quite wrong, and was asked to set his own record straight, he arranged the following pretence with his agent. She wrote: “Mr Cornwell is away writing currently and has asked that we decline all requests for him at this time.”

Now that Le Carré is away permanently, it is time to remember his predecessor, Eric Ambler (lead image, left and right). He died also aged 89; that was in London in 1998. At the time it was said he had “raised the thriller to the level of literature. He brought intellectual substance to the genre at a time when it often suffered from shortages of surprise, maturity, verisimilitude and literary skill.”

On his way out, Ambler said: “Thrillers are respectable now. Back in the beginning, people weren’t quite that sure about them. But ‘they really say more about the way people think and governments behave than many of the conventional novels. A hundred years from now, if they last, these books may offer some clues to what was going on in our world.”

With elephantine flair he titled his autobiography “Here Lies Eric Ambler”. There Ambler tells of creating “Soviet agents who were on the side of angels”, and the “only Communist Party speaker who ever carried conviction with me”. Ambler amused himself, and also the reader, when eating eggs on toast in a café on the Edgware Road with the Communist and a professional burglar. According to Ambler, the latter told the former: “I suppose you could say that I redistribute wealth”.

In the real world Cornwell would have reported to his superiors on them both; in his fiction Le Carré would have affected guilt.   Ambler judged both to be laughable, the latter more so.

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THE MH17 SHOOT-DOWN WAS A BIG MONEY-MAKER FOR THE DUTCH POLICE, PROSECUTORS, JUDGES TOO

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The Dutch police have hired a professor called Maurice Punch to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. He tried; the Dutch police think he succeeded in a report called “Passionate Professionals: The Dutch Police Response to the Shooting Down of Malaysian Airlines’ MH17 in the Ukraine.”   Punch concluded that to the Dutch police the MH17 disaster has been worth its weight in guilders, I mean gold.

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ANGELA STENT INFLATES BALLOON IN US WARFIGHTING AGAINST RUSSIA

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

A stent is a contraption which cardiologists have invented for opening a blockage in an artery so that blood can flow normally. Without it, the blockage will eventually lead to failure of circulation – an explosion of blood, the destruction of the artery, death.

Angela Stent considers herself a contraption to save US policymaking towards Russia from defeat and destruction. Instead, however, the book she’s written illustrates the opposite. She’s not the saving surgeon, but the collapsing patient, whose failure to understand the basics of circulation makes effective repair impossible, and is bound to lead, if not to an explosion of blood, then to the accelerated demise of the command system Stent represents.  

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THE GOSPEL VERSION OF RUSSIA – CATHERINE BELTON AND SERGEI PUGACHEV PREACH A SERMON FOR RUPERT MURDOCH TO SELL, AND FOR LUKE HARDING TO PROSELYTISE

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

If Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot and Joshua Barabbas had combined to produce the eye-witness book on the life and death of Jesus Christ, whose anniversary falls this month, it wasn’t heard of when it was newsworthy, in the first years of the first century AD; readers have been deterred from looking for it ever since. Religious faith does that sort of thing to eye-witness testimony, documents, financial accounts, court rulings and other forms of evidence.

Likewise, Catherine Belton (lead image, centre) has produced a book with Sergei Pugachev (left), the man who stole more than two billion dollars from the Central Bank of Russia and other banks; was convicted in a British court of trying to hide it; fled to France to escape two years in prison if the English can catch him. Paying to print and market their collaboration is Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s (first right) media holding, News Ltd.

Together, Belton and Pugachev have composed a gospel about the evil that is Russia under President Vladimir Putin, and the virtue they say they believed in when Boris Yeltsin was ruler. “We were sitting in the kitchen of Pugachev’s latest residence, a three-storey townhouse in the well-heeled London area of Chelsea,” Belton begins, introducing the faith the two of them share with Mikhail Khodorkovsky (lead image, extreme right); the ghost of the hanged Boris Berezovsky; Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin’s son-in-law; and others identified anonymously as the collaborators upon whom Belton relies and whom she requires her co-religionists to accept as gospel too.

Three disciples have sworn their faith publicly so far – Luke Harding of The Guardian; Edward Lucas of The Times, and Oliver Bullough, once a reporter at the BBC. “The most remarkable account so far,” says Harding,  “of Putin’s rise from a KGB operative to deadly agent provocateur in the hated west”.   “Its only flaw,” Harding  mentions, “is a heavy reliance on well-placed anonymous sources. Talking publicly about Kremlin corruption is dangerous, as the polonium fate of Alexander Litvinenko shows. Still, the lack of names can be frustrating.” Frustrating is the word that came to St. Paul’s mind when he was having directional trouble on the road between Jerusalem and Damascus. Inadmissible in a court of law, Pilate would have said.  A pack of lies, according to Judas and Barabbas.

“Fact, not fiction,” declared Edward Lucas, an employee on the fiction floor of the same London office building as Harper Collins. “Catherine Belton, for years a Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, relates it with clarity, detail, insight and bravery.” “The Putin book that we’ve been waiting for,” Bullough said messianically.     You won’t be risking perdition yourself if you don’t wait.

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY PARADOX SOLVED – WHY DOES SUCH A SMART INTELLIGENCE AGENCY KEEP GETTING OUTSMARTED BY THE RUSSIANS?

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Now for a psycho-shocker of a spy story in which the National Security Agency’s (NSA) chief of the Research Directorate goes head to head with Russians whom his research proves tried “to change the outcome of our presidential election”, and then tried to kill Sergei Skripal to “serve[d] as a warning to Russia’s adversaries”.

The psycho-shock has already happened to the NSA chief and storyteller, Eric Haseltine (lead images),  so he is paralysed by a Russian weapon that’s about to psycho-shock the reader. That’s you.

After you read this, you will never again be able to type on a keyboard without anticipating that the “diabolically clever” Russians are reading every word. But maybe you are suspicious the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) might be doing the same thing? “Naw”, says Michael Arneson, Haseltine’s hero and NSA engineer from a dirt poor Minnesota family with no more than a high school diploma, and whose favourite drink is Mr Pibb. “The CIA is way too incompetent to create something this good.”  In this tale,  American heroes fit to fight the Russians and save you from your keyboards,  talk like that.

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SKRIPAL IN PRISON – THE FIRST BOOK TO REPORT THE TRUTH

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It is exactly two years since the case of two Russians, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, began with their collapse on a park bench in the middle of England on the afternoon of March 4, 2018.

On their anniversary it is necessary to tell this story. But it isn’t the story of what happened. This is because the only people who can tell that one, the Skripals, are locked away in isolation, guarded by determined men under secret government orders.

Instead, this is the story of what didn’t happen – provably didn’t happen because it was quite impossible circumstantially; and because the legal papers warranting that it did have not been signed by a judge, tested in a court of law, or released in public.

The facts which you have seen, heard or read about the incident of March 4, 2018, have been falsified. Everything that has flowed from them is false too.  Understanding this is a start to the other story, and so something solid to work from – not missed until now; more like seen but disbelieved. As if the truth were fiction, and the fiction truth.

This is the story of how the largest and longest criminal investigation in modern British history ended in a prosecution without evidence of the crime, the weapon, the crime scene, and even of the crime victims. Allegations there are; evidence admissible in a British court of law there is not. That’s to say, a prosecution which will not be presented in court, before no judge and jury; with no witnesses on oath; and no verdict. That is no prosecution at all.

To say otherwise, as do the British Government, its allies abroad, and every one of its mass circulation media without exception, is a lie. The victims, it turns out, are held in a British prison, at a secret location, incommunicado, without access to lawyers to defend them, without contact with their families, or the consular representatives of the state whose passports they hold. No court has judged them or sentenced them to this punishment.

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ROBERT SERVICE’S PATHETIC FALLACY — BRITISH WARFIGHTER’S GUIDE TO TARGETTING VLADIMIR PUTIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Robert Service (lead images) commits the pathetic fallacy over and over.

It isn’t that his fallacies are pathetic, and so deserve to be pitied. It is that Service takes money for writing histories, purporting to be about Russia, its revolutionary leaders, and now its current leader, by projecting his own emotions on to his targets. It’s the kind of personification intended to convince readers of the hostility of his Russian targets, and Service’s wisdom in judging them for what they are; that’s to say, what deserves to be done to them (if they aren’t dead yet) by people like Service.

Service is a propagandist for Russia-hating, Kremlin-changing warfare. His output is a stream of books aimed by Pan Macmillan — now a German-owned publisher with most of its sales in the US — at American readers inveigled into wanting war with Russia.  

“I came to this project after serving as a witness in the Berezovski v. Abramovich trial in 2011-2012”, Service says by way of his oath to tell the truth at the start of his new testimony against Vladimir Putin. Service’s book, released this week, is called “Kremlin Winter: Russia and the Second Coming of Vladimir Putin.”   From the start line at the title, the assumption is Service’s war-fighting one: Putin is omnipotent in Russia – topple him so the world, as Service is paid to represent it, will be safe from global winter and other Kremlin hostilities.  

What Service doesn’t acknowledge is that he was hired by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich to testify as an expert in the High Court case against Boris Berezovsky. Service’s fee is also undisclosed; it would have been more than a vet’s (£90 per hour) but less than a neurosurgeon’s (£171). 

Berezovsky also hired a historian as his witness. Testifying in court at the time, Service warned against the other expert:  “I’m asked to give evidence here as a historian, I don’t accept anybody’s word, just because they say that something happened, without the kind of evidence to back it that does not come from the person who is saying it. So there has to be a sort of — in a perfect world, there has to be a multiplicity of sources to corroborate anything as having happened or not having happened… I would just add the reservation that the statements by big businessmen in Russia in the 1990s about what they did or did not do are riddled with cases of falsification, obfuscation and the rest of it. One has to be very, very careful about accepting anything from any of them.” The evidence for the history of Russia in the 1990s, he concluded, “is just not in yet.”  

Service’s book violates his own warning.

He also starts his book with an acknowledgement of the sources he’s “indebted to”. They include Luke Harding, a London newspaper reporter; Radosław Sikorski, ex-Polish foreign minister; Michael McFaul, ex-US Ambassador to Moscow, Catherine Ashton, ex-European Union foreign affairs commissioner; Toomas Hendrik Ilves, an ex-Estonian president; and Roderic Lyne, vice-chairman of the Chatham House think-tank.   A book on Russian politics with Russia-hating, warfighting sources like these cannot be believed. They are all in the same trench, on the other side of No-Man’s-Land.  (more…)

STEPHEN KOTKIN’S HISTORY OF STALIN IS THE CLINICAL CASE BOOK OF AN AMERICAN OBSESSION

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

What can Foreign Affairs, bimonthly tribune of the Council of Foreign Affairs in New York, be referring to when it reported on the government for which “in worldview and practice, it was a conspiracy that perceived conspiracy everywhere and in everything, constantly gaslighting itself. In administration, it constituted a crusade for planning and control that ended up generating a proliferation of improvised illegalities, a perverse drive for order, and a system in which propaganda and myths about ‘the system’ were the most systematized part.”

Need a clue? On the head of government’s left foot two of his toes were webbed. Still stumped? (more…)

WE ARE BUILDING CAPITULATIONISM! – PICTURE-BOOK TO REMEMBER MOSCOW BY

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Harry Lime, the Third Man, was the character invented by British novelist and one-time intelligence officer Graham Greene, who understood how investment bankers operate when the breakdown of government makes the black market the only source of supply, trade, and profit. Lime’s racket in post-war 1948 Vienna, then occupied by the allied armies, was to steal penicillin from military hospitals; adulterate it by half; then sell it back at double the official price.

In the famous Ferris wheel conversation, high above the Vienna fairground, Lime is asked by his American journalist friend about the morality of making a profit this way. Pointing to people on the ground, Lime responds: “Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stops moving — forever? If I offered you twenty thousand for every dot that stops, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays.”

Down on the ground in Moscow,  in the ruins of the country led by Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, who cared if the dots stopped moving? And in the moral order created then by the US and British governments and their media, acting prime minister Yegor Gaidar and privatization chief Anatoly Chubais, what loss was there to the future of Russia when, like dots,  about ten million people and about twenty million animals stopped moving?

That’s the count of the Russians who would have survived to the average life expectancy of the Soviet welfare state, if Yeltsin and his associates hadn’t destroyed the health care system, their bank savings, employment wages, pensions, and food supplies. It’s also the count of farm livestock slaughtered when the costs of operating collective agriculture outstripped the state budget to pay them, and cattle were killed for immediate cash in the market place.

Robert Stephenson’s newly published book of photographs are of Moscow during the revolution between 1991, when Yeltsin took power from Mikhail Gorbachev, and 1996, when Yeltsin rigged his re-election as president. It’s a combination of bird’s eye view, Graham Greene and Harry Lime-style, with close-ups of the dots. That’s to say, the destruction and the casualties. (more…)

FAKING FICTION IS LUCRATIVE, ALSO DANGEROUS – MIKHAIL SHOLOKHOV’S STORY

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Somerset Maugham, the leading story-teller in the Anglo-American market a century ago, said there are three rules for writing a best-seller, but he added: “no one knows what they are.” As unlikely as it is for the profitability of a major line of business to be as unpredictable and irrational as Maugham claimed publishing was, writers and readers go on believing it. It’s the big fiction — talent versus the law of the market.

Mikhail Sholokhov was both talented and also the best-selling writer of the Soviet period.  The centenary of his birth on May 25, 2005, was celebrated by President Vladimir Putin with a visit to Sholokhov’s home and family in the Rostov region.  “Isn’t there anything to remember from the Soviet period except Stalin’s prison camps and repressions?” Putin had asked in a presentation to the State Duma of new legislation on the Russian state symbols.  “What about Dunayevsky, Sholokhov, Shostakovich, Korolyov and our space achievements?” Sholokhov is the only writer on that list.

He was — he still is a symbol of the state. For that reason, although he died in 1984, his four-volume work, Quiet Don (Тихий Дон; also And Quiet Flows the Don), published between 1928 and 1940, continues to draw fierce argument in the Russian press. The first of the allegations against him is that he plagiarized the Quiet Don. That began almost immediately after the first volume was first published in 1928; the debate continues this year on Russian television and the internet.  The second allegation is that Sholokhov and his book would not have succeeded if not for the protection and patronage of Josef Stalin; the charge against Sholokhov’s work is that it’s the discreditable product of Stalinism.

A newly published book by an American academic, Brian Boeck, gives the lie to both these  charges against Sholokhov. But Boeck does much more. He reveals the history of money-grubbing, death-dealing faction-fighting among Russian writers which hasn’t stopped. And that’s the law of the market, which the writers (and other Russian artists and intellectuals) cannot  escape, not under Stalin before, nor under Putin now. The law of the market is that competition for money generates fraud, faking, and when everything else fails in time of war, violence. (more…)

THE FICKLE FINGER IS STILL VASILY GROSSMAN’S FATE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Journalism is war by other means. If you don’t understand this you are either an enlisted soldier or a  casualty with a serious head-wound.  On the ground covered by journalism it’s impossible to hide;  innocent civilians are inevitably caught in the cross-fire.

Most Russians have known this since the start of the nineteenth century.

After Anton Chekhov’s reports from Sakhalin were published between 1891 and 1893, Russian  journalism didn’t recover to his standard for fifty years. It began again at the German invasion on June 22, 1941. But it lasted for just four years – until the Red Army victory in Berlin and the capitulation of the Germans in May 1945.

Vasily Grossman (lead image) was one of the very best of the Russian reporters on the front in that brief period. He far excelled his English-writing peers on other fronts, particularly American fakers like Ernest Hemingway. 

A new biography of Grossman, published in the US, reveals in Grossman’s own words why he is still a model of the genre in Russian. It also explains how and why he was silenced on orders of Josef Stalin, and his major book, combining his battlefield notes and interviews, banned from 1961 until 1988.  

“Evil is overthrown”, Grossman reportedly said to another Russian correspondent on the roof of the Reichstag on May 2, 1945. Just for the time being, he acknowledged later on.

There can be no irony, just dismay that Grossman’s biography demonstrates that the biographer, Alexandra Popoff, a Russian turned Canadian, and her publisher, the Yale University Press, have no comprehension of what Grossman meant, nor of his lesson for journalism the world over – that evil isn’t overthrown.  That today, as you read this, it’s alive and well in Canada and at Yale University, not to mention Berlin (again), Paris, London, Washington, and not to forget, Moscow (again). Grossman the Russian soldier is on the opposite side from Popoff the American soldier. (more…)

IF EVERYTHING JOHN LE CARRÉ WROTE SINCE 1961 ON BRITISH SPYING AGAINST MOSCOW WAS TRUE – IT WAS — WHY READ THE NEW LE CARRÉ BOOK NOW?

By John Helmer, Moscow

“Always George’s problem,” John le Carré (lead image, left) has written in his latest resurrection of his best-known MI6 officer, George Smiley (right), “seeing both sides of everything. Wore him out.”

“Breathtaking”, claimed an Irish novelist with no government experience, in a London newspaper review. “Gripping”, chimed a BBC journalist whose only official secret was an affair with another journalist he tried to stop other journalists reporting. “An unexpected treat”, blurbed one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper employees. “A nostalgic comparison between espionage then and now”, blurbed another. The Los Angeles Times was religious about le Carré’s theme —  “the toll exacted on the individual’s [spy] soul  by serving institutions that fail to live up to their professed values  will resonate as [readers] consider past and present  covert actions of British and US governments.”  This is a bite-back for the virulent hatred for the US and its intelligence services le Carré has written into his story, including disclosure of the MI6 document handling code, GUARD, which is so secret the British Government doesn’t mention it in its classification guidelines.   It means keep secret from Americans.

David Ignatius, a career-long mouthpiece for the US services at the Washington Post, warns his readers.  Le Carré “is at his worst describing characters he doesn’t like (in his recent books, many of the heavy-handed, unconvincing figures are American intelligence officers).”

Since the majority of le Carré’s readers are Americans,  le Carré is asking them to pay money and wear themselves out seeing both sides of everything. Only le Carré’s intelligence officers never see the Russian side of anything. What they do see – le Carré makes the point repeatedly in A Legacy of Spies, now in its fifth printing   – is the pointlessness of the intelligence they target, and the worthlessness of their methods for going about it. (more…)

FANATICAL HISTORY OF RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS FROM PRINCETON

By John Helmer, Moscow

Jonathan Haslam, an Englishman employed by Anglo-American universities to report Soviet and Russian political, military and espionage history for the past century until now, suffers from a tic.  That’s tic as in fanatic, the adjective Haslam applies to everyone who is a target of his history. But look again: Haslam’s tic turns out to be a symptom of the one-eyed man who believes he’s king (professor) in the kingdom (university) of the blind.   (more…)

KEITH GESSEN’S TERRIBLE RUSSIAN PREDICAMENT

By John Helmer, Moscow

A bad smell is emitted by those who go about their business claiming to be more virtuous than others when they are not. Take Keith (Konstantin) Gessen’s (lead image) newly published autobiography cum novel about his time in Moscow. The word for the book is a cross between the noun fart and the adjective virtuous; that’s to say, fatuous.

Six blurb endorsements covering the dust-jacket can’t improve on this because the endorsers have no expertise or experience of Russia, and are obligated to Gessen personally, institutionally or commercially, by way of Harvard University, Columbia University, the New Yorker, and Gessen’s personal magazine N+1.  In short, they are back-scratchers, log-rollers.

In New York Yiddish, the term for them is mishpocha. That means the family of people who understand what the word means; for them it’s a mitzvah (good deed required by religious duty) to help each other make money.  If you know the meaning of both words, you are ready for the Woody Allen world in which Gessen makes his money. Make that the Woody-Allen-world-before-the-sex-and #MeToo-scandals.

If there’s a difference between that world and the Russia which Gessen’s book claims to be about, this  doesn’t matter to him, and especially not to the mishpocha, whose mitzvah it is to tell you to buy this book.  If you are resisting, there’s a reason for those of you who don’t belong to the mishpocha and who don’t come from New York, to continue reading this review. That’s because Gessen, Russian born and Russian taught though he is, is a perfect example of the American inability to understand two vital lessons for American-Russian relations for the foreseeable future.  

Lesson No. 1:  Americans, the alt-right, alt-left, Clintonites, Trumpies, CIA, FBI and Pentagon  — all of them have failed to understand Vladimir Putin, particularly his weaknesses. Lesson No. 2 follows: the war the US has launched against Russia, a war no American is capable of stopping now, or even slowing down, will produce the very opposite of its regime-changing goal. This opposite, this outcome, is the Stavka – a military regime which has the capital, the force multiple,  the intelligence,  and the relative lack of corruption to defeat whatever Russia’s enemies  throw at it, and enjoy popular approval for doing so.  By the way, the Stavka will have an articulate civilian for spokesman – that’s Vladimir Putin.   (more…)

MACHIAVELLI’S THIRTEEN RULES FOR THE SUCCESSFUL RULER – TWO VLADIMIR PUTIN DID LEARN; ELEVEN HE DIDN’T, NOT YET

By John Helmer, Moscow

December approaches, opening the last stretch of the presidential election campaign that  concludes in sixteen weeks’ time, on March 18.

What to watch for as President Vladimir Putin holds his December meetings with the oligarchs who rule Russia’s future, and the voters who will be the victims of it?  As the Russian Orthodox Church has warned, beware the ruler who is pragmatic, and the 16th century Italian, Niccolo Machiavelli – Satan’s finger, according to holy sermons —  who teaches rulers not simply to lower moral standards, but to abolish them entirely.

Not for the Church can the presidential election be a Machiavellian choice between greater and lesser evils, between means justifying ends, between material prosperity and spiritual poverty.  “The devil is not a fairy tale,” a recent Church homily argued, “he is a brilliant strategist and psychologist, and he is supremely real. The arguments of Machiavelli [are] his most successful deception to date… Machiavelli was the inventor of hypocrisy, since he was the inventor of propaganda. He was the first philosopher who wanted to change the world by propaganda.”

Propaganda cannot be the method, the Russian Church preaches; nor hypocrisy the presidential election outcome. However, between propaganda and hypocrisy, that’s what half the Russian electorate thinks is the choice. According to the Levada Centre poll  released this week, 42% of voters say the election outcome will make no difference to their lives; 45% believe it might; 13% are uncertain and so distrustful of the pollster they won’t say anything.

So how close, or how far from Machiavelli’s model ruler, is Putin the frontrunner, and what does the president himself think of Machiavelli? (more…)

WHY THERE CAN’T BE AN UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS TELEVISION HIT IN RUSSIA – TEFFI ILLUSTRATES

By John Helmer, Moscow

The grand house domestic serial which has been one of the staples of British television is quite impossible in Russia. That’s not because pre-revolutionary Russia lacked the aristo palaces and gilded families, or that nostalgia isn’t popular on television. It’s because the gap between the upstairs family and the downstairs servants was always too wide in Russia – and always too cruel.

It’s not different today. The recent promotion in London and republication of the stories and memoirs of Teffi (lead image), the short-story fabulist, memoirist, poet and playwright who left Russia for Paris in 1919, illustrates the point – and not much else. (more…)

BARRY PARSNIP FOR THE NOBEL PRIZE – HOW INFO-WARFARE AGAINST RUSSIA WORKED BEFORE, NOT SO WELL THESE DAYS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

 If you were the only person in the world who thought yourself a genius, it would be an embarrassment to be named Barry Parsnip.

Robert Zimmerman solved the nomenclature problem. He became Bob Dylan – and Hey Presto! He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016.

Barry Parsnip (aka Boris Pasternak) didn’t solve the problem. But it was solved for him by a combination of the British, US and Soviet secret services, with an assist from the Dutch and Italians.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1958 before his novel, Doctor Zhivago, had been read in the original Russian by more than a thousand people, counting government officials. Following the prize-giving until now, about 10 million people have read it, mostly in translation. But time and numbers haven’t improved either on Parsnip or on Zhivago. It is still, as Vladimir Nabokov said at the start, “a sorry thing, clumsy, trite, and melodramatic, with stock situations, voluptuous lawyers, unbelievable girls, romantic robbers, and trite coincidences.”  Kornei  Chukovsky, Pasternak’s neighbour and comrade, thought the novel was “boring, banal.”  Yevgeny Yevtushenko said it was “disappointing”. Anna Akhmatova told Pasternak to his face that Zhivago was a bad novel “except for the landscapes.” She was being ironic – there are no landscapes in the book.

Not to Pasternak’s face, Nabokov went for Pasternak’s jugular – his vanity. Nabokov called Pasternak’s composition “goistrous and goggle-eyed.”  That turned out to be the perfect picture of a victim, and MI6 and the CIA were able to provoke the Soviet authorities into persecution  of Pasternak the victim. That operation, codenamed AEDINOSAUR,  confirmed  what the West wanted the world to believe – that Russians are bad by a standard noone else in the world is held to.

Pasternak’s story, when it happened and still today,  is also confirmation of the readiness of some Russians to believe that however crapulous and despised they are at home, there will always be love for them across the frontier, in the West.   (more…)

Afterword: More Secrets, More Fabrications

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Max Hastings’s hatred of Russians not only produces error after error to discredit the Russian side of his history of secret intelligence operations in World War II. The evidence Greek historians have uncovered and published of what the British secret services, directed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, did to prepare the ground for the Greek civil war, beginning in December 1944, discredits Hastings on the Greek front.
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THE WEASEL HISTORY OF SECRET INTELLIGENCE IN WARTIME

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Sir Max Hastings, author of a new book claiming to be the first to compare the secret intelligence performances of the British, Americans, Germans, Japanese and Russians in World War II, has posted a picture of himself on the dust-jacket as a weasel.

“The best single volume written on the subject” is the blurb on the dust-jacket as the opinion of the Sunday Times, whose proprietor Rupert Murdoch, is also Hastings’s paymaster as owner of the book’s publisher, William Collins. Everything about the history of Russian spying offends Hastings almost as much as everything Russian offends Murdoch. This isn’t so much a history as it’s a textbook in info-warfare – and the antithesis of the conclusion Hastings suggests we should all come to. This is that in war force wins, not words – and that secret intelligence and propaganda are largely a waste of money and lives. “Allied intelligence contributed almost nothing to winning the war, ”Hastings quotes an American friend and expert, demurring that “this seems too extreme a verdict”, while adding his own: “official secrecy does more to protect intelligence agencies from domestic accountability for their own follies.” The exception proving both rules, according to Hastings, is the record of British intelligence compared to German, and to Russian.

Deception, that’s another story – unless The Secret War is an example of how Hastings has fooled himself. On this score, Hastings’s 612 pages are an unprecedented achievement in decoding his own text, and warning his readers off it. Murdoch and his media have been duped by Hastings out of the truth, though not out of the profit.
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THE HEARTFELT HISTORY OF PARTISAN PHOTOJOURNALISTS AND FAKE PHOTO JOURNALISM — FOR VERACITY, LET’S HEAR IT FOR DRONES AND SATELLITES

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By John Helmer, Moscow

In a few days’ time, on August 1, Gerda Taro would have turned 104. The encomiums would have been bound to describe her as the oldest, possibly the first, woman photojournalist. But Taro hasn’t made it. Instead, on July 26, 1937, she died after being crushed by a Spanish Republican tank while the car she was riding on was strafed by an aircraft of the Condor Legion . She was just 27. At her funeral in Paris, the encomiums described her as a brave comrade in arms on the Republican side of Spain’s civil war. She was the first woman photojournalist to die in combat. The kaddish her father said at her coffin during the funeral was omitted from the coverage arranged by the French Photographers’ Union. Robert Capa, her lover who stole much of the credit for her work in the years to follow, wept buckets and stopped eating for a while.
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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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