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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ANDREI GURIEV IS RUSSIA’S ROBIN HOOD – HE TAKES PHOSAGRO SHARES FROM THE RICH AND GIVES THEM TO HIMSELF

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Russian fertilizer oligarch Andrei Guriev (lead image) lives in less than seclusion in London in the largest house of that city except for the Queen’s residence at Buckingham Palace. In 2015 the running costs of Guriev’s establishment were large but stable. But it occurred to him that the prospects of war between Russia and the US were so serious, he ought to take more cash out of his London-listed Russian phosphate producer Phosagro, which had been running at a loss the year before. So Guriev arranged for a dividend payout of 80% of the 2015 profit of Rb36.4 billion – that was Rb29 billion (about $470 million).  The percentage grab was a Russian oligarch record.

Guriev runs  a family business. He is deputy chairman of the 8-man board; his son Andrei Junior is chief executive; his wife Yevgenia Gurieva holds a 4.82% shareholding in her own name; and through Cyprus companies the Gurievs own another 45.5%. Or they did until recently, when Guriev arranged the sale of 4.5% of his shares for the purpose, he declared to the stock market, of buying 2.7% from another shareholder.

Noone in Russia or the London market knows why Guriev did such a thing, or why it made commercial sense to do so – unless Guriev was doing what a market source says he has always done. “Maybe he’s the trustee and nominee shareholder for someone else, and selling for that shareholder, not for himself.”   Guriev’s supporters in the market claim the deal was intended to improve the liquidity and share value of the company. But the result was the opposite — in the time Guriev took for his back-to-back deal between January and March, the Phosagro share price fell 15%. (more…)

ANDREI MELNICHENKO AND ALEXANDER MASHKEVICH – ROUND-2 DECIDED IN WASHINGTON

DwB_1745

By John Helmer, Moscow

Andrei Melnichenko’s Eurochem group, one of Russia’s largest producers of fertilizers, has responded to a New York lawsuit this month from Alexander Mashkevich’s International Mineral Resources (IMR). Mashkevich is accusing Melnichenko of paying American agents to hack into his company computers, steal sensitive information, and promote litigation and propaganda damaging to Mashkevich and his companies’ reputations. Melnichenko says he has been vindicated.

In a press release issued in Moscow yesterday, Eurochem announced it has won “favourable decisions” from a US federal district court in Washington, DC, whose rulings followed a week after the IMR filed its accusations in the New York Supreme Court. Eurochem, its release says, “has obtained favorable judicial decisions in its legal dispute with a contractor retained for the construction of the cage shaft at the Group’s potash mining project in Russia’s Gremyachinskoe deposit. On November 17-18, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a series of decisions rejecting all allegations that the consulting expert hired by EuroChem-VolgaKaliy had engaged in unlawful information-gathering activity.” The contractor referred to in the judgement is Shaft Sinkers, an associated company of IMR under Mashkevich’s control.

The opening of the Washington court files, which had remained sealed or unreported for more than a year, also exposes a world of Washington lobbying and propaganda targeted at the Kazakhstan Government and President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
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SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS – ALEXANDER MASHKEVICH ASKS NEW YORK JURY TO FIND ANDREI MELNICHENKO GUILTY OF BAD REPUTE, HACKING AND MEDIA MANIPULATION

DwB_1742

By John Helmer, Moscow

Proof that oligarchs have more money than sense isn’t hard to come by. For a man with no business reputation left to lose in London to ask a jury in New York to judge his business rival to be a scoundrel is a proof that Alexander Mashkevich (lead image, with glasses), control shareholder of International Mineral Resources, is determined to test against Andrei Melnichenko (lead image, without glasses), owner of the Eurochem fertilizer group.

International Mineral Resources (IMR), a Dutch company owned by Mashkevich and his two partners, Patokh Chodiev and Alijan Ibragimov, has been an offshoot of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC). When ENRC was at the peak of its London Stock Exchange value, Mashkevich was worth over $3 billion. He’s down to less than $2 billion now, according to Forbes which doesn’t count liabilities. Melnichenko, whose debts are also not counted by Forbes, is reported to be worth over $8 billion. By the arithmetical rule, having four times more money than Mashkevich, Melnichenko should have one-quarter the common sense. Or is it the other way round?
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DUTCH COURT SINKS ANDREI MELNICHENKO, REVIVES SHAFT SINKERS

dutch_court

By John Helmer, Moscow

A court in The Netherlands has dismissed a fraud claim for more than $800 million by Andrei Melnichenko against Alexander Mashkevich and the two other Kazakh owners of International Mineral Resources for lack of evidence. The 11-page judgement was issued by the District Court of Amsterdam on June 25. Three judges, A.W.H. Vink, K.M. van Hassel, and R. Raat, signed the unanimous ruling.

International Mineral Resources (IMR) is registered in Amsterdam, and is owned by Mashkevich, Patokh Chodiev, and Alijan Ibragmiov, the controlling shareholders of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC). The trio also hold a 48% stake in Shaft Sinkers (ShS), a South Africa-based, London-listed mine engineering company which specializes in building mine shafts. The lawsuit was initiated on March 25, 2013, by Melnichenko’s Volgograd-region potash mining subsidiary, EuroChem Volga-Kaliy LLC. This escalated the conflict between Melnichenko and Mashkevich, after they had failed in direct and indirect meetings to agree on compensation for the failure of Shaft Sinkers technology for one of the mineshafts at Eurochem’s newest potash mine, Gremyachinskoye, in the Volgograd region.
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IGOR SECHIN TO SULEIMAN KERIMOV — YOU’RE NOT A FERRARI, I’M NOT A PALM TREE

ferrari_tree

By John Helmer, Moscow

To the disability of being unable to speak his mind in public Suleiman Kerimov has the added handicap of being unable to accept how short his arms are, particularly when handling money from state banks. In overreaching himself Kerimov has provided a case study of how President Vladimir Putin expects the Russian oligarchy to conduct its business when state interests are at stake; and also of the continuing importance of former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, now chief executive of the Rosneft oil company.

In July Kerimov got too big for his boots when he believed he had Kremlin support for upsetting the potash cartel known as the Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), directly threatening President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. The BPC, headquartered in Minsk since 2005, was a Russian creation — successor to a line of trading organizations for the concealment of potash sale profits with names like Ferchimex (Belgium), Bermont (Switzerland), Fertexim (Cyprus), and Uralkali Trading (Switzerland). All of them were the creation of the fertilizer, I mean fertile, mind of Dmitry Rybolovlev, whom Sechin drove out of the potash business in 2010, replacing him with Kerimov. Sechin failed to oust Rybolovlev’s trader, Oleg Petrov, who stayed on to teach Kerimov the tricks of the trade.
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GUNG-HO OR GUNG-HOOEY – WHAT DID ANDREI MELNICHENKO KNOW, OR FAIL TO KNOW, ABOUT THE KREMLIN PLAN FOR THE POTASH PRICE?

gung-ho

By John Helmer, Moscow

On December 7, 2012, Andrei Melnichenko (image right, right) told prospective buyers of $750 million in loan participation notes that he was gung-ho on the future of the potash business of his Eurochem group. For Eurochem — 92% owned by board chairman Melnichenko; 8% by chief executive Dmitry Strezhnev – potash was, still is, a brand-new line of business. But in a decade or so, Melnichenko told investors, he aimed to be number-1 for potash in Russia and in Europe; and for potash, nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers combined, close to number-1 in the world.

Apparently nothing stood in his way – not Uralkali, Russia’s current potash monopoly producer; nor Suleiman Kerimov (left, left), the control shareholder of Uralkali. Not Belaruskali, the state-owned potash monopoly of Belarus, nor Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Those four names don’t appear in the risk or strategy sections of Melnichenko’s investment prospectus, a copy of which has just fallen from a Eurochem truck. How he proposed to defeat such rivals the Eurochem prospectus didn’t even acknowledge as a problem. Can Melnichenko have been so unthinking as to expect his rivals to surrender their market positions and profits without a fight? Did Melnichenko take his bond buyers for dolts and boobies?
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THE POTASH COLLAPSE – KREMLIN DECLARES TAKEOVER WAR ON ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO AND ANDREI MELNICHENKO

potash_hammer

By John Helmer, Moscow

Uralkali, Russia’s potash monopoly, has been spending heavily for months – more than $1.3 billion — not so much to buy back its free-floating shares, as to let its control shareholders escape. The cash has come from new bondholders and from state banks, Sberbank and VTB. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs have played along helpfully, too.

Since Tuesday, July 30, we know why. That’s the day Uralkali announced to the rest of its shareholders that it was leaving the Belarusian Potash Company (BPC), the long-time export joint venture with Belaruskali, the Belarusian producer, and abandoning production and marketing control in order to support the potash price above $400 per tonne. In short, bye bye BPC — hello potash at $200 per tonne.
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ANDREI MELNICHENKO GOES TO THE PRECIPICE, RISKING EUROCHEM FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA, AND HIMSELF

melnichenko_putin

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s been three years almost to the day since Vladimir Putin (left), then Russian Prime Minister, visited the Gremyachinskoye potash mine in southwestern Volgograd region.

The mine, the newest in construction in Russia, with one of the country’s largest potash reserves, and one of the most costly ever to be built, is owned by Eurochem. This nitrogen, phosphorus and potash fertilizer company is already, the company’s website proclaims, number-1 in Russia, number-3 in Europe, and number-10 in the world. According to its owner, Eurochem aims to be number-5 in the world once Gremyachinskoye starts operating. Eurochem is 92.2% owned by Andrei Melnichenko (right), who is also chairman of the company board. But Melnichenko was nowhere to be seen when Putin visited his property. Instead, Putin was hosted by Eurochem’s chief executive Dmitry Strezhnev. He is Melnichenko’s placeman. Strezhnev owns 7.8% of the Eurochem shares through an offshore equity and trade proceeds scheme which Melnichenko controls in Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands, and Switzerland.
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DMITRY RYBOLOVLEV FINDS THE CASH TO BUY THE MOST EXPENSIVE APARTMENT IN NEW YORK

By John Helmer, Moscow

In the interior designer trade, there is a standard known inside Russia and the world over as the vomit test.

The World of Interiors usually passes; Architectural Digest often fails. This isn’t what it sounds like – no disparagement intended of the design or designer as such. No Sirree. The test is simply whether the design portrayed is so crowded, with so many different and overlapping patterns, that if you vomited, noone would notice.
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US BANKS LEFT PHOSAGRO TO ITS FATE — THAT’S RESURRECTION AS A RUSSIAN NATIONAL CHAMPION

By John Helmer, Moscow

Two US banks named in May by Phosagro as mandated arrangers of its initial public offering (IPO) walked away from the share sale attempt after finding little interest among international investors to buy the shares from Phosagro’s owner, Andrei Guriev. The Americans also had problems with verifying how Guriev came into possession of the property he is selling — what one American bank source today calls “the shadow of Yukos”.
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PHOSAGRO SPILLS THE BEANS AS IPO PROSPECTUS LEAKS

By John Helmer, Moscow

If Phosagro, one of Russia’s leading phosphate miners and exporters, were a Mom and Pop store, the release this morning of the 441-page prospectus reveals that Mom Gurieva and Pop Guriev are selling a good part of the family jewels for cash. The only other seller of shares for the initial public offering (IPO) now under way in London is Maxim Volkov, 39, the chief executive since 2009; he is selling his entire 1% stake.
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IS THAT RUSSIAN RISK MONEY WAVING GOODBYE, OR GOING SHORT ON COMMODITIES?

By John Helmer, Moscow

In The Long Good-Bye, private detective Philip Marlowe says of the snob column in the newspapers, “I don’t read them often, only when I run out of things I dislike.” Some people feel that way about the weekly report from Emerging Portfolio Fund Research(EPFR). That is the Boston outfit which tracks the flow of investor funds into and out of emerging market destinations in the aggregate (GEM, EMEA), and in particular countries.

The bad news, out today in EPFR’s bulletin and Uralsib Bank’s weekly analysis, is that outflow of investor cash in Russian stocks and funds hit a record this week of $298 million. This was a big turnaround from the previous week’s positive inflow; though it makes just a small dent in the total flow inward to Russia since January 1 of $3.5 billion.
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POTASH CHAMPION IN THE SKY – WHO ARE THE WISEGUYS KIDDING?

By John Helmer, Moscow

This is the season for believing.

But less than a fortnight ago, one of the three wise men in the picture – left to right, Filaret Galchev, Alexander Nesis, Suleiman Kerimov – was saying aloud (privately) that the problems of satisfying stakeholders in the proposed Russian potash consolidation were so complicated, he couldn’t hazard a guess on how they would be resolved, except slowly – very slowly. This evening, even with his feet up and noone else listening in, he says he still doesn’t know how the announcement of the merger between Uralkali and Silvinit was finalized yesterday, or even whether it has been finalized.
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THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS – HARRY POTTER IS THE ONLY FOREIGNER ALLOWED TO LOOK INSIDE (BUT THAT’S KIDSTUFF)

By John Helmer, Moscow

Deep inside the Russian government there is a chamber of secrets where officials have gathered just eight times since April 29, 2008, the day when then-President Vladimir Putin signed the law that created the chamber. The law was entitled “On Procedures for Foreign Investments in Business Entities of Strategic Importance for National Defence and State Security”; for short, Law № 57-FZ. The chamber is called the Government Commission for Control of Foreign Investment in the Russian Federation, the Control Commission for short (aka the Government Commission).
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RUSSIANS ENTER THE BIDDING FOR POTASH CORPORATION – TARGET IS THE BIG AUSTRALIAN, BUT CAN THE BEAR’S TUNE BE SWEETER TO CANADIAN EARS?

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Kremlin is thinking of bidding against Australia’s BHP Billiton (BHP) for control of Canada’s leading potash producer, Potash Corporation. But those promoting the bid in Moscow won’t say why they believe the Canadian government should agree to a takeover which the Russians admit they would ask Russia’s Control Commission for Foreign Investment to refuse, if the positions were reversed.
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CONSOLATION PRIZE FOR OUSTED OLIGARCH — RYBOLOVLEV GETS HIS AIRFORCE BACK FOR $130 MILLION

By John Helmer in Moscow

Even in ignominy or retirement, a big boy’s toys are worth playing with.

Uralkali is Russia’s dominant producer of potash fertilizer and will soon merge with Silvinit to become the national potash champion, according to a government scheme first reported here on June 15. At the time, the head of investor relations for Uralkali, Anna Batarina, called this report disreputable nonsense.
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CRUMBS FROM THE OLIGARCHS’ TABLE – URALKALI SOLD AT CONCEALED PRICE, ON HIDDEN TERMS, WITH SECRET SCHEME TO CREATE A RUSSIAN POTASH MONOPOLY

By John Helmer in Moscow

Russian public companies are special, and public shareholders are the last to know. But when Suleiman Kerimov is engaged in a deal, you can be certain of knowing one thing — nothing is what it seems. The brokerages egging the market on today to buy Uralkali shares at a premium, on the ground that Kerimov has just done so, are misled. The controlling shareholder of Uralkali has just been obliged to sell at a discount.
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URALCHEM IPO FAILS ON IMPACT OF LONDON MARKET REGULATOR — NEW PRECEDENT FOR RUSSIAN CORPORATE DISCLOSURE – IS THAT MORGAN STANLEY AND UBS GETTING NAILED?

By John Helmer in Moscow

The first major Russian corporation to attempt to issue shares on the London Stock Exchange since the 2008 crisis has now failed, after the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) opened an investigation into Dmitry Mazepin’s fertilizer holding Uralchem.

Undisclosed shareholders; a mysterious $200 million share transaction involving insiders; and inadequate financial disclosure by the company and its auditor, are among the problems newly revealed to the FSA in a 59-page complaint lodged by the Brown Rudnick law firm on April 26.
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THE MAZEPIN CHOICE – IS THIS A ONE-MAN BAND PLAYING OUT OF TUNE, OR A PRETTY GIRL REVEALING ALL (ALMOST)?

By John Helmer in Moscow

If you can peer through the volcanic dust, you can tell it’s spring again for the world’s farmers and global feed and food grain production. So naturally the Russian fertilizer companies, which have been one-man bands until now, are thinking of coming back to the stock markets. The first to try out is Uralchem, owned by Dmitry Mazepin, which issued its prospectus for a London Stock Exchange share sale on April 19.

A 40% bloc of shares is for sale to raise between $496 million and $642 million, according to Uralchem’s target. But as one-man bands go, mark analysts who have read the offer document, it’s out of tune with the market realities.
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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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