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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OLEG DERIPASKA PUFFS RUSAL SHARE VALUE FOR DEBT NEGOTIATION WITH SBERBANK, VTB – GERMAN GREF UNIMPRESSED, SHARE PRICE COLLAPSES

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Insiders at the Russian aluminium monopoly Rusal say that chief executive and control shareholder Oleg Deripaska has been miscalculating the effect of share price surges Rusal has enjoyed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in recent weeks. That’s because the share price gains have been quickly reversed – and because Rusal’s most important lender, state owned Sberbank, is unpersuaded that the value of the company is gaining.

Sources on the Hong Kong exchange acknowledge a case officer has been assigned to monitor share trading of Rusal, and that he has been aware of abnormal trade volumes on several days in February and March, along with seesawing in the price of the share. But the Exchange chief executive, Charles Li, is reluctant to confirm what the exchange has done to uncover what happened and enforce exchange trading rules. The exchange is also afraid of being accused of covering up irregular trading practice and inside information. According to Li’s spokesman, Scott Sapp, “HKEx does not comment on individual companies or its regulatory actions.” Sapp then asked not to be named.
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GLOBAL WAR AGAINST RUSSIA TAKES NEW TURN — CHINA ATTACKS AUSTRALIAN COAL, FAVOURS RUSSIAN COAL

Design 1559B

By John Helmer, Moscow

Last Thursday the government in Beijing struck a new blow against the domination of global commodity markets by countries allied with the US in the sanctions war against Russia.

The measure announced is a 3% to 6% tariff to be imposed on coal imports to China, commencing on October 15. Australia, the largest supplier of coal to China, will take the largest hit in its trade. Indonesia, the second largest coal supplier to China, will be exempt as a member of the free trade zone between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Russia and South Africa, the next largest coal exporters to China, are allied with China in the BRICS geopolitical group: they are to benefit, too. Russian officials and industry sources confirm that negotiations on tariff relief are underway in Moscow this week as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met his counterpart, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
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HOW TO COUNT ONE TONNE OF ALUMINIUM IN FOUR – GLENCORE AND RUSAL KEEP THE HONG KONG STOCK MARKET GUESSING WHERE THE ALUMINIUM HAS GONE

hk_glencore_rusal

By John Helmer, Moscow

Reports from the Moscow headquarters of United Company Rusal, indicated last week that in an arrangement with Glencore Xstrata, large volumes of unsold metal are being stocked off the market in Estonia and other locations, and are not counted in the worldwide stockpile count of the London Metal Exchange (LME). The reports began here; the impact of last week’s US investigations was reported here.

In trading of Rusal shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange over the month of July, the share price has slipped almost 16%, and is now below HK$2.70 for the first time ever. The company’s market capitalization is now $5.2 billion – that is half the total of the loans and borrowings Rusal reports as owing on March 31.
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INVIDIOUS CHOICE – THE INDIAN, THE CHINAMAN, OR THE WHITE MAN (IGOR ZYUZIN)

By John Helmer, Moscow

Igor Zyuzin’s desperately indebted steel and coal-mining group Mechel is negotiating the sale of a 25% shareholding stake in Mechel Mining, his coal division, for $1.25 billion. That’s a fraction – maybe half — of what it was worth two years ago.

Would such a loss of capital value, and the still uncounted costs of Mechel’s unfinished, non-operational ElgaUgol coalmine in the Sakha republic have materialized if, instead of Zyuzin (left), the Kremlin had decided in October 2007 to award the project concession to the high bidder at the time, Lakshmi Mittal (centre)? Does anyone in the Kremlin believe today that the discount for ElgaUgol which Baosteel, China’s leading steelmaker, is about to extract from Zyuzin has been worth the six-year wait? Will President Vladimir Putin, who has been in charge of the milestones of wealth accumulation and loss marking Zyuzin’s career so far, instruct the government’s Control Commission to vote in favour of this strategic resource acquisition by the Chinese? And if the Chinese are acceptable as coalmining partners now, why weren’t the Indians in 2007?
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CONTAINING CHINA – HOW THE PENTAGON THINKS OF RUSSIA IN THE BIG GAME

By John Helmer, Moscow

At your peril, the one thing you must never say to a ranking Israeli intelligence officer, even one in mufti or retirement, is that he is suffering from a superiority complex. For the clinical symptoms of the affliction include conceptual deafness, ideological blindness. These stem from the frontal-lobe idea that the victim earned victory over his adversaries by his own wits; that those wits are unbeatable; and that accordingly he can never be bested or made to look stupid or act the fool.

In strategy, this leads to the first law of Barnum (of American circus fame) – there is a sucker born every minute. The second Barnum law is that the first starts with yourself.
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THE BIG BOART BANG – RUSSIA TO SUPPLY DIAMONDS FOR CHINESE TEETH, SAVE GLOBAL DIAMOND MARKET

By John Helmer, Moscow

After more than forty years, the last great Soviet state secret is out. And in its wake, a sensitive Chinese state secret, too.

Russian geologists reported over the weekend that the Popigai crater on the border between the Krasnoyarsk and Sakha regions of north eastern Siberia, formed by the 100-kilometre wide impact of a meteorite about 35 million years ago, could contain trillions of carats of small diamonds. The secret has been locked up in the Soviet archives since the discovery of the crater at least forty years ago.
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MANGANESE MINER FIGHT TRIGGERS SHARE PRICE FALL — THE TONG THAT TWISTS TOTH’S TONGUE

By John Helmer, Moscow

The fight by China Inc. to keep control over the flow and price of manganese into Chinese refineries, and out of the hands of pesky international shareholders, has moved into Round-3 after Rounds 1 and 2 turned into bruising knockdowns.

OM Holdings (OMH) — a Singapore-based manganese miner and metals refiner with mainland Chinese control shareholders — faces a new challenge from minority Australian and Singaporean shareholders, who formally announced today their call for an emergency general meeting (EGM) and the election of a new board of directors. A shareholder meeting and vote should be called by August 15 in Singapore.
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HOW GRAVY TRAINS BEAR DOWN ON SHARE PRICES — UNCERTAINTY HITS BC IRON

By John Helmer, Moscow

When the gravy train to China starts running, it can be educational for investors in the greater Sino-Russian iron-ore market to slow down, and patiently study how Australians, rivals of the Russians and other iron-ore suppliers, behave when the brakes are off – and the regulators appear to be going in another direction.

Australia’s newest iron-ore miner to start shipping to China, BC Iron (ticker BCI:AU),ought to be seeing the benefit of larger announced reserves, more rail and port capacity to ship cargoes, and a freshly minted report from KPMG confirming that a fair valuation of the company’s prospects is a share price between A$3.80 to $4.13. That should be good news too for Ukrainian metals mogul, Gennady Bogolyubov, who is the largest single stakeholder in BCI, with 21%.
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DERIPASKA’S MAGIC RUG GETS PULLED BY THE KREMLIN AND RUSHYDRO — $5 BILLION CHINA LOAN RIDES ON WHO OWNS TITLE TO RUSSIAN HYDRO DAMS

By John Helmer, Moscow

A decade ago, when Oleg Deripaska trusted Gulzhan Moldazhova, his principal money-changer, to negotiate with China, the authorities in Beijing were reluctant to agree to permitting what was then called Russian Aluminium (Rusal) to open a representative office in Beijing. Until then Rusal had exported aluminium to China through international traders and warehousers in Hong Kong. The Chinese method for saying no to Rusal at the time was to say nothing – and delay.
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CHINA LOVE STORY – OLEG DERIPASKA GIVEN BEIJING’S COLD SHOULDER, BUT MAYBE IN TIME IT WILL TURN LUKEWARM

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s nearly time for the peonies to bloom in China. But not for Oleg Deripaska’s plantings, at least not this season.

According to sources at Deripaska’s electricity company, Eurosibenergo, the Chinese government has so far refused to approve the investment of state-controlled funds by China Yangtze Power Company (CYPC) in Eurosibenergo, and thereby guarantee its initial public share offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Accordingly, the Eurosibenergo is off for the second time in four months.
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CHINA INC. TIRES OF ARM-TWISTING – TRIES A NEW TRICK THAT CHALLENGES THE RULES OF THE MANGANESE GAME

By John Helmer, Moscow

One man’s poison is another man’s meat – so long as he chews carefully and doesn’t swallow.

What’s been bad for Japan’s steel industry has accordingly been not so bad — you might say good — for the China market, and those who supply it with what it must have — iron-ore, coking coal, ferrous scrap, nickel, and manganese. These are the primary ingredients of steelmaking. Russian exports them, so does Australia.
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CHINESE GIVE DERIPASKA ANOTHER HAIRCUT

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska’s electricity company, Eurosibenergo, is facing the loss of between 7% and 33% of its potential value in the Hong Kong market, as the banks running the attempt at a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange can find few sharebuyers who value the company above the range of $4 billion to $5.6 billion. The banks are Bank of China International, Russia’s state-controlled VTB, and Deutsche Bank.
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CHINESE MANDARINS DON OLD HAT TO PLAY EMPIRE GAME

By John Helmer in Moscow

China has joined an English peer, a Bush Administration retiree, and a special Kremlin envoy in the attempt to persuade or pressure the Guinean Government into halting its court proceedings and fraud and tax audits of international mining companies, and restore concession rights, corruptly acquired, to Guinea’s resource treasure. At stake for China is access for Chinalco, the state-owned metals and mining company, to the Simandou iron-ore concession — one of the largest unmined reserves of iron-ore in the world.
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CHINA FANTASIES, COMMERCIAL REALITIES – WHOSE ARMS ARE AROUND SUZIE WONG NOW, OR IS IT THE OTHER WAY ROUND?

By John Helmer in Moscow

One of the reasons for pornography is that it provides a low-cost alternative to the real thing. Not to mention the chance to fantasize immediately about a future pleasure that isn’t likely to materialize — or to be affordable if it does.

The announcement on Tuesday of Russia’s agreement in principle to supply up to 70 billion cubic metres per annum of natural gas by pipeline to China is like that. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin needs to show that his command of Russia’s energy concessions is capable of delivering cash into the counting-house. A UK High Court trial, also under way this month in London. of claims relating to the management of the state-owned oil shipping company Sovcomflot has exposed the lengths to which Sechin, other government officials, and commercial allies in oil trading, ports and tankers, have already gone for this cash. A damage assessment in Moscow of the disclosures in the London court has the potential to cause problems for Sechin, if on top of everything, the counting-house goes short.
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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

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RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

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THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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KILLING IS CHEAPER — THE US ARMY SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WEAPONIZES TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, WHATSAPP, TELEGRAM

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.

The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory.  The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.

“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”

“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”

The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image).   McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.

Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.

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MARIA YUDINA OUT OF THE DARK – THE RUSSIAN CLASSICAL PIANIST PLAYS AGAIN

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.

In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.

(more…)
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