Nothing like this has been said before by a leader of the Hellenes, Greek or Cypriot.
“If we consider a solution through militarisation,” Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (lead image, right) announced last week. “This will be the end of Cypriot Hellenism, which I do not want.” What Anastasiades meant was that he does not want Cyprus to defend itself, its land, airspace, territorial waters, and sea lanes, by military means.
A Cypriot president who swears off military defence “of the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus” is violating his oath of office; he is betraying the Cyprus Constitution. A veteran of Cypriot presidential politics comments that Anastasiades is making the calculation that his best chance for winning a third term of office is submission to Turkey first, and submission to the US, the European Union, and Israel to limit Turkish military expansion in and around the island.
This is a strategy of buying time for himself, the source said, and riches for his associates. “He will be very happy to see Cyprus as a satrapy of Turkey provided he and his associates become the sultan’s satraps.”
by John Helmer with translation of report by Gevorg Mirzayan, Moscow @bears_with
If the war in Libya continues the way Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thinks it has gone in recent days, the Eastern Mediterranean will be a Turkish sea for the first time since Napoleon defeated the Ottomans and took Egypt and Syria between 1798 and 1801. But with Russia engaged against the Turks on the ground, in the air and at sea, not yet.
In escalation of the civil war in Libya in April and this month, Turkey has added ground forces from Syria, as well as Navy frigates, Air Force F-16s, and the capture of the Al-Watiya air base west of Tripoli. The Turkish side has now created a reinforced corridor for ship and airborne supplies of men and arms into Libya in support of the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj.
The Greek Air Force has watched the Turks go by with aerial antics and diplomatic protests amounting to a white flag. No Greek or Cypriot military source has issued an appreciation, let alone criticism of this historic rout of the Hellenes in their own territorial waters.
Russia has reinforced the capability of the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar to deter the Turks and in an operation with MiG-29s early this week attacked a Turkish frigate off the Libyan coast and a Turkish freighter in Tripoli port.
The US has taken the Turkish side, announcing through Army General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US Africa Command in Frankfurt: “Russia is clearly trying to tip the scales in its favor in Libya. Just like I saw them doing in Syria.”
Detailed Russian situation briefs from the General Staff’s military intelligence agency (GRU) have been appearing in Vzglyad, the internet analytical publication in Moscow. In the translation to follow, a strategic assessment by Gevorg Mirzayan indicates what is now at stake in Libya.
It is now a fortnight since President Vladimir Putin (lead image, left) announced a tax on Russians exporting their cash and capital to tax avoidance havens abroad; and since Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin followed to explain that Cyprus is the target. “We have started implementing the instructions on taxing dividends from foreign accounts with Cyprus”, Mishustin said at a Kremlin meeting with Putin on April 1. “The Cypriot government has been notified of the changes in the agreement on avoiding dual taxation.”
“For Putin to make his remark in a national
address,” comments a Moscow finance source, “and then for Mishustin to confirm that
Cyprus was intended in the President’s speech shows this is now a high priority
move. It reveals how upset the Kremlin –
especially Andrei Belousov [first deputy prime minister] — has been with the role
Cyprus plays in the outflow of Russian capital. I do not see any government
allowing capital flight now during a deep and lasting recession.”
“This sounds a death
knell for Cyprus accountants and law firms,” says a Limassol investor. “This is
their biggest business. From now on only the most hardened criminals or escapees
from Russia will be here.”
There has been a flurry of press leaks from Cyprus Government officials claiming that the Russian move is not targeting Cyprus. But no official at the Foreign and Finance Ministries in Moscow, nor at the Russian Embassy in Nicosia, has said this on the record. According to Mishustin and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, the new rules are still being decided, and will be announced on April 24.
By the way, the kibosh was an iron bar used two hundred years ago by cobblers in the north of England to flatten leather as they were making clogs. When the word reached the streets of London, it meant flatten in more ways than that one. The government of President Nicos Anastasiades (lead image, right) and Nicos Christodoulides, his foreign minister and aspiring successor, having chosen last year to cut their ties to Russia in exchange for American promises to protect the island from the Turks, is the clog in this story.
including artillery fire, infantry movements, launch of drones, rockets and
refugees, even losses of territory and
men, is planned by three Turks – President Tayyip Recep Erdogan (lead images); Defence Minister and former head of the
Turkish General Staff, Hulusi Akar; and Hakan Fidan, head of the National
Intelligence Organization (in Turkish, MIT). Call them the Sultan and the Ugly
An SUV is never
as serious as it would like to appear. This Turkish SUV also planned the July 2016
coup in Istanbul and Ankara. Nothing they do, including the sacrifice of large
numbers of their own people, will result in a military coup to remove them, no
matter how costly their mistakes. Those Turks who can calculate their mistakes
are in jail or dead.
The SUV has
decided to fight for Syria outside the lines of the Sochi agreement. With
artillery firing from the Turkish side of the Syrian border, they decided to
fight a new battle for Saraqib, east of Idlib, and succeeded. In the battle
they lost up to 60 regulars; the Syrian Army lost more than a thousand. The
Syrians have gained in the south of Idlib; they have lost Saraqib. They must retake it and hold it; they will;
they have done so.
have now established a cordon around the city. They have restored air cover for
the Syrian Army, and just as importantly, extended their electronic counter
measure (ECM) defences to the frontier and further. The drones on which the SUV
depended for targeting their long-range guns and for attacking Syrian Army units
have been neutralized. The Russian resupplies now arriving by sea and air are
more than a match for the small force the SUV has committed so far.
Defeat makes the SUV keener than ever to hide their weakness. Akar has retreated from his field headquarters in the south to Ankara, as the SUV prepares to meet Putin and the Stavka on Thursday in Moscow. A Russian military analyst reports the General Staff assessment awaiting him: “General Akar should keep himself in check, because it is one thing to inflate the enemy’s losses somewhat and pass off old videos as fresh ones. It’s quite another to write fiction novels in the context of information war.”
The SUV responds to force of arms more than to the force of money. They calculate President Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin advisors are the opposite. The SUV will continue to operate NATO AWACS aircraft for attempting the same ambush tactics they used against the Russian Air Force in November 2015. The SUV will try to threaten with US weapons the Pentagon will not hazard in a losing fight. The Turks will push against the cowardice they have come to expect from the Greek Government in Athens and President Nikos Anastasiades in Nicosia. This has been a winning strategy for the SUV until they overreached with force instead of bluff. When the SUV goes through the Spassky Gate on Thursday, for the first time in the four hundred years since the Ottoman siege of Vienna, a single army, Russia’s, is defending all of Europe.
Among Russian oligarchs, Alexei Mordashov (lead image, centre) holds two records. One is for empty promises: he has never told the whole truth in public or when he has visited President Vladimir Putin (right) for private conversations about his business plans and the Russian state interest. Mordashov’s other record is for losing more money invested in the US than any other Russian; that was at least $3 billion in steelmills which Mordashov bought to turn himself into a global steelmaker in case his Severstal steel group was taken over at home.
It is therefore almost certain that when Mordashov flew to Cyprus last week to tell the Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades (lead image, left) he intends to double the number of Russian tourists to Cyprus, it’s another empty promise. This is also the assessment of Russian and Cypriot tourism analysts.
Russia has been warning Cyprus (lead image, left) for months to beware the risks and consequences of offering its offshore oil and gas to US companies in exchange for promises of a US military protectorate against Turkish invasion. So far the American response (lead image, centre – Secretary of State Michael Pompeo) has been to require Cyprus to block Russian Navy access to its ports; expel Russian capital from its banks; and put a stop to what Washington calls pro-Russian journalism in the Greek-language press. For details of this scheme, read this.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced the Washington plan as an “artificial choice” and also a “gross violation” of Cyprus’s internal affairs. But so far the Russians have joined the Americans in accepting that what the Turks believe to be theirs is theirs, and that what the Cypriots (and Greeks) regard as theirs is negotiable.
For the first time, however, Cypriot and Greek military officers and experts have joined to plan Cypriot military tactics against Turkey’s attempt at taking over the Cyprus offshore seabed and at fresh Turkish troop landings on the island. Not since the Cypriots fought a successful guerrilla war against the British for independence in the 1950s, and then in 1974 fought the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the island has a Cypriot military approach appeared. Self-defence by the Cypriots – without alignment with Americans or Russians, and without backing from Athens — is unprecedented. (more…)
Cover yourself. When it’s raining, you can’t borrow somebody else’s umbrella for shelter.
In September 1938, the umbrella of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain became the symbol of his foolishness in accepting Adolph Hitler’s terms for the takeover of the Sudetenland, then Czechoslovakia, as “peace for our time” (lead image, left), then telling the British to “go home and get a nice quiet sleep”.
The US umbrella which Nikos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, and Kyriacos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, have applied to borrow, to protect themselves from the terms dictated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan(lead image, right) isn’t yet as infamous. It’s already just as futile. For Cypriot and Greek officials to pretend to such folly is a treason before their own people. (more…)
Under cover of its Russian S-400 air defence batteries, and ignoring US and European sanctions, Turkey is going on the offensive at sea, surrounding Cyprus, and by land, launching a weapon against the European Union against which there is no defence: a Turkish cannon firing 150,000 people at Europe’s borders each month. They are the refugees from the wars the US and NATO launched in Iraq, Syria and Libya. (more…)
This week a group of US senators has proposed to leave Turkey in control of the northern part of Cyprus, and force the Greek Cypriots to choose between the US and Russia for the economic and political future of the south of the island.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed by a large bipartisan majority on June 25 to put into law a new Eastern Mediterranean strategy. If the bill is enacted, Cyprus will be required to decide that in exchange for American protection from Turkish military threats, including Russian-made S-400 missiles to be based in southwestern Turkey, the Cyprus Government must not allow Russian naval vessels to dock at Cypriot ports, and should block all Russian money and investments on the island. At the same time, Greece has been told the US military intends to expand its occupation of Crete around the Souda Bay base; at Larissa Air Force Base, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki; and at other Greek locations.
The proposed new law is the most comprehensive plan for American military occupation of Cyprus and Greece since the Greek civil war of the 1950s. The US plan also establishes State Department censorship of the Greek-language media in Cyprus and Greece, and threatens US sanctions against the Orthodox Church bishops of the two countries. (more…)
Leonid Lebedev (lead image, centre), a Russian oil and electricity trader and patron of Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades (right), is set to lose his multi-billion-dollar claim for a stake in the sale of TNK-BP to Rosneft, according to papers released by the New York State Supreme Court. The Rosneft deal, priced in March 2013 at $55 billion, created Russia’s dominant oil producer, and one of the world’s most valuable petroleum companies by revenue and market capitalization. Its current market value is Rb4.4 trillion ($66 billion).
Lebedev has been claiming in the New York court since 2014 that he is owed $2 billion for a 15% share he once held in the Russian oil company, Tyumenneftegas (Tyumen Oil Company); TNK was the Russian acronym until British Petroleum bought into the company and it became TNK-BP between 2003 and 2013.
Lebedev has sued Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, alleging that their agreement for the sale of his shareholding for $600 million between 2001 and 2003 had not been completed or paid up. Vekselberg, who is Russian, and Blavatnik, Anglo-American, say they paid Lebedev his money, and that he has been lying and fabricating evidence ever since.
In a hearing held by Judge Salliann Scarpulla on November 14, but kept sealed until a month ago, the judge strongly hinted that she will not allow the case go to trial. She has already dismissed Lebedev’s claims of fraud and deceit by Vekselberg and Blavatnik. That left Lebedev’s claim for breach of the sale contract.
Scarpulla told lawyers arguing Lebedev’s case that she didn’t believe he had not agreed to the $600 million sale through the Cyprus-based company he had created to act his agent, Coral Petroleum. After concealing Coral Petroleum’s bank transaction records and accounting records for years, they were discovered last year at BNP-Paribas.
The discovery was “explosive”, the lawyers declared in court. “We literally have hundreds, a box full of directions signed by Mr. Lebedev to spend money on Coral’s behalf. This was all before the defendant’s [$600 million] money even came into Coral.”
“You can imagine how this sounds,” the judge declaredin court. “I have an agent, I tell my agent to sign the Agreement, the Agreement contains very broad language, and because later on I find out that the Agreement is not helpful or useful to me, all of a sudden, one, my agent didn’t have authority, which I don’t know how you [Lebedev’s lawyers] can really argue that because if the agent [Coral Petroleum] signs the Agreement, the law in New York is you’re bound. You haven’t shown me anything that would let the defendants [Vekselberg and Blavatnik] know that the agent [Coral Petroleum] didn’t have apparent authority to sign the Agreement. Two, the Agreement [between Lebedev’s Coral Petroleum and agents for Vekselberg and Blavatnik] says what it says and you admit that either your client [Lebedev] or your client’s representatives negotiated it. It was everything in that Agreement then. Your client had the ability to change or at least to discuss or do whatever. So, again, I’m at the position where you’re asking me to sort of find an ambiguity in something that seems not that ambiguous.” (more…)
Please recognize, if not in yourselves then in others, that there is pleasure in hating.
“The pleasure of hating”, William Hazlitt, an English writer of two hundred years ago*, compared this to what the British Prime Minister of today calls a novichok – “a poisonous mineral, [which] eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.”
If not stopped in politics, this pleasure of hating leads with certainty to violence and war. The pleasure of hating Russia and Russians is what today is driving the United States to putting all of Europe in war. (more…)
“In war”, Thucydides lectured the Hellenes 2,400 years ago, “opportunity waits for no man.”
Last Thursday evening, when President Donald Trump was prepping for negotiations with President Vladimir Putin, the Hellenes gave the two of them an object lesson in how the weak may defeat an attack of apparently overwhelming force. Their opportunity was to say Οχι – that’s Greek for no.
That took Recep Tayyip Erdogan (lead image, right), the omnipotent ruler of Turkey, the US and British governments, and Espen Barth Eide (left), the United Nations (UN) negotiator representing their alliance, by surprise. The deceit of his schemes exposed, Eide’s name is dishonoured, his career is kaput. (more…)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (lead images, left) has come under intense political and personal pressure to agree to terms of settlement for the future of Cyprus, swapping Turkish military occupation for European Union rights for all Turkish immigrants to the island — the former to be implemented over years; the latter to become effective immediately.
The sensitivity of that deal, Cypriot, Greek and US sources said this week, is such a political bombshell for Anastasiades seeking re-election in a year’s time that he wouldn’t be risking detonation, if not for a personal vulnerability he is facing at the same time.
Two New York Supreme Court releases this month reveal that emails between Nicos Anastasiades’s family law firm and a wealthy Russian client, Leonid Lebedev (left lead, right side), were withheld when Anastasiades’s partner, Theofanis (Theophanis) Philippou, testified in a Cyprus court recently. Philippou has been one of Lebedev’s personal lawyers in Cyprus, and he has made official records of this. Anastasiades was also Lebedev’s adviser at the law firm and at the Imperium group of companies, which Philippou and Anastasiades operated to manage their clients’ corporate business, personal trusts, and cashflow. Their relationships with Lebedev predate Anastasiades becoming president of Cyprus in February 2013.
It is that record which Philippou was ordered by the New York and Cyprus courts to produce. It is their sensitivity for the president now that has led to a cover-up.
The State Department has switched off the lights for Victoria Nuland’s (lead image, right) planned meeting in Cyprus this week with President Nicos Anastasiades (left).
Cyprus sources confirm that Nuland is expected to arrive in Nicosia on Wednesday. The Greek press was told last Friday the visit is scheduled for this week, and that the State Department is giving “assurances that the American official is not going to make any suggestions or to lobby.”
State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said Monday “As of today, I have no travel to announce.” After official confirmation from Cyprus was relayed to her, Trudeau said: “as of today, we have no travel to announce. If that changes, we’ll certainly let you know.” Asked to explain the blackout, and to clarify if Nuland is currently in Washington, Trudeau refused to say.
The semi-secret Nuland trip comes after a weekend of hints from senior Cyprus officials that the US has been pressuring Anastasiades to accept Turkish military occupation of northern Cyprus under a NATO flag, and that Anastasiades’s past involvement with a fugitive Russian businessman, Leonid Lebedev, is one of the pressure-points in the meetings Nuland has held with the Cyprus president in April and July (more…)
A multi-million dollar case of corruption and money-laundering, involving the fugitive Russian businessman Leonid Lebedev and his lawyer, now the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades (lead image), moved to New York this week, as Anastasiades landed for a week of meetings at United Nations headquarters; followed by Lebedev’s jet a few hours later.
Disclosures in a Manhattan court last week confirmed for the first time Lebedev’s emails to and from Anastasiades and his law partner, Theofanis Philippou. Over Lebedev’s opposition to revealing what these records say, the New York court is now set to request the Attorney-General of Cyprus, Judge Costas Clerides, and the Justice Minister, Ionas Nicolaou, to subpoena documents, bank accounts, and other records, plus communications to and from the businesses Anastasiades and Philippou have been supervising in Cyprus on Lebedev’s behalf since 2012; possibly earlier when Lebedev became a Cyprus citizen secretly, with help from Anastasiades and Philippou. That was in March 2011; they then began moving large amounts of cash from Russia through Cyprus companies and trusts into three New York banks.
Attorney-General Clerides has been investigating Lebedev’s business in Cyprus for months. He had Philippou under investigation earlier for allegedly corrupt involvement in the sale of the state airline, Cyprus Airways. Anastasiades was a defence witness in a criminal court prosecution by Clerides of a former deputy attorney-general on corruption charges. The trial will conclude in Nicosia next week. “I have done my duty towards the justice system in my country,” Anastasiades said when he appeared to testify in June. Philippou has been charged with no wrongdoing. he refuses to answer press questions about the Lebedev case.
Russian prosecutors are also pursuing investigations of Lebedev’s electricity company business in two regional courts, Tver and Yaroslavl. Lebedev was granted protection from Russian prosecution by the US Government in 2014, after he resigned his Russian senate seat and left the country. He now lives in Los Angeles.
What Lebedev is offering to reveal to US Government officials he is refusing to disclose in the New York Supreme Court. There he has been suing for $2 billion in compensation for shares in the Russian oil company TNK which he claims he sold to Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, but was never paid for. Last December Judge Saliann Scarpulla dismissed Lebedev’s fraud allegations, leaving a single contract claim hanging on a single piece of evidence – did Lebedev control Coral Petroleum, the company which received Vekselbereg’s and Blavatnik’s payment for the oil company shares?
The President of Cyprus knows the answer. He must now try to keep Lebedev’s secret from the Cyprus Attorney-General. (more…)
At the end of this month the Irish High Court in Dublin will consider an application for the arrest of Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades’s (lead image, left) law partner, Theofanis Philippou, and for an order to disclose company documents produced by them both on behalf of their client, the fugitive Russian businessman and former senator, Leonid Lebedev. An order for attachment and committal, as it is called in Ireland, directed against powerful figures in a neighbouring European Union (EU) country, is almost unprecedented, Dublin court sources say.
If the Dublin court agrees, Cyprus officials say they expect an Irish arrest order will be passed to the Irish police, and from them to the Cyprus Ministry of Justice. From there it will go to Cyprus Attorney-General Costas Clerides (2nd image, right). “We are interested to see,” officials say. “We will be waiting for this request.” (more…)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is holding secret negotiations this week with Victoria Nuland (lead image, right), the US State Department official in charge of Turkey, Ukraine and Russia, on a plan to maintain Turkish military forces in Cyprus under the flag of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Anastasiades has sent his aide, Nicos Christodoulides (lead image, left), to negotiate in Washington; he met with Nuland on Monday.
After losing control of the Cyprus Parliament to an increasingly nationalist vote in an election on May 22, Anastasiades has remained behind at the presidential palace in Nicosia, where he met on Tuesday with the NATO official now conducting Cyprus negotiations for the United Nations, Espen Barth Eide. The Cyprus Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, is due to met US Secretary of State John Kerry, on June 13.
So sensitive is the US-Turkish plan for Cyprus that American reporters for Associated Press and Reuters at the State Department have refused to ask Nuland about the talks. Gayane Chichakyan, a Washington-based reporter for the Russian government television company Russia Today (RT), has also refused to lift the news blackout. (more…)
The US is intensifying the pressure on Cyprus to accept a secret NATO plan to keep Turkish forces on the island.
Victoria Nuland, the State Department official in charge of regime change in Russia and Ukraine, met for talks last week with the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and with Turkish Cypriot figures. The State Department and US Embassy in Nicosia have kept silent on what was said. A well-informed Cypriot source reports Nuland “was in Cyprus to pre-empt any likelihood of future deepening in relations with Russia. Anastasiades may not want to, but he may have no other option.” A second Cypriot political source said: “[Nuland] will try to blackmail him. I’m not sure how he will react.” (more…)
A US Government effort to advance Turkish interests on Cyprus, and block Russia’s relationship with the government in Nicosia, has become the newest campaign of Victoria Nuland (lead image, left), the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Ukraine and the campaign for regime change in Moscow. The target of the fresh campaign, according to media reporting in Cyprus, is President Nicos Anastasiades. After warning Anastasiades to stay away from Moscow a year ago, Nuland has been back to Nicosia twice – in September, and then again in December – with a combination of threats and rewards to get Anastasiades to submit.
The rewards include new US arms and financing for the Cypriot security forces, ending the 24-year American military embargo on the island. The threats are aimed at terms which Anastasiades and his foreign minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, have been negotiating with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for an expansion of Russian military supplies, port and airforce facilities in Cyprus; and for increased trade and investment to overcome European Union (EU) sanctions.
According to the Cyprus Mail, a long-time promoter of Anglo-American interests on the island, Anastasiades is being pressured, not by the US, but by the Kremlin. Russia “does not want him to sign a settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the newspaper reported last week. The Cyprus Mail was reacting to growing concern among high-ranking Cyprus officials and members of parliament at evidence of Cyprus corruption spilling out of a New York court case.
This is the case pursued by Leonid Lebedev, a Russian politician and businessman on the run from Russian fraud charges. Lebedev, a Cyprus citizen since 2011, now lives in homes in Limassol and Los Angeles. According to the reported speculation in Cyprus, the evidence in the Lebedev case is “a warning to Nik[os Anastasiades] that more revelations would follow, if he did not hold back on the Cyprus talks.” Whether Lebedev’s “revelations” are a Russian threat, or one of Nuland’s, Cyprus sources say they aren’t sure. (more…)
The law partner of the President of Cyprus is under investigation in Cyprus and in New York for allegedly concealing assets, cashflows, and money-laundering, and for lying to a Cyprus court and to the Cyprus Ministry of Interior, for the benefit of a former Russian politician now on the run. (more…)
Cyprus Government investigators have opened an inquiry into ex-Senator Leonid Lebedev (lead image) for transfers into a hidden Cyprus trust of $150 million in cash allegedly stolen from the regional Russian electricity company TGK-2 and a related company, TKS. Investigations by Russian prosecutors and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), reported to court hearings in Yaroslavl, have counted almost $240 million Lebedev has been accused of stealing through a chain of companies associated with his Sintez group, ending up in Cyprus. A Russian Government request for the Cypriot authorities to open Lebedev company registers and tax filings has been confirmed as triggering criminal checks on the island.
The Cyprus authorities are also checking how Lebedev managed to obtain a Cyprus passport in 2011; and the source of the funds he pledged to place in Cyprus to meet the €5 million requirement for buying citizenship. That was a year before Lebedev swore in the Limassol District Court that he was a Russian citizen, without assets in Cyprus, and “impossibil[ity] to travel to Cyprus”. His testimony was in response to a lawsuit by Commerzbank of Germany charging Lebedev with $240 million in loan fraud. At the time, Lebedev was a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), according to Cyprus and European Union regulations, and subject therefore to much tougher official checks.
Lebedev also hid his Cyprus nationality from the Federation Council, where he was the senator for the Chuvash Republic between 2002 and April of this year. For more on his dismissal, read this. (more…)
What to do if you are a Russian mining company with a billion dollars’ worth of asset exposure securing large debts, and your chain of production is struck at start and finish by corruption scandals, international litigation, popular protest, collapse of government authority, and homicidal violence? The solution is to pretend to your bankers you aren’t Russian — and privately beg the Kremlin for help.
That is what the Solway Group of companies has been doing at its nickel mine in central Guatemala, and at its ferronickel refinery in southeast Ukraine. Asked about Solway’s Russian roots by a Ukrainian reporter last month, Solway’s chief executive Daniel Bronstein replied that “Solway Investment Group is a Cyprus-based international industrial group with a 100% EU capital and operational offices in Luxemburg, Switzerland and Estonia.”
At almost the same time, a Russian source in Guatemala City said the Russian Ambassador, Nikolai Babich, had been to see the President of Guatemala, Otto Molina, to ask for his intervention on behalf of the mine’s Russian management and the Solway owners. (more…)
The Cyprus Government’s unit for combating money-laundering will consider an investigation of Igor Kolomoisky if it is requested by the Ukrainian or US Governments, Eva Papakyriacou revealed on Tuesday. Papakyriacou is the head of the unit, whose acronym, following the Greek, is MOKAS.
She declined to say if there has been a request for investigation, either by a foreign government, or by the Cyprus government agencies responsible for Kolomoisky’s Cyprus passport, or the source of funds of his Privatbank group in Cyprus. “All the information possessed by MOKAS is confidential,” Papakyriakou said. “However, it is noted that the source of funds is checked by the Banks and the Supervisory Authority for Banks is the Central Bank.” (more…)
The President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades agreed last week with President Vladimir Putin on what is reported in London and Washington to be a military basing agreement with Russia for Russia’s naval and air forces in the Mediterranean. In the aftermath, Putin did all the talking to the press, making it clear, if not explicit, that in current Russian strategy, Cyprus is far more important than Greece.
Returning home to Cyprus on the weekend, Anastasiades has disclosed no papers with his signature, assuring his party supporters – among them, the anti-Russian voter bloc on the island – that so far as military terms are concerned, he has signed nothing new. The Cyprus Mail, an anti-Russian newspaper, called Anastasiades’s trip to the Kremlin a “fizzle”. A source close to the Cyprus presidency comments that the idea of a Russian base agreement in Cyprus “is agitprop. It’s all a lot of bull.” (more…)
In the wake of the lethal Odessa fire on May 2, President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed by telephone on Sunday afternoon “to take effective measures, including through the OSCE in the first place, aimed at easing tensions in Ukraine. In this connection, Swiss Federal President and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter will arrive in Moscow on May 7.”
This amounts to an invitation for the Swiss to exercise their longstanding neutrality in European conflicts to keep the warring sides apart in eastern and southern Ukraine; prevent the violence; and create the conditions in which a durable settlement between the Ukrainian regions may be negotiated on a new constitutional basis. In short, an international police force. (more…)
Oleg Deripaska’s airplane touched down in Cyprus on February 28. He wasn’t on holiday; that came a fortnight later, when he, his plane and his boat had a reunion at Male, in the Maldives. Deripaska left Cyprus on March 2. It isn’t known what was in the luggage offloaded on arrival, or taken on board when the plane departed. Maybe cash, if during the time in Cyprus an informant warned that the newly elected government of Nicos Anastasiades was about to accept a European Union bailout requirement hitting all Cyprus bank accounts with a 9.9% tax on amounts above €100,000; 6.79% on accounts below that amount.
Timing is everything. Eighteen months ago, in September 2010, Alexander Abramov became a citizen of Cyprus. Abramov, who is the second shareholder of the Evraz steel and mining group after Roman Abramovich and his Millhouse holding, was granted naturalization after then-Cyprus Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis announced to the Cyprus cabinet that Abramov was being rewarded because he had “offered [note carefully that word] the highest level of service to the Republic of Cyprus, and considering his business activities, naturalisation is in the public interest.” (more…)
For the second time in its short history, United Company Rusal, the loss-making aluminium monopoly run by Oleg Deripaska, has been ordered out of an international court with the ruling that it has acted unlawfully to seize confidential data of its critics. On March 1, by order of the District Court of Nicosia, Cyprus, Rusal has been ordered to destroy all of the information it had illegally taken. By a second order, Rusal has been required to pay all of the costs of the proceeding to date.
The award of costs against Rusal this time is especially significant. Those who have been the targets of Rusal litigation in the past — they include Russian and Tajik smelter operators, international aluminium traders, and Deripaska’s patron, Michael Cherney (Chernoy) — charge that Deripaska pursues personal feuds employing the company’s lawyers and shareholder resources. By multiplying cases in several international jurisdictions simultaneously, former Rusal lawyers say, he is attempting to crush his targets with legal fees, while exposing the company, not himself, to the costs, losses, and damages. (more…)
The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.
It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.
Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.
Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points, want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.
“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification, his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”
The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island, was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.
It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.
Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”. The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.
But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.
Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits, LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”
Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”. “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added, diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February. Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace Morawiecki next year.
The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45; and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption, and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .
“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June, “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”
“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”
The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.
The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.
Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha by the Black Sea in Abkhazia. Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.
Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.
Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel. As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him. “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”
In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 BlueLine (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.
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.
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.