In November 2001—twenty years ago — I gave a lecture in Moscow entitled: “Stealing the Truth – How to Read, and Not to Read, the Press In Russia”. The text has been lost. I am grateful to Ajay Goyal, the organiser of the Hellevig Lectures, for inviting me to bring the message back to life.
In the interval, Jon Hellevig lived his productive life in Russia. He and I both wrote for The Russia Journal and he set many examples of disciplined investigation leading to fearless publication of the truth. I salute him and his memory for what he achieved as an example to those of us who knew him and who live on.
In Soviet days, Russian reporters, editors and readers had shared an understanding of how to write and how to read the real message, the truth, between the lines of the printed text. This was a subtlety western readers have taken time to learn. The invention of the tweet struck with blunt force trauma; its unsubtlety came later. Then the US and the NATO allies opened the Ukraine front of their war against Russia in February 2014; the economic warfare sanctions followed the Ukrainian plot to down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014; the war on the Syria front escalated from September 2015; and the two Novichok operations were launched — the British one involving Sergei Skripal in March 2018, and the German one involving Alexei Navalny in August 2020.
In wartime, with Russia and the truth about Russia under the gun, you will understand me when I say I shall not allow my remarks to give aid and comfort to the other side. What I have had to say about domestic and internal Russian politics and the features of the Russian oligarchy are in print for all to read. There will be more to say — though not here, not today.
For the first time, the US-based international media agency Reuters is being sued for lying about Russia in the British High Court. The three defendants in the dock are Catherine Belton (lead image, right); her source, runaway bank robber Sergei Pugachev; and Rupert Murdoch’s publishing house, HarperCollins.
Roman Abramovich (left) has launched the case almost a year after Belton, Pugachev and Murdoch published a book entitled “Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West”. According to Abramovich, he has initiated the lawsuit in defence of his personal reputation and that of the Chelsea Football Club he owns. “It is my hope that today’s action will not only refute the false allegations in regard to my own name, but also serve as a reminder of Chelsea’s positive footprint in the UK.”
When the organ claiming to be the world’s leading financial newspaper conceals the large price subsidy for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by the NATO allies, in order to accuse Russia of price gouging the poor, you can be sure you are watching an information warfare attack.
And when the concealment of the vaccine subsidy operation run by GAVI and COVAX hides the fact that the UK, US, and the Bill Gates (lead image, right) and Melinda Gates Foundation are paying 92% of the $10 billion scheme, then you realise that Covid-19 vaccines are a weapon of war.
A war, not only against Russia, but also against China.
Last week in a Moscow court, Michael Bloomberg’s (lead image, right) organisation of New York City did something it has never done before. It admitted it has been publishing lies about Russia. It also paid a penalty of Rb12,600 ($170.25).
Bloomberg even promised that in future its reporting on Russia will “be guided in its work by recognised editorial standards of truthfulness, accuracy and objectivity of published information in accordance with its internal code of journalistic standards and ethics [and] best practices in the news industry.”
What Bloomberg was promising not to do was to print fabrications about Russia fed in secret to its reporters by agents of the US Government.
The Moscow bureau of Bloomberg said it had nothing to do with the court proceeding and refused to comment. The spokesman for Bloomberg’s European division in London also refused to answer questions.
Grief for his loss has prevented me from writing about Krissy (Kris, Kriska, Krisichka, Kiryusha from КРЫСА meaning “rat”). He is the cat to whom I belonged who died at our home in Moscow nine years ago, on December 9, 2011.
The efforts of a Russian oligarch to kill me, and then, having failed at that, to expel me from Russia; and the equal exertion of Australian foreign ministry and aluminium business officials to cover up the crime, prevented me from being with Krissy when his heart stopped beating. For several hours in advance, perhaps for a day, he knew death was coming; he was seventeen cat-years old – 84 in human years. He also knew that my kind of practical optimism to save his life would be fruitless this time. He had survived so much already. He, his mistress and I had often considered the risks of exposing oneself to bad Russians and bad Australians. One of his lives had been saved, he knew, by a South African, a very good one.
John Gray, a British philosophical writer who loves cats, tries to explain these things from their point of view in a new book, which until Gray came on to a section about Spinoza was encouraging, Between Spinoza’s birthday in Amsterdam on November 24 – he would have been 388 last week – and Krissy’s dying day, there are a few things which deserve to be remembered. Russian things.
There’s an invariable rule of politics the world over.
“It was worthwhile making sure of your potential friends,” the English novelist C.P. Snow put into the mouth of a rising cabinet minister in London a half-century ago. “As a rule you couldn’t win over your enemies, but you could lose your friends.”
In his career, President Vladimir Putin has accepted and followed only half that rule: he always keeps his friends — the Russian ones. Unfortunately, neither Putin nor his friends have understood the other half. That can be judged an improvement, nationally and historically speaking.
Lenin and Stalin understood they couldn’t win over their enemies; they also shared an ideology explaining why such conflict was unceasing, permanent. Since Lenin and Stalin had few friends and ended up treating them like enemies, the second half of the rule didn’t apply. Mikhail Gorbachev got both parts of the rule wrong. For different reasons so did Boris Yeltsin. Their mistakes have cost Russia and the Russians mightily, especially those who thought the ideology of permanent conflict wasn’t true.
The same mistake might have happened to Putin if not for Russian soldiers whose ideology and whose job it is to do nothing but fight enemies. So, nationally speaking, Russians are today as good or better at fighting enemies as ever they have been. Between the Russian military and Russia’s enemies, Putin and his friends have been taught there is no winning by negotiation or persuasion, only by force. It’s less certain Putin’s friends are convinced this is so, especially towards the US and the UK, where the friends have sent their money and their children.
But those Russians have failed to win over the Americans and British. They have nothing to show for the process except for the inflated bills they have paid; a handful of foreign friends they have betrayed; and the limitless contempt of their enemies for having made the effort in the first place. Since the civil war started in the Ukraine in 2014 and sanctions followed, their bank accounts are today unprotected from freeze and unexplained wealth orders.
This is by way of reflection on two attempts this past week of Russian state spokesmen to defend Russia against its enemies by persuasion, not by force. The two are Maria Zakharova, spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and Kirill Dmitriev, chairman of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the state sovereign wealth fund. They failed with the enemies; this is to be expected and unremarkable. But what friends they thought they were addressing and how they lost them – that’s the breaking news.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) isn’t likely to have heard the old Australian working-class expression that a man is too crooked to lie straight in bed. It meant that lying and cheating are in the nature of a deformity, and can’t be operated on or cured. “The Salisbury Poisonings”, the three-part, three-hour film which concluded its run on Tuesday evening, was composed by individuals like that.
That isn’t news. From the beginning in March 2018, the BBC has been a platform for the British Government’s narrative that Russia, directed by President Vladimir Putin, waged chemical warfare on British soil, attempting to assassinate Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and then killing Dawn Sturgess. In May of 2018 – almost three months after the Skripals were attacked on March 4; one month before Sturgess was hospitalised — the corporation broadcast a series of interviews with the medical staff at Salisbury District Hospital attempting to prove that a Russian-made nerve agent called Novichok had been the weapon of the crime. The BBC broadcaster, Mark Urban — he admitted later – had been preparing interviews with Skripal by arrangement with the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and then to have produced his book on the case with the NATO information warfare unit, Bellingcat. In November 2018, the corporation broadcast a fresh hour claiming to be the “inside story” of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
The corporation then began negotiations on an even longer version of the story. By mid-May 2019 money was committed and other terms agreed for what was initially planned to be “a two-part factual drama”. Casting followed; filming began in October of that year. The drama was stretched into three parts. The facts were stretched, too.
Unravelling the facts composed by a crooked man trying to lie straight can be a whodunit of the conventional English type. This time, though, the BBC has revealed the complicated plot of a true crime hatched in the Cabinet Office in London by a character the new film introduces with an untraceable name.
Just over a year ago, five New York Times reporters published lies about the dead ducks they were told had been killed by Russian assassins running amok in the English town of Salisbury with a poison they called Novichok. This was a lie which came from the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gina Haspel. She told her lie to President Donald Trump, who promoted her to head the CIA a few days later. She then handed the lie to the reporters to print as proof of how much the President trusted her.
Two of the reporters, called Julian Barnes (lead image, centre) and Adam Goldman (right), refused to explain, retract or apologise for repeating Haspel’s lie as if it was the truth. They stuck to the lie even after the Salisbury authorities announced there had been no dead ducks. Instead, after three weeks of what Barnes called “research”, Haspel told them to print that she had shown Trump “pictures illustrating the consequences of nerve agent attacks, not images specific to the chemical attack in Britain”. That was a correction of the photographs, not of the lies which Haspel had told Trump, and the reporters continued to repeat.
Barnes and Goldman have now repeated more lies, this time about police violence against blacks in the US. The lies are occurring because “the Russian government has stepped up efforts to inflame racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election.” This time Barnes and Goldman repeat the lying because “seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence” told them to say so. The seven told the two to print that on March 10. Now look what has happened.
Pandemic or no pandemic, misery always and everywhere craves company.
After he had been running a high fever with diarrhoea and other symptoms, scribbling notes on the progression of his illness — London’s typhus plague of 1623 — John Donne not only wrote, famously, “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” He also added that publishing his fear shouldn’t be called “a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours… for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.”
If you were suffering from dizziness, anxiety, and paranoia when you began reading this, continuing to read will be no cure – except you will feel less alone. This is because you aren’t – and that’s part of the remedy. Or is it?
The increase of domestic violence among families locked into their homes for the past twelve weeks suggests there is a human limit to coping with other people’s miseries. Depression among doctors, nurses and paramedics currently treating Covid-19 patients is rising sharply. For patients who recover, the corona virus has neurological impacts, difficult to detect and easy to misinterpret as psychotic breaks. There has also been a spiking of public distrust in whatever others say, including politicians running for or trying to hold on to office, police, medical administrators, and most of all, the social, mass and alternative media.
Telephoning the International Institute of Psychosomatic Health in Moscow for their wagon to deliver a psychologist to your door may be an option. But the psychologist inside the wagon has spent the past week refusing to answer questions about the Institute’s service, except for the price. Now that’s the recognisable sound, as Donne used to say, of a bell tolling for thee.
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.”
Roula Khalaf (lead image, right) is the only editor of a major London newspaper about whom next to nothing important is obvious, not even her name.
She was appointed last year by Tsuneo Kita (left), chairman of Nikkei, the Japanese media group and owner of the paper, to succeed Lionel Barber as editor. On January 20 of this year, Kita assigned Khalaf a seat on the board of Financial Times Limited, the entity through which the Japanese run their marginally profitable London property. The UK company registration reveals that Khalaf is a maiden name, and that her legal name is Roula Khalaf Razzouk.
The disguise is for policy reasons, according to two people close to the matter. Khalaf Razzouk began her career in the Financial Times (FT) in 1995. She has advanced over the past 25 years, FT sources claim, by taking orders from her superiors and never reporting outside the guidelines of the FT’s management. Conformity to the interests of the beneficial owner has been the rule of her journalism; anonymity her method for concealing from readers what the beneficial owner’s interests are. This combination of conformity and anonymity has provided Khalaf Razzouk with one target to be attacked on every front and at every opportunity. That’s the combination of Syria and Russia.
This is Khalaf Razzouk’s policy; and she conceals it for personal reasons also. They spring from her husband’s business interests and his and her background in the well-known el-Solh family of Beirut. From the el-Solhs have come four Lebanese prime ministers on the Sunni moslem side of the Beirut line; a financial and political alliance against the Saudi succession of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; together with considerable wealth which the family has accumulated over almost a century. The husband’s name is Assaad Wajdi Razzouk. Khalaf manages to keep his personal details as secret as her husband and their families in Beirut keep her secret.
What to make of the truthfulness of the newspaper Khalaf Razzouk is now directing when it demands transparency and accountability from its targets, but not from its director?
Pilate, Judas Iscariot and Joshua Barabbas had combined to produce the eye-witness
book on the life and death of Jesus Christ, whose anniversary falls this month,
it wasn’t heard of when it was newsworthy, in the first years of the first
century AD; readers have been deterred from looking for it ever since.
Religious faith does that sort of thing to eye-witness testimony, documents,
financial accounts, court rulings and other forms of evidence.
Likewise, Catherine Belton (lead image, centre) has produced a book with Sergei Pugachev (left), the man who stole more than two billion dollars from the Central Bank of Russia and other banks; was convicted in a British court of trying to hide it; fled to France to escape two years in prison if the English can catch him. Paying to print and market their collaboration is Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s (first right) media holding, News Ltd.
and Pugachev have composed a gospel about the evil that is Russia under
President Vladimir Putin, and the virtue they say they believed in when Boris
Yeltsin was ruler. “We were sitting in the kitchen of Pugachev’s latest
residence, a three-storey townhouse in the well-heeled London area of Chelsea,”
Belton begins, introducing the faith the two of them share with Mikhail
Khodorkovsky (lead image, extreme right); the ghost of the hanged Boris
Berezovsky; Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin’s son-in-law; and others identified
anonymously as the collaborators upon whom Belton relies and whom she requires
her co-religionists to accept as gospel too.
Three disciples have sworn their faith publicly so far – Luke Harding of The Guardian; Edward Lucas of The Times, and Oliver Bullough, once a reporter at the BBC. “The most remarkable account so far,” says Harding, “of Putin’s rise from a KGB operative to deadly agent provocateur in the hated west”. “Its only flaw,” Harding mentions, “is a heavy reliance on well-placed anonymous sources. Talking publicly about Kremlin corruption is dangerous, as the polonium fate of Alexander Litvinenko shows. Still, the lack of names can be frustrating.” Frustrating is the word that came to St. Paul’s mind when he was having directional trouble on the road between Jerusalem and Damascus. Inadmissible in a court of law, Pilate would have said. A pack of lies, according to Judas and Barabbas.
“Fact, not fiction,” declared Edward Lucas, an employee on the fiction floor of the same London office building as Harper Collins. “Catherine Belton, for years a Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, relates it with clarity, detail, insight and bravery.” “The Putin book that we’ve been waiting for,” Bullough said messianically. You won’t be risking perdition yourself if you don’t wait.
The truth is
that Consortium News trusted a
Russian entity named the Strategic Culture Foundation and a Ukrainian reporter called
Arina Tsukanova for a story published on February 27, 2017, about Chrystia
Freeland’s grandfather Mikhail Chomiak, a propagandist and spy for the German
Army who advocated and assisted in the murder of the Jews, Poles and Russians
during World War II, and took his reward by stealing Jewish property –
publishing company, office, apartment, antique furniture, and limousine.
The story about
Freeland and the ethnic cleansing of Ukraine on which Freeland agrees,
still, with Chomiak, was the truth. It’s also a truth she tries to
escape by blaming the Russian state or Kremlin propaganda for repeating. Repeating
doesn’t turn the truth into a lie, though as Joseph Goebbels advised, repeating
the lie helps.
The point isn’t
that Freeland is culpable in her grandfather’s sins. Her sin is hiding them,
and her reason for doing so. She agrees
with Chomiak on turning Ukraine into the Greater Galicia it was Adolf Hitler’s
objective to achieve between 1939 to 1945: that’s to say, cleanse the territory
of Jews, Poles and Russians by killing them all. Chomiak succeeded with the
first two; he was then employed by the US Army on the third. Freeland is keeping
the plan in the family; they now have the Canadian government behind them. Demonizing Russians is part of the same plan as
it was in Chomiak’s day.
The irony is
that the Freeland-Chomiak story was plagiarized from an American reporter who
first published the details on January 19, 2017. At the time, and still, he was
banned from entering Russia by the Kremlin because, according to a senior
official in Moscow, “he writes bad things about our country”; no western
journalist has been banned for as long – since September 27, 2010. The reporter
There’s another truth wrapped in an irony. Arina Tsukanova, the byline writer of the Strategic Culture Foundation story and the Consortium News story, cannot be found; isn’t known at the media of Kiev and Crimea where her published pieces claim she works; and doesn’t reply to emails and Facebook communications. She is a ghost—a byline invented by the Strategic Culture Foundation in Moscow.
Dominic Cummings, presently a powerful and wealthy 47-year old special advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was hard at work in Moscow and Samara for three years, between 1994 and 1997. He has acknowledged himself that “I worked in Russia 1994-7 on various projects.” This was no news to the Russian authorities then or since; it is also an advertisement to British critics and media investigators in London that however much Cummings’ role in plotting the Brexit referendum and Johnson’s no-deal ultimatums have antagonized many, Cummings once, and still now, enjoys the protection and confidence of the British secret services.
The three Cummings years in Russia were a period of fierce undercover combat between MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, and Russia’s reviving foreign and counter-intelligence services, successors to the Soviet KGB — the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service), led by Yevgeny Primakov, and the FSB (Federal Security Service) under Sergei Stepashin and Mikhail Barsukov.
That was also the time a junior MI6 spy named Christopher Steele was running operations in the Volga region south of Moscow, starting in Samara. When his cover was blown in the spring of 1993, Steele was evacuated to home office to train replacements. Just over a year later, after graduating slowly from Oxford, Cummings’ time started in Samara. That too came to an abrupt and unsuccessful end. Cummings himself is behind the hint published in his Wikipedia profile that he “fell foul of the KGB”. Since then Steele has become more successful at running operations and agents in Washington; Cummings more successful on Downing Street.
But in the mid-1990s what exactly was Cummings doing in Samara and other places in Russia, for whom was he working, what contact did he have with Steele, and why was he ordered out of Russia – these are questions Cummings was asked to explain on Monday. He refuses to answer. (more…)
Classical music has been one of the features of Russian national identity and patriotic sentiment since the 1917 Revolution, especially among the self-professing intelligentsia of Moscow and St. Petersburg. That meant Tchaikovsky alongside Pushkin; Shostakovich and Prokofiev beside Gorky and Sholokhov.
Even during the past twenty years, the classical music audience on Russian radio has continued to grow, while in the rest of Europe similar audiences have been dwindling. But now, after five years of war against Russia and contracting state budgets and incomes, are listeners still tuned in? Or is the audience for Russian classical music doomed because the ears are aging, then dying off; or because young ears use digital streaming instead of traditional radio?
Radio Orfei — heir to the Fourth Programme of the Soviet All-Union Radio and since 1991 the state-funded classical music broadcaster – insists its music audience is defying the trend that is eating away at BBC Radio 3, KulturRadio of Germany, and France Musique. But the commercial radio audience measurements for Moscow suggest otherwise, at least right now. They show that Radio Orfei can no longer be counted in the Top-40 of Moscow radio stations. Worse, its audience reach has slipped below one percent of the total radio audience. By contrast, BBC 3’s audience reach is currently at four percent.
On the other hand, a new report by a London-based consultancy says digital streaming isn’t the death knell. “Despite classical music’s timeline beginning somewhere in medieval times, it feels like its time is about to arrive again,” reports Keith Jopling of Midia Research. “While the classical music genre accounts for just five percent of the global recorded music market…classicial music is opening up, with ‘mood-based’ playlists on streaming services reaching many millions mor, often younger listeners drawn in by the music’s ability to evoke mood, emotion, or offer something truly different to the more popular genres of the day.” (more…)
Stephen Adler (lead image), the American chief executive of Reuters news agency, has ordered into publication three US Government-directed stories targeting the Russian oil company Rosneft — the first in mid-April, and two published over the past week. Adler’s operations support US coup plans in Venezuela and US sanctions against Rosneft and its chief executive, Igor Sechin.
The three publications — the first already corrected by the news agency; the second commissioned from a writer outside the company; the latest missing its byline or author’s name — have triggered dismay among Reuters’ reporters worldwide. A New York source claims Adler’s promotion of US Government-sourced propaganda violates the Reuters Trust Principles which have regulated the international news agency since 1941.
The first two Reuters principles Adler is accused of breaking are that “Reuters shall at no time pass into the hands of any one interest, group, or faction; [and] that the integrity, independence, and freedom from bias of Thomson Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved.”
Bloomberg sources, commenting privately, say they are delighted at the damage to their rival’s reputation. A Bloomberg reporter, briefed by the same sources as Adler’s, repeated one of the Reuters stories against Rosneft last week.
A US investment banker says he’s thinking of shorting his shares of Thomson Reuters, the parent media corporation listed in Toronto and New York, on the calculation that their 63% growth over the past year is now peaking. (more…)
Russia has grown up; Derk Sauer (lead image), boy scout for American, Dutch and NATO plots for Kremlin regime change since Boris Yeltsin left office, can’t.
Under cover of Russian frontmen, he has bought back the Moscow Times, and put his son Pyotr in charge of opinion. The opinion is the same as it was when Sauer started in Moscow in 1992. Mark Ames, the scourge of Moscow Times duplicity then, says now: “They’re trying to make the MT even more boring than it ever was, with just a hint of standard Moscow liberal politics. Right now Derk seems like a garden gnome I dreamed about long ago.” (more…)
A copy of the Russian-Turkish agreement, negotiated on Monday in Sochi by President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has appeared. If its authenticity is confirmed, it will mark the first official Russian acknowledgement of partition of Syria, allowing Turkey to resume control of the Ottoman territory in northwestern Syria which was lost following the Turkish defeat in World War I.
According to the published terms, Putin has agreed to Turkey playing the role of “guarantor” of ceasefires throughout Syria. Putin has also accepted reinforcement and expansion of Turkish military forces in the Idlib governorate according to the formula of “fortification” of Turkish “observation posts”; their number, already twelve, has not been restricted in area or limited in manning and firepower in the new pact. Putin also agreed to “take all necessary meassures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib will be avoided and the existing status quo will be maintained.” This is Russia’s undertaking to prevent the Syrian Government and its forces from reclaiming Syrian territory and resuming sovereingty lost to the US and NATO-backed forces seeking to take power in Damascus.
The full extent of the new Turkish-ruled territory has been postponed, according to the wording of the Sochi pact. “The delineation of the exact lines of the demilitarised zone will be determined,” Point 4 says, “through further consultations.” This proviso allows Turkish forces to consolidate their territorial control eastward towards Aleppo, under Russian cover, ignoring the Syrian government.
Optimists believe that in time the truth always wins out. Skeptics believe men and women are liars by nature, so machines are necessary to catch them out. Pessimists believe that by the time that happens it will be too late to make a practical difference. Politics, the pessimists add, is about gain, not about truth. So is journalism.
Here are two stories about the difference between Australia and Canada in the way in which lying by ministers of state has been caught out recently on the subject of the civil war in Ukraine. Australia and Canada are former British colonies, whose head of state is still the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. They are also parliamentary democracies, and members of US treaty alliances which encourage them to fight in US wars in exchange for US protection if they are attacked. That’s the political practice, if not quite the truth. (more…)
Since Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s version, expressed mortal surprise that his best friend Brutus would put in the knife, there have been no end of political surprises at whose hand turns out to be on the assassin’s knife. In the case of the hit in January on then-Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, it is clear to the Canadian foreign policy establishment, members acknowledge, that it was Chrystia Freeland’s hand. Before, she was a junior trade minister; after, she took Dion’s portfolio as foreign minister.
Eight weeks later, it’s becoming clear to Canadian sources that the hand on the knife that is now sticking in Freeland is not the Russian one she is reporting to the Canadian press. That is sticking into her full frontally, and it is less than mortal. Her screams for help have brought a great many screamers to her side.
It’s the knife in Freeland’s back that is more lethal. That, it is now revealed in Ottawa, is coming from a quiet group of foreign policy advisors around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They aren’t motivated by revenge on Dion’s behalf as much as concern for their Canada — the policy-making and money-making apparatus on which their future livelihoods depend. In that Canada they don’t want Freeland to remain foreign minister or become prime minister. For one thing, they say, she’s a liar and cannot be trusted by anyone. (more…)
This is not a story about the past, nor about blaming the crimes of the fathers and grandfathers on their sons and daughters, or granddaughters.
This is a story of the moment when the crimes of the past and the criminal intent today turn out to be the same thing: Russian-hating today is a race crime, just as Jew-hating and Pole-hating were crimes, and still are. No Canadian foreign minister or member of parliament, no Canadian Mountie, no Dudley Do-Right should be culpable of such crimes. (more…)
The US nuclear-armed missile destroyer, USS Porter, was steaming full-speed across the Black Sea in the direction of the Russian coastline, its Tomahawk firing radars activated, when a Russian airborne signals reconnaissance aircraft and three SU-24 fighter-bombers arrived in three waves. The US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart announced that the incidents had occurred on Tuesday, February 14, calling the Russian flights “unsafe and unprofessional”, putting the vessel and the militaries of the US and Russia at risk of “accident or miscalculation.” The Pentagon repeated the exact words after daylight broke on the same day in Washington. But that was four days after the incidents had actually taken place on Friday, February 10. The Russian Defense Ministry replied in the Moscow evening of February 14 that there “were no incidents”.
The release this week of news, or no news, or fake news has occurred on the eve of Thursday’s meeting between the US and Russian chiefs of the General Staffs, General Joseph Dunford and General Valery Gerasimov. Dunford, a Marine Corps officer, was appointed to the Pentagon post, the most senior ranking uniform officer under Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump, by former President Barack Obama on October 1, 2015. Dunford’s 2-year term runs out in eight months’ time. A statement from Dunford’s office, issued yesterday, claims the meeting, to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, “will discuss a variety of issues, including the current state of U.S.-Russian military relations and the importance of consistent and clear military-to-military communication to prevent miscalculation and potential crises.”
Moscow sources in a position to know believe the US military was either exaggerating, or faking, last week’s incidents around the USS Porter – Destroyer Designated Guided, DDG-78 is its fleet number — in order to put pressure on President Trump’s readiness to relax the US policy of all-fronts confrontation with the Kremlin. (more…)
Amazon.com Incorporated makes annual sales of $107 billion, growing at a rate of 30% so far this year. The market capitalization of its shares is currently $366 billion, increasing by 14%. Imagine what would happen to both if the control shareholder and chief executive of the company, Jeffrey Bezos (lead image), ordered Amazon.com to issue a disclaimer with every transaction that Amazon does not vouch for the delivery of goods to their buyers, nor that its goods will work according to Amazon’s advertising.
That no-vouch, no-truth disclaimer was published overnight by one of the advertising and promotion agencies of the Bezos group, the Washington Post (WaPo). Bezos bought the loss-making publication in 2013 for $250 million through an entity he created for the takeover called Nash Holdings LLC. Nash Holdings is Bezos’ s private affair, with only a Delaware registration, a post office box and a telephone number in Seattle to show for itself. Media industry analysts believe WaPo continues to be loss-making, as it was before the Bezos takeover, but the losses are now covered by Amazon income deposited in Nash Holdings; by loss offsets allowed by the Internal Revenue Service; and by Bezos’s plan to make more money selling the devices on which to read WaPo than the newspaper’s cost of production.
Responding to consumer protests that WaPo’s reading material on Russia is defective and false, and that its reporter on Russian propaganda, Craig Timberg, is a fabricator, the newspaper announced last night that it “does not itself vouch for the validity” of what it publishes about Russia, the recent US presidential election, or American democracy. For “validity”, the Washington Post’s editors mean truth. For “does not vouch for”, they mean what Nash Holdings and Bezos are calculating as a put-call option on lying. (more…)
For empires to rule, their agents must hang on to their monopoly of force, fraud and subversion, inside the home country as well as in its far flung dominions. Subversion means persuading people to believe what is true and good, when that’s false and bad for them. Propaganda, in short.
It was a close run thing in Russia during the time of Boris Yeltsin and the Clinton family. But nowadays on the Ukraine front and the Syria front, Russian force is prevailing. On all the other US war fronts Washington’s agents are losing; that includes small islands like Cyprus and big ones like the Philippines.
The British voted for Brexit; the French for François Fillon and Marine LePen; and the Americans for Donald Trump because the fraud enriching their ruling elites became too pervasive, too obvious for the subversion of public opinion to explain it away or cover it up.
The US and European sanctions against Russia have been a colossal miscalculation because they give Russians a rationale for the misery that has come, not only with rouble devaluation and the loss of oil and gas export income, but also from the inequality inflicted by the oligarch system which replaced the communist one. In cutting the Russian oligarchs and state banks off from the international capital they regularly stole and converted into offshore assets, the sanctions have forced self-sufficiency on a reluctant Kremlin, and neutralized, for the time being, the most powerful Russian lobby in favour of Americanization and — what amounted to the same thing, globalization. What’s left of the fraud and conversion lobby in Moscow – Anatoly Chubais, Alexei Kudrin, Alexei Ulyukaev – is now under one form of house arrest or another.
Whereas the first assault on Russia by western journalists, a quarter of a century ago, was the sign of the collapse of Russian resistance, this time it’s the reverse – the signs of US and Anglo-European collapse, and Russian revival. We’re going to have to live a long time to figure out which side turns out to be civilized, which barbarian. Uncertainty like this used to be called the Dark Ages. (more…)
Since he first came to Russia as a Dutch journalist with leftwing claims, money, unlike butter, has always melted in Derk Sauer’s mouth (lead image). Until last week there’s been a quite lot of it — more of it for Sauer to keep than for the string of loss-making publications he has run in Moscow.
Sauer has been identified as a target in an investigation by state prosecutors of fraud at the RBC media group in Moscow. Mikhail Prokhorov owns the control stake in the group; Sauer has been his employee to supervise the editorial and financial sides of the business. A police raid on the offices of Onexim, the Prokhorov holding where Sauer is a vice-president, took place on April 14. Charges against RBC were announced by the Ministry of Interior on April 29. The editors of RBC were sacked last Friday, May 13. More criminal charges have been foreshadowed; Onexim, Sauer, and RBC executives deny them categorically.
A source close to Prokhorov says: “Mikhail doesn’t want to tell anybody, but the people close to him believe that the main reason is [President Vladimir] Putin took personal offence when RBC published a number of articles on the younger daughter Ekaterina and her husband’s [Kirill Shamalov] business, when Putin refused to approve or support one of Mikhail’s projects.” (more…)
In the recent history of Russian classical music, Mstislav Rostropovich grew so rich with the cello – Vladimir Spivakov with fiddle, Valery Gergiev with baton, too — how to explain that the broadcasting of classical music on the radio has grown so poor?
The technologies of digital reproduction of music are now so cheap, the radio audience can listen to far greater sound quality at a fraction of the price Rostropovich used to demand. The devices available for broadcasting and listening are also far smaller, higher in sound quality, and more affordable than ever before. With stream programming like Sweden’s Spotify, radio audiences can even assemble their own concerts, and do away with the cost of presenters, engineers and producers playing maestro themselves to justify their pay. Not to mention the costs of microphones, players, sound desks, transmitters, and radio frequencies. (more…)
In a few days’ time, on August 1, Gerda Taro would have turned 104. The encomiums would have been bound to describe her as the oldest, possibly the first, woman photojournalist. But Taro hasn’t made it. Instead, on July 26, 1937, she died after being crushed by a Spanish Republican tank while the car she was riding on was strafed by an aircraft of the Condor Legion . She was just 27. At her funeral in Paris, the encomiums described her as a brave comrade in arms on the Republican side of Spain’s civil war. She was the first woman photojournalist to die in combat. The kaddish her father said at her coffin during the funeral was omitted from the coverage arranged by the French Photographers’ Union. Robert Capa, her lover who stole much of the credit for her work in the years to follow, wept buckets and stopped eating for a while. (more…)
In March, when he thought it was safe to speak his mind at the Amber Restaurant in Warsaw, Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw (Radek) Sikorski (lead image, left) used a racial expletive to refer to the Polish relationship with the US government, which is so unpleasant, noone outside Poland has been willing to translate it into English. That was on top of an expletive describing what Sikorski said Poland’s metaphorical mouth has been doing with the US government’s metaphorical sexual organ.
Sikorski was talking with Jacek Rostowski; like Sikorski, Rostowski is a British-educated, British national, and a recent finance minister in Donald Tusk’s current Polish government. They were dining just after Crimea had voted to join the Russian Federation, and as the US government announced the first round of sanctions. The tape-recording, which has begun to be published by the Polish weekly Wprost, also reproduces jokes Sikorski told Rostowski, including one about a man with multiple sclerosis who over-exerts himself at a brothel. (more…)
Not every despotic and corrupt ruler of a former Soviet state is the target of US Government plots to overthrow him, not even those whose taste in interior decoration and jewellery is as awful as Victor Yanukovich’s, the ex-president of Ukraine.
Emomali Rahmon (image), the president of Tajikistan since 1992, has been the target of corruption allegations by the US Government in the past. But for the time being he is protecting himself with a Washington lobbying campaign costing at least $100,000 per month. For his exterior decorator Rahmon has hired James Fabiani, a former congressional staffer turned public relations agent. His eponymous lobbying company employs an Englishman named Alex Botting to arrange meetings with US Government officials, US Congressional staff, and also, according to Botting, Washington-based executives of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. (more…)
This year the Moscow School of Management at Skolkovo is planning to publish what it calls a market atlas of the jobs and professions which will be newly needed by the year 2020, and those needed no longer. One of the new ones is what the Skolkovo atlas calls a cyber-cleaner (кибердворник). This is a specialist in removing from the internet and all digital data archives whatever information someone pays to have cleaned or deleted entirely. One of the professions the cyber-cleaners will replace, according to the atlas, is journalism.
That’s just six years away. But for at least a handful of the Skolkovo school’s coordination council — Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Alexander Voloshin, Anatoly Chubais – none too soon. So ask yourself the question — will they too be cleaned or washed up this year, or by 2020? For the answer, a little old-fashioned journalism may go a long way. Read on.
The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.
In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration: “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”
By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”
To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.
A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”
The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.
Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.” Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the 6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected, Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.
The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.
Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.
By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world. Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.
The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.
Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.” Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.
The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.
Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”
The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire, the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.
In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders, knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.
Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.
In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”
This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention. In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.
Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials, to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.
By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.
“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”. He means the Ukraine border is the red line.
Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.
US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11 highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.
In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.
Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.
The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other. Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilificationof society.
In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them. It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.
When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.
While his wife and the Navy officer who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion, or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.
The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.
What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States, is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase. But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.
Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”
In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.
With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”, is just the ticket from now to then.