ALEXEI MORDASHOV TRIES TO SELL HIS NORDGOLD SHARES OUTSIDE RUSSIA AGAIN, BUT HIS FAILURE ISN’T THE LESSON THE RUSSIA WARFIGHTERS WANT YOU TO BELIEVE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Last month the Russian metals and mining oligarch, Alexei Mordashov (lead image, left), took a spectacular  pratfall in front of the international money markets. Not even hand-holding by Citigroup, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Bank of Montreal could save him from the public embarrassment.

On June 3, Mordashov and the banks announced his intention to sell shares in his goldmining company Nordgold (Nord  Gold PLC) on the London Stock Exchange, telling investors that future demand and the price of gold, and hence the profitability of Mordashov’s company, are bound to be  boosted because of “possible inflationary pressures in the medium term from an exceptionally low interest rate environment and the possibility of currency revaluations, including U.S. dollar depreciation”.

On June 22, Mordashov got a Nordgold executive to announce the share sale was cancelled for the foreseeable future. His reason was that “acceleration in expected interest rate rises have created significant uncertainty and volatility in the resources sector, in particular impacting gold and gold equities. Nordgold has determined that it would therefore not be sensible to pursue an IPO at this particular juncture.”

If inflation was good reason for buying shares in Mordashov’s business at the start of the month, and then in less than three weeks Mordashov’s reason for not selling the shares, then Mordashov has made a fool of the market and a liar of himself. “That has to be bullshit,” responded a leading London mining analyst, who believes Mordashov’s vanity is to blame for imagining his shares would fetch a higher value in the market than share-buyers are willing to pay; and also Citigroup, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Bank of Montreal and the other bankers and brokers involved who were “too afraid to give him good advice on pricing.”

There is one thing more laughable in this episode than that.  This is the effort which the Russia-warfighting media in London – for the first time combining Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspapers with Ian Hislop’s Private Eye —   to make the failure of the share sale attempt appear to be an act of “British policy towards Putin and Russia’s rich”, in the words of Private Eye — as symbolic as the voyage of HMS Defender across the Crimean red line on June 23,  the day after Mordashov and his bankers took their tumble.

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NODDY DOES IT AGAIN — ALEXEI MORDASHOV ASKS THE PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA, ALSO THE PRESIDENT OF CYPRUS, TO BELIEVE WHAT A GOOD BOY HE IS

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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.

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CANADIAN DRAGON VERSUS RUSSIAN RAIDER – ALEXEI MORDASHOV MEETS HIS MATCH AT COLUMBUS GOLD, OR VICE VERSA

By John Helmer, Moscow

For the first time Canadian mine stock investors say that Russian mining and metals oligarch Alexei Mordashov has run into resistance to his takeover schemes by a combination of share dilution, insider rewards,  and share price manipulation —  tactics which  have succeeded for Mordashov when he acquired the last three Canadian goldminers he took aim at.  

Speaking of the takeover now under way by Mordashov’s London-listed Nordgold for Toronto-listed Columbus Gold, shareholders, analysts, insiders and stock promoters have been discussing on the Canadian Stockhouse bulletin board  what they expect to happen next. A small stakeholder told others on the bullboard in December: “Can’t see any reason Nord does not move quickly on [Columbus Gold]  as it will only get more expensive.”  A few days later, Brien Lundin, a gold stockpicker in the US,  advised his clients to take advantage of the Russian interest:  “I urge you to take advantage of any market-induced weakness to buy the company in advance of the feasibility study.”  Another bullboard entry warned on February 9: “Pretty obvious they’re going to take us out, put those 5 million Z’s [gold reserves] in their portfolio, and continue on with their growth plan. We’re the proverbial low hanging fruit, it’s now just a matter of price.”

The next day another commentator warned: “As for [Columbus Gold].. NORD has never failed to follow through on eventually taking over a company in which they have picked up a notable minority stake.” He drew the response:  “NORD would definitely like to steal it but they won’t be able to because too many other buyers want it also. So NORD may decide to sell instead at a premium and take their marbles somewhere else where they can get a better deal.” 

The Canadian consensus is that Mordashov is making a raid on Columbus Gold. “What I think we have to watch for is if they low ball us like they don’t want any partners, putz around for a year or so, then sell the whole shooting match to one of the above for a $ billion or better, screwing us out of our fair share. Got to keep a close eye on those Russians…” (more…)

ANOTHER FAKE PRIVATIZATION, ANOTHER LOAN FOR SHARES — SUKHOI LOG, THE BIGGEST GOLDMINE LICENCE IN RUSSIA, GIVEN TO SERGEI CHEMEZOV AND SULEIMAN KERIMOV

 

By John Helmer, Moscow

Gold reserves are handy in wartime, especially when your enemies are the United States Government and the US dollar banking system operating worldwide.  

So, since the war to overthrow President Vladimir Putin began in 2014, the Central Bank of Russia has accelerated its purchases of gold bullion by more than double, becoming the largest gold buyer among the world’s central banks, and the holder of the sixth largest gold reserve.  Roughly half the volume of this gold has been bought by the Central Bank from Russian goldmines.

Putin has also decided to start digging out Sukhoi Log, in Irkutsk region. That’s the largest unmined gold deposit in Russia, and one of the biggest proven reserves of mineable gold in the world.

For the past quarter of a century, the Kremlin has been unwilling to decide who, if anybody, will be permitted to mine Sukhoi Log.  That decision was finally made last week, when Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev confirmed the award of the licence to mine Sukhoi Log to a special purpose company formed by Russian Technologies (Rostec, Ростех,  RT) and Polyus Gold. Together, they are paying Rb9.406 billion (about $162 million) for the licence.  “According to the Governmental order affirming the results of the auction, SL Gold Limited Liability Company…, a company established by JSC Polyus and LLC RT Business Development [Rostec], will be granted the right to develop Sukhoi Log for the exploration works and extraction of gold and silver…Subject to obtaining the license, the Company intends to conduct additional exploration works and a feasibility study, which is expected to last for approximately three to four years, supported by international mining and engineering consultants. Based on the results of that study, the Company will evaluate options to initiate construction activities at the Sukhoi Log.”

What this means is that Rostec and Polyus Gold are promising to take up to four years to re-read the mountain of geological, metallurgical and engineering studies, reports and plans compiled on Sukhoi Log for 25 years  by every major Russian and international mine consultancy, including the leading goldminers of Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the UK. Then, when the re-reading is done, Rostec and Polyus Gold aren’t promising to produce any gold at all. On this undertaking, they have borrowed state bank cash in order to pay the state budget a licence fee. This looks like a privatization, but it is a phantom. (more…)

ALEXEI MORDASHOV PREPARES $400 MILLION DOLLAR TAKEOVER OF CANADIAN GOLDMINER – HIT AND RUN FOR KREMLIN FOREIGN INVESTMENT BAN

By John Helmer, Moscow

Alexei Mordashov (lead image, top left), the mining and metals oligarch, promised President Vladimir Putin (centre) that in future he would stick to investing in Russia. “We did a great deal of work abroad,” he told  the President, “but came to the conclusion that our future lies primarily in Russia, in the Russian market, and our production here is most efficient. We sold the North American division and are focusing almost entirely on our Russian assets.” That was on January 19, 2015.

Mordashov was back in front of Putin at the Kremlin this week, telling him on December 19: “I would also like to ask you not to reduce the level of your cooperation.”  What Mordashov didn’t tell Putin was how much he has invested in Canadian goldmining over the past year, and how much more, according to Russian and Canadian sources,  he is planning to invest next year. That may come to $400 million if a gold prospect in French Guiana, owned by a Canadian mining company, turns out to be El Dorado when a report Mordashov is preparing on the exploration results and gold value is due to be released next March.  (more…)

THIS IS MOSCOW CALLING! PARDON THE INTERRUPTION

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By John Helmer, Moscow

If you can read this, you missed an attack on this website. It started, coincidentally, when the Moscow office day commenced. The general commanding our rocket forces forbids us to reveal  the method of attack and  how it was intercepted and zapped, restoring our coverage of stories like this one on Alexei Mordashov’s takeover of the goldminer Northquest. Click

Not that he and Nordgold would have anything to do with this morning’s attack on our website. But if  he and the Nordgold raiders try to attack Toronto-listed Columbus Gold, their next target according to a leading Canadian gold market source, we are ready.  “The Canadian rules need to change,” the source recommends, “so that the resisting minority shareholders get to put forward their own third-party valuation as a comparison to the one done by the newly formed Board of the acquirer.  This would at least give a high and low valuation which could be subject to mediation.”

GOLDFINGER, LIGHT FINGER — ALEXEI MORDASHOV TAKES ANOTHER CANADIAN GOLDMINE ON THE CHEAP

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By John Helmer, Moscow

In the criminal fraternity it’s believed that light fingers are a juvenile condition it’s best for the practicioner to grow out of when more serious property transfers are in contemplation.

Alexei Mordashov (lead image, right), the Russian steelmaker and goldminer, is a quick learner and a grown-up. With a net worth currently estimated at over $15 billion from Severstal, Nordgold, and other Russian businesses, his record of asset buying has more often been one of paying too much, and losing money, especially in the US. Last month, however, in litigation in Ontario, Canada, he was charged by shareholders of the gold prospector Northquest Limited,   with manipulation of the company’s executives and board in order to take over the company’s gold for a steal.

The resisting shareholders who took their case to the Ontario Superior Court, are veteran geologists with three decades of experience of gold deposits in the Nunavut territory of  northeastern Canada,  which are Mordashov’s target.  The resisters claim Mordashov’s goldmine holding Nordgold  has taken over Northquest at a fraction of its real value.  “In our view,” Brian Randa, one of the dissenting shareholders, told the court in October, according to the court records, “the valuation  [of Northquest’s gold prospects] is not worth the paper it is written on. They [Nordgold]  mispresented the true potential of this project by comparing the project to those with much less potential [in gold resources],  and by  excluding from consideration a vast tract of the licence area.  They tricked the shareholders into tendering [their shares at a low price].  The timing of this series of events was deliberately made to happen before the astonishing major Howitzer anomaly was further explored in the summer of 2016.”

Low-balling is a takeover tactic Nordgold has been accused of by Canadian goldmine shareholders at High River Gold and Crew Gold for many years.  Mordashov won those battles; for details, read this and this. In those cases, resisting shareholders claimed the light fingers went into Mordashov’s pockets. The Canadian courts and the Ontario regulator didn’t agree. (more…)

VITALY MASHITSKY ON THE KALININGRAD FRONT – HIGH STAKES IN THE AMBER GAME

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The old saw about how to make a small fortune can be adapted in Vitaly Mashitsky’s case, but you must still start with a large fortune — he’ll take care of the rest.

In a surprise to the amber industry of Kaliningrad, where about 95% of the world’s supply of amber is located, Mashitsky was appointed chairman of the board of the Kaliningrad Amber Combine (KYaK) late last month. The appointment was made by the state holding Russian Technologies (Rostec), which took over the combine in 2013, after bankruptcy, maladministration and bad business modelling left the enterprise unable to pay its debts, invest in modern mining, manufacturing or marketing, keep its workers, or attract serious capital. Rostec is run by Sergei Chemezov, a lifelong friend of Mashitsky’s, who has been pitching himself in Kaliningrad as the powerful lobbyist the region needs in Moscow. With his backing, Mashitsky began meeting senior figures in Kaliningrad and in the amber industry in recent days.

This month Mashitsky has also launched a selfie campaign in the Moscow press, publicizing his arrival as the new tsar of amber, and promising to replace black marketeers with billions of roubles in stable investment and employment for Kaliningrad. An amber industry observer in Kaliningrad, who had never heard of Mashitsky before last month, is skeptical. “Exactly what will follow down the track is not clear yet. We are just witnesses to what is happening.”
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IRON MAN TAKES A TUMBLE – WILL AFRICA SUCCEED AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, RUSSIA TOO, AS THE NEW LOW-COST GLOBAL SUPPLIER OF IRON-ORE?

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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Ukrainian civil war, and its aftermath, economic warfare between the US, the European Union, and Russia, are transforming the global flows of the minerals from which steel is made. Starting with iron-ore, the future for steelmaking will start at the minehead, not in Australia, nor Brazil, but in West Africa. That is if Gennady Bogolyubov, the Ukrainian miner, can help to produce high-grade iron-ore at a cash cost of $20 per tonne. At that price, Bogolyubov and China’s iron-ore traders and bankers calculate, they will be able to break free of the global price-fixing for the mineral which has been dominated, until now, by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in the US camp, and Vale of Brazil.
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US DECLARES WAR ON RUSSIA — TITANIUM

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Ukrainian government and commercial interests are lobbying the US Government to support a stealth sanction against VSMPO-AVISMA, the Russian supplier of titanium to Boeing and other US aerospace companies. Instead of VSMPO, the Ukrainians are seeking US government financing for the establishment of new high-grade titanium production lines at Zaporizhye Titanium and Magnesium Combine (ZTMC), and expansion of Ukrainian titanium exports to the US.

This week, a confidential message from the US Department of Commerce revealed that, “in recent meetings with U.S. Department of Commerce officials, the GOU [Government of Ukraine] expressed that it would like to have U.S. companies involved in the development of the titanium resources in Ukraine. The Commerce Department is, of course, very interested in encouraging the involvement of all U.S. companies in all relevant sectors given such an opportunity, and we are inviting input from industry regarding this topic.”
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PROKHOROV SLIPS THE TORONTO STOCK EXCHANGE A MICKEY FINN, ER, MAKE THAT A MAXIE FINN

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It was a specialty of the Chicago Irish at the turn of the 20th century. A Mickey Finn was a drug that was slipped into your cocktail without your knowing, in order to incapacitate you. When you came to, the only thing you knew was that you were missing your valuables. The eponymous Mickey Finn was a pickpocket who built his capital into a thriving business as the proprietor of the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden on the corner of Dearborn and Harrison Streets. (It’s a Starbucks nowadays. The girls Mickey used as lures now drink skinny lattes.)

Maxie Finn, aka Maxim Finsky (left front), is eponymous too. He is a childhood friend of Mikhail Prokhorov (left back), and he has been employed by him to buy assets on the cheap; consolidate them into special purpose vehicles which the two of them then try to resell. They’ve had one signal success. That was when Prokhorov jointly controlled Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company, with Vladimir Potanin. Finsky was employed to spend Norilsk Nickel’s money on buying goldmining assets at premium prices before they were spun off and separately listed as Polyus Gold. Finsky spent foolishly, or worse, read this. But no matter. The rise of the price of gold drove the share price of Polyus Gold ten times and more above the amount paid for its assets. For the ups and downs in that decade-long story, read here.
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EVRAZ SAYS NEMASCORE DELAYING HIGHVELD STEEL DEAL; RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT REPEATS DEMANDS FOR ZUMA TO MAKE UP HIS MIND

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Evraz, the steelmaking group owned by Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, has revealed that it cannot complete the sale of its South African steel subsidiary, Highveld Steel & Vanadium, on time, and that the South Africans are the reason for the fresh delay.

At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his South African counterpart, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in Moscow on Monday that the Kremlin wants to see less delay, more commitment from President Jacob Zuma on buying nuclear power reactors from Rosatom. Zuma, who has now arrived in St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit meeting, has met President Vladimir Putin twice already this year – in Durban in March, and in Sochi in May – and on each occasion the official communiques have pledged the same thing. Lavrov repeated this on Monday when at a press conference with Nkoana-Mashabane, he said Russia’s priority in its bilateral relationship with South Africa is the billion-dollar sale and purchase of reactors. “Russia is ready to assist in the creation in the Republic of South Africa of nuclear power,” Lavrov said. This, Lavrov emphasized, is the priority in “the complex of bilateral ties…further steps for implementation of these major arrangements…[and] the activization of investment cooperation.”
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SIBERIAN ANTHRACITE SHARE SALE COLLAPSES – REUTERS EMBARRASSED BY SHARE SALE ADVERTISEMENT

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By John Helmer, Moscow

An attempt by Siberian Anthracite, a little known Russian coal producer, to list and sell its shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) collapsed today, just hours after Reuters reported the sale was going ahead. According to the report from the Reuters Moscow Bureau, the initial public offering “has been subscribed by more than 50 percent, two market sources said on Thursday. Sibanthracite set a price range earlier in July of between $7.00 and $9.50 per global depositary receipt (GDR) for the share issue. The order book is expected to be closed later on Thursday, with final pricing announced on Friday.” No reporter byline was published with the despatch.

The Reuters claim intimated that the Russian company would start with a market capitalization on the LSE of about $850 million. Four banks were the promoters — JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Raiffeisen Bank International, and Sberbank.
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BLIND TRUST — SIBERIAN ANTHRACITE TRIES SELLING ITS SHARES FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME, WITHOUT AUDITED FINANCIAL REPORTS, CONSOLIDATION OF TRADING SCHEMES, OR DISCLOSURE OF OWNERSHIP

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It isn’t known whether Dmitry Shatokhin (right), the chief executive, board chairman, and apparent control shareholder of Siberian Anthracite, reads the news. Not the commodity price reports showing that the demand and price for the coal he is selling are falling. Rather, the news that President Vladimir Putin, along with the heads of the other G8 governments, agreed formally this week to put a stop to concealment of beneficiary ownership of public companies, and of the trust, tax and trading schemes by which hidden owners cheat public shareholders.

According to the G8 communique, “a lack of knowledge about who ultimately controls, owns and profits from companies and legal arrangements, including trusts, not only assists those who seek to evade tax, but also those who seek to launder the proceeds of crime, often across borders. We will make a concerted and collective effort to tackle this issue and improve the transparency of companies and legal arrangements. Improving transparency will also improve the investment climate.” If that’s the standard, how come Siberian Anthracite refuses to publish audited financial reports and won’t disclose the shareholding structure of the company?
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ANDREI MELNICHENKO’S MYSTERY LAWSUIT – SOUTH AFRICANS DENY RUSSIAN MINE CLAIM

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By John Helmer, Moscow

Eurochem, a Russian fertilizer miner and manufacturer owned by Andrei Melnichenko, is suing the South African mine technology company Shaft Sinkers for $800 million on account of a mining technology which Eurochem says has failed in Volgograd (image right). Shaft Sinkers says the technology works perfectly well, in Yorkshire (left) for example. $800 million is the sum of Eurochem’s claims. Much less than that is at stake — according to Shaft Sinkers $15 million in unpaid invoices – but also much more, in Kazakhstan, where Eurochem’s plan for a large new phosphate mine is in trouble of another sort. About that Eurochem doesn’t want to talk at all.

In 2008 Eurochem made several announcements about its new potash mine, Gremyachinskoye mine in Volgograd. In the context of Melnichenko’s proposal to reduce his personal exposure in the company, and sell assets to Gazprom or shares to international investors, Eurochem reported growing reserves, speed in mining new output, and jumping sales revenues. Gremyachinskoye was to be commissioned in two stages, start shipping 2.3 million tonnes of potash per annum in 2012, and by 2015 double that volume.
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THE MANGANESE REVOLUTION TO BRING BHP DOWN TO EARTH

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s not a good time to be a steelmaker — not if you are in Russia, not if you are in China, and certainly not if you are in the US or the European Union. But if mining manganese, the vital steel-hardening alloy, is what you do for a living, the coming three years look likely to transform worldwide control, as Russians reach self-sufficiency in manganese supply for the first time; and as a prominent Ukrainian prepares to share a large corner of the global market with the Chinese.

The reason that manganese can prosper while steel is in the doldrums is because almost all of its application is to steelmaking; and because “manganese has no satisfactory substitute in its major applications”, as periodic US Geological Service reports point out.

The new Russian manganese supply is coming from the little-known Siberian Mining and Metallurgical Company (SGMK), controlled by Alexander Rybkin, a former executive of the Evraz steel group. Rybkin’s influence is provincial, limited to his partners – the Evraz group, which has first call on SGMK’s new manganese supplies for its Kemerovo steelmills at Novokuznetsk; and the governor of Kemerovo region, Aman Tuleyev. Until now they have made SGMK’s manganese a captive of Evraz’s demands.
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RUSSIAN INTERVENTION AT ENRC – WHAT ARE THE STATE BANKS AND SULEIMAN KERIMOV DOING FOR THE KAZAKH MINING COMPANY, AND FOR WHOSE BENEFIT?

By John Helmer, Moscow

Righteous indignation is to investigative journalism what Joseph Goebbels was to truth. So what was really going on in the last days of April when the London media celebrated the Russians who this year topped the UK Rich List, but discovered something going badly, maybe criminally wrong at Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), a London-listed mining company controlled by three Kazakhs and the Kazakh government? If the London newspapers spell the name of one of ENRC’s owners, Alexander Mashkevich, in three different ways — Mahkevitch, according to the Telegraph; Machkevitch to the Guardian; and Mashkevich at the Financial Times and The Times — what to make of the reliability of the anonymous leaks, unseen documents and innuendo from the dismissed or the disgruntled, on which the media campaign against ENRC depends?

This isn’t a question to be answered right now. Instead, it’s what is already happening to take advantage of ENRC’s falling share price and market value that is in focus. For by the time the UK regulators get around to completing their investigations, and deciding what to do about them, the Kremlin will have intervened to coordinate and finance a multi-billion dollar takeover of control at ENRC. By then too, ENRC will no longer be a regulated entity on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
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THE MAN IN THE MOON – MIKHAIL PROKHOROV’S INTERGEO FAILS IN TORONTO FOR THE SECOND TIME

By John Helmer, Moscow

At a physicists’ teaparty, Albert Einstein once asked Niels Bohr whether the two of them should accept that “the moon does not exist if nobody is looking at it.” Bohr’s reply was that, hard as Einstein might try, so long as the moon was accompanied by noone, Einstein’s proof would be hard to come by.

As a businessman selling off visible assets for cash in the bank, Mikhail Prokhorov is rapidly becoming just such an unprovable moon. So Einstein to Bohr, he’s agreed with his trusted friend and manager, Dmitry Razumov, managing director of the Onexim holding in Moscow, to issue a public strategy statement and give the former’s lunacy more credibility. According to Razumov, the two of them speak once every two or three weeks, depending on Prokhorov’s phases. “He is completely away from the daily management of work items. He did not meet with the management; he isn’t included in the [Onexim] board of directors. However, he is still the main beneficiary. We are meeting relatively regularly to discuss politics and the economy.” Based on paper values, and before counting the impact of commodity price falls, Razumov says Onexim is worth between $13 billion and $15 billion. Here is the April 24 interview.
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IGOR ZYUZIN’S SUBTERFUGE – WHY MECHEL SHAREHOLDERS DON’T REALIZE THE COMPANY HAS BEEN NATIONALIZED

By John Helmer, Moscow

Igor Zyuzin (right) is almost entirely dependent on the Russian government for the solvency of his Mechel steelmaking and coalmining group. With between $9 billion and $10 billion in debt, Zyuzin, who owns 65.49% of Mechel’s shares and controls the company as chairman of its board, is now the steel and coal sector’s most heavily indebted proprietor. If not for a series of cash loans, bond purchases and guarantees from state-controlled banks – Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), and Transcreditbank – he would be bankrupt.

That is, Mechel, with a bottom-line loss last year of $1.7 billion, would be as bankrupt as the Estar group of steelmills, which Zyuzin took over in 2009, when Estar’s proprietor Vadim Varshavsky went bankrupt. Varshavsky was consigned by state officials and the state banks to go belly up for debts of about $3 billion. Zyuzin has been preserved in his place for three times that debt. He has also been permitted to buy Varshavsky’s old assets at a fraction of their value, using tolling schemes which may be considered asset stripping, a form of larceny, outside Russia — if their terms were known. In other words, Varshavsky’s insolvent steelmills appear to be paying Zyuzin to take them over for Mechel.
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INVIDIOUS CHOICE – THE INDIAN, THE CHINAMAN, OR THE WHITE MAN (IGOR ZYUZIN)

By John Helmer, Moscow

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oligarch ownership hasn’t given Russian goldmines a good name, or at least not a stable one. So if you take the 5-year view and judge that the gold price has peaked, while the cost of developing new mines is going up, the grades going down, you don’t need to be an oligarch with a short attention span like Mikhail Prokhorov, to figure out that the prudent investment direction is the exit.

When Prokhorov sold his 37.78% stake in Polyus Gold last month for $3.6 billion, his Onexim holding announced: “in light of …our view of the balance between the company’s achievements and its potential, we made the decision that the time had come for Onexim Group to sell and realize its profit.” On the 5-year view there have value peaks on paper, but ultimately no profit. Prokhorov has also failed to find an international goldminer willing to buy the assets. As Russian dealmaking goes, selling to Suleiman Kerimov, or to his stand-ins, as Prokhorov has announced, is a nothing more than a state bank bailout.
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FANTASY IN WHITE – POLYMETAL DREAMS OF THE MOTHER LODE, AND OLEG KISELEV MAKES A BLAST FROM THE PAST

By John Helmer, Moscow

When precious metal geologists kiss their wives good night, and go to sleep, they dream of pushing upstream from river-borne, alluvial or placer deposits of platinum, to strike the mother lode. In geological theory, this is the El Dorado of the platinum business – a bedrock of high-grade platinum ore, not too far underground, easy and cheap to excavate, in much larger volumes than can be extracted from panning or dredging downstream, where millions of years of erosion have washed the metal in grains or tiny nuggets. Unlike their wives or gold, geologists prefer platinum because its value is relatively stable.

This year, for example, look at the moving line and compare the volatility of the gold price (left chart) compared with platinum’s (right):
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ALEXEI MORDASHOV TAKES HIGH RIVER GOLD BECAUSE THE ODOUR OF MONEY IS SWEETER THAN NORD GOLD SHARES

By John Helmer, Moscow

It has taken Alexei Mordashov (image lower right) three and a half years to persuade shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG) to accept his takeover of the company. That’s the longest foreign defence against a Russian takeover in the oligarch record-book. But when the count was completed on December 11, Mordashov’s victory was still a close-run thing. What has happened is that most of the holdout shareholders opted to take cash for their shares, and abandon the business, rather than accept a swap of their HRG shares for shares of Mordashov’s larger goldmine holding, London-listed Nord Gold.

Mordashov has the company he wanted, but not with a vote of confidence in his or his goldmining future. In the process, not a single Canadian court, Canadian stock market regulator, nor even a Canadian newspaper reporter took the side of the minority shareholders. They have included Sprott Asset Management, one of Canada’s leading independent fund managers; according to its latest performance sheet, its investments in gold and precious metals stocks have been bleeding red for the year to date, the full year, and indeed for the past three years.
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YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE… ALEXEI MORDASHOV’S TAKEOVER OF HIGH RIVER GOLD STOPS SHORT

By John Helmer, Moscow

The deadline for Canadian shareholders to accept or reject Alexei Mordashov’s takeover terms for High River Gold (HRG) is fixed for next Tuesday, November 27. The latest count to be released to the market suggests he will fail because the holdout shareholders are convinced the offer price is too low. The price point isn’t news. The shareholder count may be.

According to Chris Charlwood, one of the coordinators of the HRG minorities, “we have collected confirmations from shareholders with approximately 90.2 million shares (10.73% of total HRG shares and 43% of the minorities rremaining) that they will not tender to Nord Gold’s offer. This includes shares owned in funds managed by Eric Sprott (HRG’s largest minority shareholder). Nord Gold would have needed 90% of minority to tender to the current offer in order to squeeze the rest out. With 43% of the minority indicating they will not tender, this should prevent this from happening on the Nov. 27th expiry date.”
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NOVOLIPETSK DOES SOMETHING NO RUSSIAN STEELMAKER DOES IN RUSSIA – NEGOTIATES COST, JOB CUTS AND CRISIS MEASURES WITH UNIONS

By John Helmer, Moscow

Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine (NLMK), owned by Vladimir Lisin, has done something that no Russian steelmaker is on record as doing in the current downturn for steel production, sales, and profits; nor in the downturns which have preceded – 1991-93, 1998-99 and 2008-09. It is negotiating with steelworkers and their unions before deciding on how to cut costs. There’s a catch — that’s happening in Belgium, not in Russia.

For months there have been public demonstrations in the traditional steelmaking Wallonia (Walloon) region of Belgium, between Liege and La Louviere, 112 kilometres to the southeast. Unions, regional government, political parties of the right and left, and consultancy studies have recommended a variety of options for reviving the steelmills and keeping steelworkers employed in the region; none would cost less than €300 million. There is also sharp local argument over whether the region would be better off in the long run doing without the steelmills.
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IGOR SECHIN DEFEATED BY NORILSK NICKEL – RUSSIAN PLATINUM OUSTED FROM VITAL ASSET

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s more serious than a case of when the cat’s away, the mice will play.

Arguments over Igor Sechin’s appointment to run the country delayed the announcement of Dmitry Medvedev’s government for several weeks in May. Now that Sechin’s at Rosneft in charge of constructing the most powerful energy-producing and trading platform in the world, he hasn’t had the time to supervise the Russian mining and minerals sector, as he used to do during President Putin’s second term and his prime ministry. In allocating Sechin’s time cost-effectively, there’s no comparison between running Rosneft and sorting out the problems of Norilsk Nickel, Rusal, Urals Mining and Metals, and Metalloinvest.
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WHERE DO RUSSIAN ELEPHANTS GO TO DIE? NOT BY CHOICE INTO ROMAN ABRAMOVICH’S BONEYARD

By John Helmer, Moscow

The two 20-year veteran coalminers who have directed Raspadskaya, one of Russia’s leading coking coal producers, have unexpectedly sold out their stake in the company. According to the terms of the deal announced in Moscow yesterday, Evraz, the vertically integrated steel and mining group controlled by Roman Abramovich (left image), will pay Gennady Kosovoy, currently CEO, and Alexander Vagin, board chairman, $202 million in cash, plus an 11.06% share of Evraz’s equity.

Kosovoy is the coalmine boss; Vagin runs political interference at the regional level and protection wherever required. They haven’t enjoyed being the co-control shareholders, with Abramovich, of the publicly listed company. Even less, they haven’t cared for Abramovich’s pressure to pay him dividends from Raspadskaya’s profit — and that was when the mining company was making a profit, and when the two veterans wanted to reinvest the proceeds in the mine itself. Because Raspadskaya was the only half-way independent coal supplier to the steel industry in Russia, its takeover by Evraz significantly reduces competition in the Russian market.
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PATSY’S GOT BALLS — MORDASHOV TO PULL HIS PRICE FOR HIGH RIVER GOLD UPWARD, OR POCKET HIS OFFER ALTOGETHER

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Canadian valuer hired to provide an independent valuation of High River Gold (HRG) for Nord Gold’s takeover offer appears to be recommending a higher price than Alexei Mordashov, owner of Nord Gold and 75% shareholder of HRG, wants to pay, leaving the takeover in limbo.

Paradigm Capital’s research department, headed by Daniel Kim of Toronto, has been working on the valuation since July, when Nord Gold announced a share swap or cash purchase equivalent to C$1.40 per share of HRG. That valued HRG at C$1.18 billion. To consolidate the minority shareholders, and absorb HRG entirely into Nord Gold – with the aim of lifting the latter’s struggling share price and worsening financial performance– Mordashov with 75% of the HRG shares in hand needs to have his bid accepted by another 15%. If he can reach or cross the 90% stake threshold, under Canadian takeover rules the remaining shareholders can be squeezed out by a mandatory buyout. As told in this sequence, the opposition to Mordashov has been successful so far in denying him the prize.
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NORD GOLD HIDES IN PLAIN SIGHT FROM HIGH RIVER GOLD

By John Helmer, Moscow

It takes a Russian to know how to build a Potemkin village, and hide behind it. It takes Alexei Mordashov to answer questions through a telephone number that rings in Amsterdam only to be relayed to a Moscow office, where the person in charge hangs up the receiver. That’s a false front that doesn’t deserve Count Potemkin’s name tag.

Mordashov is the owner of Nord Gold, the struggling goldminer spun out of the Severstal steel group. Since July 18, Nord Gold has been tabling an offer to buy out the minority shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG), the richest of the assets in the Nord Gold portfolio. Tabling isn’t quite what has happened. That’s because there won’t be an official offer to buy the remaining HRG shares until a purportedly independent valuation of HRG is completed and the share price offer put into a circular. That is a paper which Mordashov is promising to despatch to the hold-out HRG shareholders sometime soon. For the July 18 proposal, and the reaction of the market, read this.
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MECHEL’S IGOR ZYUZIN DUMPS TO AVOID CRASH

By John Helmer, Moscow

The co-founder of the Mechel steelmaking and coal-mining group, Vladimir Iorikh, always said the over-confidence of partner Igor Zyuzin (parachutist) would get the company into trouble as big as this. So, rather than go down in flames himself when the crash he expected would come, Iorikh sold out to Zyuzin in January 2007, taking $1.5 billion to Switzerland and setting up on his own.

Zyuzin congratulated himself on out-smarting Iorikh when Mechel’s value in the market grew to a peak of $21 billion in May 2008. Zyuzin’s stake of about 67% was then worth $14 billion. Today, with Mechel worth just about one-tenth of that at $2.9 billion, Zyuzin’s stake is worth $1.9 billion; maybe less, because in July Zyuzin started selling shares – a 1.93% bloc was let go to an unidentified buyer at an unreported price. If things continue to get worse for Mechel, Zyuzin’s net worth will be less than his old partner’s. If Iorikh was as prudent as he accused Zyuzin of not being, it’s probable that he vaulted over Zyuzin in the wealth brackets some time ago.
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RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”

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IF IT SMELLS ALLURING, IT’S RUSSIAN – IN WARTIME L’ORÉAL (FRANCE) AND ESTÉE LAUDER (US) MAKE A BAD SMELL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.

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THE WAR AGAINST FOOD – WHO IS TO BLAME



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  

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EXILE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

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IN THE FOG OF WAR THERE’S THE GUTERRES CERTAINTY AND THE CADIEU CERTAINTY – GORILLA RADIO SEES THROUGH THE COVER-UP



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.

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DID UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES COMMIT A WAR CRIME AT AZOVSTAL?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.

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THE LAST DITCH IS POLAND – RUSSIA’S PHASE-3 PLAN FOR WESTERN UKRAINE



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.

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THE MATLIN PLOT, THE BROWDER PLOT AND THE NEW YORK TIMES PLOT



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*
  @bears_with

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.

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YELLOW COAL, THE FUEL MADE OUT OF RACE HATRED — MAY DAY MESSAGE FROM SIGIZMUND KRZHIZHANOVSKY, 1939



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.

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IS CAESARISM THE PROBLEM, THE SOLUTION, A FANCY DRESS COSTUME, OR A PROPAGANDA CARTOON?



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.

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