DUTCH TREAT – DERK SAUER MAKES A MOSCOW COMEBACK FOR THE SAME OLD GANG

By John Helmer, Moscow

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…)

THE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, ACCORDING TO REFORM FINANCIER VLADIMIR ASHURKOV

By John Helmer, Moscow

Vladimir Ashurkov was advertising his principles last week in the Moscow Times. He is currently executive director of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, one of the organs of the political opposition led by Alexei Navalny. Ashurkov is described by the newspaper as the principal fund-raiser for Navalny, and himself a candidate for election to the coordination council of the opposition movements.

He has identified his last employer from 2006 to 2012 as Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group. Before that, between 2004 and 2006, Ashurkov confirms he was vice president for strategic development of Sergei Generalov’s holding, Industrial Investors. Those were the years when one of Generalov’s strategic developments was a deal to acquire the Georgian mining company called Madneuli; borrow heavily from Deutsche Bank against its future gold production; and spend the money acquiring goldmining companies in Armenia and elsewhere in the name of GeoProMining, a Caribbean island-registered entity.
(more…)

MOSCOW TIMES AWARDS ITSELF THE BO PEEP PRIZE

By John Helmer, Moscow

Journalists arranging tuxedo events to give themselves prizes are even sillier than Hollywood actors at the Oscar ceremony. There are also no comedians to tell jokes to neutralize the gastroenteric reflex that is always brought on in audiences by a surfeit of brown-nosing. For the British children in the audience who don’t know what that term means, the Private Eye term is the more onomatopoetic — arslikhan.

Meg Bortin, the second editor of the Moscow Times and one of the shortest termers, has been rolled out for today’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Times. The true anniversary actually fell in March, eight months ago. But if that was the point from which to hang the anniversary celebration, Bortin couldn’t call herself the “founding editor in chief”.
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THE LADY DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH, METHINKS*

In its May 23 edition, the Moscow Times has published the following item, apparently a notice from the press office of United Company Rusal, directed by Vera Kurochkina.

The new statement refers to Russian media reports of six months ago, including a Moscow Times publication which appeared on November 29, entitled “Foreign Journalist Sees RusAl Role in His Visa Trouble”.
(more…)

KHASBULATOV POSTPONES PEOPLE’S CONGRESS MEETING

The Congress of People’s Deputies, Russia’s super-parliament, will not be called into session in October, according to officials in the office of the Speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov.

The decision by Khasbulatov will allow President Yeltsin several weeks’ additional time before the expected confrontation with parliament over the president’s powers to implement his highly unpopular economic policy.

With the latest Moscow opinion polls showing the President’s rating almost static between July and August at the year’s low of 30 to 33 percent, Khasbulatov and his advisors are calculating that time is running out for Yeltsin’s economic policy.

Khasbulatov’s advisors told the Moscow Times that in a recent by-election to fill a parliamentary seat in the Dmitrovskiy constituency just outside Moscow, voters demonstrated even greater vulnerability for Yeltsin’s supporters in parliament.

According to poll results reported to Khasbulatov, only 21 percent of those eligible to vote cast ballots, although eleven candidates representing the main Russian parties had tried to make the campaign a test of popular feeling. The candidates who placed first and second are both middle-aged, former Communist Party officials with lengthy records of administration in the local area. They trounced supporters of the President’s reform programme. (more…)

RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT ANGRY AT IMF AGREEMENT

Senior members of the Russian parliament and their staff advisors have not seen the text of the Russian agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), although the government has made commitments which require parliamentary approval.

Interviews with deputies and officials of the Supreme Soviet this week also indicate that some of the provisions of IMF agreement may have infringed on parliament’s authority.

The Moscow Times has been told that although the agreement texts were despatched to the IMF between July 5 and July 15, they were not disclosed to the Speaker of the Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, the secretariat of the presidium, which
is the executive agency of parliament, or the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet’s Committee on Budget, Planning, Taxation and
Prices, Aleksandr Pochinok.

Parliament was in session during that period. It is now in summer recess, and will resume again in a fortnight. (more…)

YELTSIN ANNIVERSARY NOT FOR CELEBRATION

By John Helmer in Moscow

Today marks the anniversary of Boris Yeltsin’s election as President of Russia.

It is no moment for celebration.

The government which he led successfully over the attempted putsch of last August and through the disintegration of the Soviet Union now lacks credible authority in the Russian federation and among its people.

There is no agreement on a constitution to hold the federation together, or to divide the power granted by Russian votes for
president and parliament.
(more…)

RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS US PATTERN, DESPITE YELTSIN OBSTACLES

News Analysis

By John Helmer in Moscow

In lengthy voting and debate on Saturday and this week, the Russian Congress of Peoples’ Deputies showed that a majority wants to develop in the direction of the American Congressional pattern, sharing power with President Yeltsin in a system of checks and balances.

The Congress votes also showed that the largest obstacle in the way is not the communists, whose strength has dropped significantly, but Mr Yeltsin himself and those of his advisors who demand more power for the executive branch of government.

The latest series of votes demonstrates that despite their resistance to this, a majority of deputies is in a mood to strike a working compromise with Mr Yeltsin. The uncompromising tactics of the so-called “left-right” bloc command between 250 and 350 votes — roughly a third of the Congress, but not enough to win a major policy division.
(more…)

WATCH OUT RUSSIA, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

By John Helmer in Moscow

The soft-spoken general is wearing civilian clothes — a trim double-breasted suit, with a paisley tie discreetly knotted at
a pressed white collar.

It is not the uniform of the old nomenklatura, nor of the new entrepreneur.

The silver flecks in his thick hair convey photogenic authority. The high cheek-bones, grey-green eyes and chiselled jaw signal for the television audience an unmistakable Slav.
(more…)

RUSSIA TO ASK ARAB SHEIKHS TO PAY FOR REALIGNMENT

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Russian Foreign Minister, Mr Andrei Kozyrev, will visit six Arab states of the Persian Gulf next month, in a move to obtain
economic support in return for Russia’s political re-alignment in the Middle East.

Mr Kozyrev will substitute for Mr Pyotr Aven, the Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, whose visit to the region had been planned earlier to return the Moscow visit in February of the Kuwait Minister of Finance, Mr Nasser Al-Roudan.

Russian strategy in the Middle East is undergoing rapid change, forced in part by Moscow’s re-orientation towards the West, including Israel, and in part by the practical difficulty of sustaining the cost of military alliances with Syria, Libya, and until its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, with Iraq.
(more…)

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, WESTERN PRESS MAKE A LAW THAT NEVER WAS

Analysis

By John Helmer in Moscow

In the final hours of the Congress of Peoples Deputies last week, President Yeltsin signed a letter urging Congress to grant him
unusual new powers to override parliamentary votes.

Attached to the letter was the President’s legislative proposal, a draft law entitled “On the Government of the Russian Federation”.

The document was so hastily drafted, noone in the Kremlin caught a large typographical mistake or careless language in some clauses that make poor sense.
(more…)

RUSSIAN REFORM MEANS RUN & HIDE

By John Helmer in Moscow

A month ago, the Russian Market Research Company released results of an unusual nationwide survey of householders, suggesting Russians are better off than they admit, and spend much more money than their official income. This has bolstered government claims that the economy has begun to turn around, and that prosperity — real already for some — is just around the corner for most.

The central piece of evidence is what the panel of almost 4,000 people, from 2,000 households, admitted about their income and spending. Two groups of the population were identified as wealthy. One, well-educated, middle-aged professionals, amounted to 4% of the sample. The second group, much younger and more entrepreneurial, were almost 6%. Together, they claim to be
earning at least $400 a month in salary, not to mention business-paid perks, like cars, dachas and foreign travel.
(more…)

NEMTSOV FIGHTS REALITY, AND LOSES

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Peter Pan of Russian reform, Boris Nemtsov, went to battle this week with Captain Hook at the Railways Ministry. Reality won. Nemtsov proved petulance is not political magic.

The railways are as natural a monopoly as Captain Hook was a blackguard. They are also, as the new Railways Minister, Nikolai Aksenenko, told Nemtsov “more easily manageable.”

Nemtsov didn’t quibble with that. In a speech to more than 70 railway bosses from across Russia, the novice at the prime ministry lectured on the need for the rail monopoly to protect the government by managing itself better. What Nemtsov meant by that, he said, was “two tasks. The first is to decrease freight tariffs. The second is to pay salaries and taxes.”
(more…)

RUSSIAN VICE PRESIDENT DEFENDS YELTSIN AGAINST CRITICS

By John Helmer in Moscow

The Vice President of Russia, Mr Alexander Rutskoi, has defended the proposed constitution drawn up by the Constitutional Commission, and dismissed criticism that his differences with President Boris Yeltsin amount to a call for replacing the present government.

Mr Rutskoi, who was elected with Mr Yeltsin in Russia’s first presidential election last June, is also the leader of the largest
of the political parties, the Peoples Party of Free Russia (PPFR).

The Vice President set out his political principles and tactics in an interview ahead of the Congress of Peoples Deputies, the Russian super-parliament. The Congress meets next Monday to consider a new constitution and to vote on several moves to replace Mr Yeltsin’s cabinet.
(more…)

RUSSIAN TRADE STRATEGY — GO EAST YOUNG MAN, AND WATCH FOR TIGERS

By John Helmer in Moscow

A new Russian trade strategy, announced this week in Tokyo, gives priority to the growth economies of Asia and the Pacific.

The Tokyo presentation by First Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Dr Sergei Glazyev, follows the visit to Beijing earlier this month of the Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Mr Pyotr Aven. Dr Glazyev’s trip to Tokyo preceded by a few days the arrival of the Foreign Minister, Mr Andrei Kozyrev, who has already this week called on Beijing and Seoul.

The flurry of Russian activity in East Asia is the first product of the debate inside the Russian policy establishment over whether
to tilt the “new thinking” in the direction of Russia’s traditional enemies and large creditors in the West; or whether to target the “tiger economies” of Asia as the medium-term alternative to frozen relations with Japan.
(more…)

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

How little the Germans have changed.

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

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

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



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

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

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

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

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

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

(more…)

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

(more…)
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