BBC AND THE TIMES OBJECT TO SECRECY OF NOVICHOK PUBLIC INQUIRY

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The British government’s scheme of secrecy surrounding the public inquiry into the alleged Novichok attacks against Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Dawn Sturgess in 2018 has been opposed by the BBC and the London Times. 

“A requirement for confidentiality undertakings”, a BBC lawyer wrote to the inquiry chairman, Lord Anthony Hughes, in a document released by Hughes’ spokesman last Friday, “is itself an impediment to transparency… as well as general, healthy discourse among legal and editorial colleagues.” David Attfield is the head of the BBC’s programme legal advice department which signed the document.   But the name on the signature line has been blacked out. “The media should be trusted to act responsibly,” the BBC told Hughes.  

In a letter dated July 1, Brid Jordan, deputy head of the legal department of Times Newspapers Ltd. (TNL), told the Hughes Inquiry her media group “opposes the blanket anonymization of categories of individuals. TNL is particularly concerned that the restrictions are requested to be indefinite with no periodic review of necessity or appropriateness. The restrictions sought have the potential to stifle reporting of a significant inquiry and, as proposed, represent a disproportionate restriction on the fundamental principle of open justice.”

At the close of the letter, Jordan’s name has been kept secret by the Inquiry; the evidence of this is not quite erased.   

The state media corporation and the London press group owned by Rupert Murdoch have led the British government’s efforts to accuse the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, and President Vladimir Putin personally, of launching the Novichok chemical warfare weapon against British targets.

The BBC’s dramatized retelling of the Russian cause of Sturgess’s death, titled “The Salisbury Poisonings” was broadcast in June 2020.  This followed fabrication of evidence in interviews and a book released by a BBC correspondent and MI6 informant, Mark Urban.  

The BBC and the Murdoch media have refused to interview the Skripals for their account of what allegedly happened to them in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. They have also failed to report or investigate the announcement, which Dawn Sturgess’s family made public through their lawyer on July 15, that they suspect British officials, prosecutors,  and police of fabricating the Novichok story.

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SEVEN SKRIPAL SECRETS THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE DIDN’T WANT TO LET OUT



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It’s unlikely that when they were alive, Sergei Skripal (lead image, left) and his daughter Yulia Skripal (right) read Enid Blyton.

The paratroop and military intelligence training which Sergei Skripal received prepared him for Afghanistan, Malta, and Spain.  By the time he reached England in 2010, he wasn’t undercover, and didn’t need to pretend to having read the Blyton books as a boy. By then too Blyton had been dead for more than forty years, and her books condemned in fashionable English circles as sexist, racist, paedophilic, and sadistic; although Blyton’s prejudice against foreigners has returned to fashion recently. Her taste for playing tennis in the nude did not suit the Skripals or the retired policemen neighbours in their Salisbury block.     

Blyton’s books weren’t translated and published in Russian until after Boris Yeltsin became president. The first of her Secret Seven series didn’t appear in Russian until 2015.  By then Sergei was 64 years of age; Yulia was 31.  

In March of this year, the first of the seven Skripal secrets began to slip into the public prints when Adam Chapman (lead image, centre), a lawyer who was on sabbatical from his London office at the time, was appointed by the British government to represent the two Skripals as their legal representative. The official announcement of his appointment appeared on April 4.   For the first time since March 4, 2018, when the front door-handle of their cottage was attacked, and Skripal and his daughter collapsed in the middle of Salisbury town four hours later, it appeared they had recovered their voice and their freewill.

Except that Chapman refuses to speak for the Skripals; to acknowledge that he has been instructed by them to be their lawyer and that he has seen for himself that they are alive.

On July 15, in Chapman’s first public appearance in a London courtroom on behalf of the Skripals, he was asked a question by Lord Anthony Hughes, the judge chairing the public inquiry into the alleged Novichok attacks by Skripal’s former military service. Did he have anything to say to the court for Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Chapman was asked. “Nothing”, Chapman replied, shrugging his head. That was the second of the seven Skripal secrets to slip out.

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THE NOVICHOK PUBLIC HEARING – SECRET SEQUEL



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On Friday, July 15, in London, a session took place of the British government’s public inquiry into the story of the Novichok attacks of 2018. This followed the first public session on March 25 and a closed-door session on April 4.

However, the sound and video recording system failed. The presiding chairman, former judge Lord Anthony Hughes, had no microphone and was both inaudible and invisible to the camera for more than two hours of the proceedings. Microphones at the tables of the lawyers in the courtroom, including those of the inquiry itself, the government, and the police, did not work.  A single microphone had to be moved by a court clerk between speakers, but this failed to catch everything that was said. The stenographer contracted to transcribe the session was not in the courtroom; dependent on the audio and video feed, she was unable to transcribe what was said.

A spokesman for Hughes told the press “the stenographer was listening remotely and this has resulted in a delay with the transcript. I hope it will be published early next week.” Following the failure of the transcript to appear this week, the spokesman conceded “we are hoping to publish the transcript as soon as possible.” She was requested to say when the transcript and the texts of the  presentations the lawyers had prepared in advance would appear. She replied: “we are aiming to publish the transcript and submissions together as soon as possible.” 

The result is that the two most important revelations in what was said in court have not been recorded officially. They have also not been reported by the handful of media reporters who listed themselves at the hearing; the  BBC  and Salisbury Journal  reports omitted them. The two dramatic disclosures were however recorded by hand, by me.

In the first, Michael Mansfield QC, said that   a “jigsaw of intelligence” had been the evidence  when British government officials announced the Novichok story and then charged Russian agents with the Novichok attacks. If the evidence had been good enough for public statements by Prime Minister Theresa May,  her Cabinet Secretary and security advisor Sir Mark Sedwill,  and then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, then what explained the delay in releasing the evidence to his clients, the family and partner of Dawn Sturgess, the lawyer asked.  “Unless it’s an empty barrel”, Mansfield added.

In the second disclosure, Georgina Wolfe, junior counsel for the Home Office, was speaking in court for the government, including the prime ministry and the two security services, MI6 and MI5. She explained there was an ongoing threat to British lives of Russian attack. Her evidence for this, she added, included “the Danish investigation of the MH17 attack”. Wolfe was referring to the Dutch investigation and the ongoing court trial in The Netherlands of the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over the Ukraine in July 2014.  

The truth of what caused the death of Dawn Sturgess and of the Novichok story is not what Mansfield’s and Wolfe’s statements in court last Friday meant. Mansfield wants a multi-million pound payment for his clients and himself, and is prepared to accuse the government of lying. Wolfe wants the government to get away with the lying under cover of secrecy, backed by something misbegotten in the kingdom of Denmark.

Without an official record of what was said, the lawyers and the judge can pretend Mansfield’s and Wolfe’s revelations didn’t happen.  

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NOVICHOK INVESTIGATION COLLAPSES IN LONDON COURT — ADAM CHAPMAN, LAWYER APPOINTED TO REPRESENT SERGEI & YULIA SKRIPAL, DOESN’T



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The public inquiry by Lord Anthony Hughes into the British government’s narrative of Russian chemical warfare in the UK and the alleged Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess on July 8, 2018, collapsed into secrecy, mishap, and farce in a London courtroom on Friday.

The sound system failed, leaving only one microphone to be moved from one speaker to another. The judge was invisible off camera and inaudible for the entire proceeding. A court official told the press “I personally apologies [sic] for the ongoing technical issues…The Cloud video platform equipment was tested beforehand and all was thought to be well. However there have been ongoing issues with equipment today.”

A government lawyer acknowledged that the “preliminary” security check of documents in the case is requiring reviews and approvals by five unnamed government agencies, and taking five months before the documents can be released to Hughes and to the lawyers in the case. Police and intelligence service applications to the judge to keep evidence and witness identities secret will be heard in secret. A closed-door hearing for this was expected to follow the public one on Friday, but the timing of this is a state secret the judge has not revealed.  

Michael Mansfield QC, a lawyer representing the Sturgess family, said in court that four years ago, a “jigsaw of intelligence” was already available when British government officials announced the Novichok story and then charged Russian agents with the Novichok attacks. Mansfield said the delays for secrecy reviews had left the Sturgess family’s “patience [wearing] extremely thin.” He hinted that if the evidence for the Russian Novichok attack had been solid enough for public statements by Prime Minister Theresa May,  her Cabinet Secretary and security advisor Sir Mark Sedwill,  and then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson,  followed by announcement of criminal charges,  the Sturgess family was exasperated by four years of postponement in releasing the evidence to the public inquiry.

“Unless it’s an empty barrel”, Mansfield added. This is the first suggestion the Sturgess family has made publicly that they suspect government officials may have been lying.

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SHORTING BRITISH, AMERICAN AND BALTIC INTELLIGENCE – GOING LONG ON VLADIMIR PUTIN



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Philip Short, a journalist from the BBC, has published a new book which claims to be a biography of Vladimir Putin. It isn’t.

What it is instead is a biography of one hundred and twenty-three westerners — what they claim to know about Russia’s leader  and what for commercial motive, reason of state, or vanity they have told Short in interviews he conducted for his book. They include spies he names without their cover – John Scarlett, Richard Dearlove, Richard Bridge,  Kate Horner, Martin Nicholson, and Pablo Miller from the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6); Hans-Georg Wieck and August Hanning of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND); Jean-Francois Clair, Raymond Nart,  and Yves Bonnet  of the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST); Seppo Tiitinen of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO); Mark Kelton, Michael Morell, Peter Clement, Michael Sulick, Michael Morgan, Paul Kolbe, and William Green of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Juri Pihl, head of the Estonian Internal Security Service, and Eerik-Niiles Kross, chief of Estonian intelligence; and several dozen other ambassadors, consuls, advisers, headquarters staff, journalists, and think-tankers.

Not one of the spies was operational in Moscow for the past twenty-one years of Putin’s terms in office.

There is a flash of originality in this book. Not a single source on which Catherine Belton’s book  on Putin relies has been interviewed by Short; in his references to Belton’s claims Short reports they “appear to be untrue”. He reaches the same conclusion about two other books about Putin, Karen Dawisha’s   and Masha Gessen’s.    “Neither book pretends to be a balanced account”, Short says.  Dawisha’s book “is marred by numerous errors of fact”. “All three”, Short warns, “set out the case for the prosecution, and like all prosecutors, the authors select their evidence accordingly.” 

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IS SERGEI SKRIPAL ALIVE? IS YULIA SKRIPAL IN PRISON? WHO ENGAGED A LAWYER TO REPRESENT THEM AND WHAT DOES THE JUDGE KNOW?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The allegation that the Russian leadership in Moscow ordered its soldiers to take a lethal nerve agent called Novichok to England and kill Sergei Skripal began on March 4, 2018, in the offices of the British prime ministry and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).  

Skripal himself and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, are the only direct witnesses of the alleged crime, of who committed it, what weapon was used, and what happened. Their names appear on the indictments and arrest warrants of the Crown Prosecution Service, and in statements to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister accusing Russian military intelligence agency officers of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, use and possession of Novichok, and causing grievous bodily harm.  

For four years the Skripals have not been allowed by the British authorities to testify freely and in public. Sergei Skripal has not been heard or seen by his family members on a telephone for almost three years. Yulia Skripal has not been heard or seen on the telephone for a year and a half. Sergei Skripal may be dead; both of them may be in prison.

Can they, did they,  of their own free will recently communicate directly with a London lawyer named Adam Chapman (lead image, right), and request him to represent them in the official public inquiry, an investigation of the Novichok allegations opened last month by Lord Anthony Hughes, a retired judge (2nd from left)?

Are Chapman and Hughes the first public witnesses in four years that the Skripals are alive, well, free, and able to communicate without control or coercion?

Through his principal legal advisor Martin Smith (3rd left), Hughes was asked to say what he knows. His answers were given late yesterday. Judge what these answers mean, if anything.

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BRITISH GOVERNMENT ENGAGES SECRET LAWYER TO REPRESENT SERGEI SKRIPAL AND YULIA SKRIPAL IN PUBLIC INQUIRY – THE SECRET IS THAT THE SKRIPALS DON’T KNOW, CAN’T SAY

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The public inquiry opened in London on March 17 by Lord Anthony Hughes to investigate  allegations of the Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess in July 2018 will employ a secret lawyer to make sure Sergei and Yulia Skripal will not appear; will not answer questions in public; and will not reveal what they know to challenge the British government’s version of the Novichok plot perpetrated by Russian assassins acting on Kremlin orders.

Adam Chapman was appointed last week by Hughes, who is heading the public inquiry which has replaced the inquest into the death of Sturgess, allegedly from Novichok poisoning. The official document naming Chapman and his London law firm Kingsley Napley was published on April 4.   

Chapman  is currently absent from his office on sabbatical leave;  he and two of his assistants, Jo Dorling and Katie Baker, do not respond to emails. Chapman, the assistants, and the spokesman for the Kingsley Napley firm, Michael Rosen, refuse to confirm that Chapman has met with the Skripals or communicated with them in any fashion. The lawyers have not verified that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal or both of them want Chapman as their representative in the Hughes investigation. The first public witnesses aren’t expected to testify in front of Hughes  until 2023.  

The government’s payment to Chapman to act for the Skripals makes it appear they are alive and not in prison. Chapman’s secretiveness indicates otherwise. Speaking this week for Chapman and Kingsley Napley, Rosen said: “we will not be commenting on this matter.”

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FOUR YEARS LATER: THE SKRIPAL CASE IS WEIRDER THAN EVER

By Matt Ehret, Montreal
https://twitter.com/ehret_matthew

While navigating through today’s propaganda-heavy world of misinformation, spin and outright creative writing which appears to have replaced conventional journalism, it is most important that two qualities are active in the mind of any truth-seeker. The first quality is the adherence to a strong top down perspective, both historic and global. This is vital in order to guide us as a sort of compass or North Star used by sailors navigating across the ocean. The second quality is a strong power of logic, memory and discernment of wheat vs. chaff to process the mountains of data that slap us in the face from all directions like sand in a desert storm.

As the fourth anniversary of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal has arrived and as accusations of biolabs, and chemical warfare are again on people’s minds with Victoria Nuland’s recent admission of US “bioresearch facilities” spread across Ukraine, it is a useful time to take these qualities and revisit this bizarre moment of modern history which took place on a park bench in Salisbury UK. This fraud played a major role in destroying Russian relations with the west which drove the world into the currently disastrous cataclysm now unfolding.

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SERGEI & YULIA SKRIPAL – LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE APPOINTED IN LONDON IN NEW BRITISH GOVERNMENT DECEPTION OPERATION

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, left), the chairman of the newly appointed inquiry into  allegations of Novichok plots and death in England in 2018, revealed on Friday that a British lawyer has been engaged to represent Sergei (centre) and Yulia Skripal (right) in the investigation he is conducting. This may mean they are alive.  It does not mean the Skripals will be allowed to appear and to answer questions freely in public.

Sergei Skripal has not been seen in public since the day of the alleged Novichok attack, March 4, 2018. He has not been heard on the telephone by family members since June 26, 2019.   Yulia Skripal was last seen in a British and US directed interview at a US bomber base  in May 2018;    her last telephone call was heard on November 20, 2020.   

Hughes’s staff and spokesman refuse to identify the Skripals’ lawyer by name.

At the London court session on March 25, Hughes was told by the counsel to the proceeding that earlier this month a letter had been received “from legal representatives of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, representing their designation as core participants in the inquiry. They had not sought interested person status in the inquest. In any event, since the terms of reference for this inquiry expressly require you to investigate the events surrounding their poisoning, we submit that their significant interest in the matters to which the inquiry relates is self evident and, accordingly, we support the that matter of core participant status, but that is all I was proposing to say about that issue.”

Hughes then read the proposed list of core participants, including the Skripals. “I designate core participant to all those listed in paragraph 14 of your written submissions and outlined to me orally just now,” he said.

An hour later Martin Smith, the solicitor to the inquiry, was asked to name the legal representative of the Skripals; he refused. Hughes, he said, “will need to designate the lawyer concerned as the Core Participants’ recognised legal representative following this hearing. When he has done so, the Inquiry will publish this information.”

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THE NEWCOMER & THE NOVICHOK – NEW ENGLISH JUDGE FOUND TO INVESTIGATE THE CAUSE OF DAWN STURGESS’S DEATH AFTER THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY DECIDED

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A new judge has been appointed out of retirement by the British Government to run a public inquiry into the cause of death of Dawn Sturgess in July 2018.  He is Anthony Hughes, Lord Hughes of Ombersley, 73, who retired as a judge of the Supreme Court, the highest of the British courts, in 2018. A specialist in criminal law, he was a Court of Appeal judge between 2006 and 2013, and a High Court judge from 1997 to 2003.

The Hughes appointment was announced in the House of Commons on Thursday.  

The cause of Sturgess’s death was declared by British government officials before the medical evidence and witnesses had been examined and tested in court and in public. The government has published its conclusion on the website of the Sturgess inquest. “Dawn Sturgess was pronounced dead at Salisbury District Hospital on 8 July 2018. The post mortem indicated the cause of her death was Novichok poisoning.”  

This allegation has been part of the government’s narrative that the Russian-made nerve agent Novichok was brought to London, and then to Salisbury, by two Russian soldier assassins as part of a plot ordered by the Kremlin to kill double agent, Sergei Skripal. The attack on him on March 4, 2018, failed.

Skripal, as well as his daughter Yulia Skripal, survived, although not to tell the tale.

For four years now they have been held incommunicado by the British secret services; they may be imprisoned; they may be dead.  They have been excluded from giving any evidence in court on what happened to them. They have been prevented from contacting their family in Russia, and speaking in public and to the press.

Hughes’s appointment this week follows the controversial and unexplained replacements of two coroners investigating the chain of Novichok allegations leading to Sturgess’s death. Hughes himself was not picked for the post for several months

With an unusually modest public career record and no media reporting of his judgements over his  21-year career on the bench, Hughes appears to be about as obscure a figure as the government could have found.

However, the archive of his Court of Appeal judgements reveals that Hughes is a stickler for the criminal law rules on the inadmissibility of tainted and hearsay evidence,  and on rejecting faulty directions by judges to juries before their verdicts.  Whether Hughes has been selected for the Novichok job  because officials believe he can be counted on to stick to the official narrative, or whether his record for quashing unsafe convictions will prevail this time round is about to be tested.

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NOVICHOK CLAIMS NEW BRITISH VICTIM – CORONER HALLETT RESIGNS ABRUPTLY; GOVERNMENT CAN’T FIND REPLACEMENT

by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Baroness Heather Hallett (lead image, left), the second British state coroner responsible for investigating the cause of Dawn Sturgess’s death on July 8, 2018, revealed in a London court on Friday that she has resigned after less than a year in the coroner’s post.

Sturgess died in Salisbury District Hospital four months after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were allegedly attacked by Russian military agents carrying the nerve agent Novichok; the Skripals recovered but have subsequently been held incommunicado.  

Hallett’s appointment was announced in March 2021, after the Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley was removed; he had lasted thirty-three months in charge. Hallett has already announced on the inquest website her conclusion before hearing the evidence. “The post mortem indicated the cause of her death was Novichok poisoning,” the website declares on its home page.    In fact and in British law, the post-mortem evidence has not done this.

Ridley was replaced by Hallett when he refused to allow testimony and evidence, and refused to rule that the cause of Sturgess’s death had come from Russia in the form of an assassination plot to poison Sergei Skripal, the Russian double or triple agent. Ridley also refused to release  the medical and pathological evidence; and concealed the cremation certificate he had himself signed on the cause of Sturgess’s death.

In a prepared script Hallett took into court and read out on February 25, she said “in late December last year, I accepted a request made by the Prime Minister to become the chair of the Covid Inquiry.  Because of the demands of that role, it was agreed that another judge would be appointed to chair the Sturgess Inquiry.”

The timing is inaccurate. Hallett’s appointment was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement to parliament on December 15.    The negotiations for Hallett’s new post began days, possibly weeks before. No agreement was reached then, nor publicly announced, for Hallett to resign from the Sturgess proceeding, and for another judge to be appointed in her place. That came later.

By resigning, by concealing this for two months, and by falsifying her circumstances in court, Hallett appears to have been unwilling to take personal responsibility for directing her investigation to reach the outcome the British government requires. That is the conviction of the Russian military command, the Kremlin, and President Vladimir Putin himself for making the Novichok; for ordering a group of soldiers to use it in Salisbury in March 2018; and for leaving behind the bottle of Novichok which Sturgess allegedly used to perfume herself, with fatal effect.

In the 35-minute hearing Hallett chaired on Friday, the retired Court of Appeal judge also revealed that after more than two months the British Government has been unable to name another judge willing to replace Hallett and do what she was told to do. That’s to say, no judge has agreed to take the job, yet.

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THE DONKEY TURD BOMB AND THE US EMPIRE IN EUROPE – HOW IT BEGAN, HOW IT IS ENDING

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

During the US Army invasion of Morocco and Algeria in 1943, enroute to the invasion of Italy, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), as the CIA was called then, came up with the donkey turd bomb for destroying the enemy. Since 2014, the CIA has come up with the modern equivalent – it’s called the Ukrainian bomb.  The first was designed to kill Germans. The second is designed to kill Russians. Both of them,   donkey turds and Ukrainians, are failing to hit their mark.

The donkey turd was the name and brainchild of a Harvard professor called Carleton Coon. In designing an American version of an improvised explosive device, Coon said that because  donkey turds were more common on the ground in Morocco than stones, bombs would be more effectively disguised to look like donkey turds.

The US didn’t fight any Germans in Morocco or Algeria. The US invasion promised the Arabs their national sovereignty and independence — — President Franklin Roosevelt was explicit on the point — but that was a calculated deception. The territories were returned to the French. After the US invasions of Italy, then France, the locals were again promised their national sovereignty and independence, but that too was an American deception. The territories were returned to those who accepted the terms of US occupation. They continue in their capitulation to this day, but the terms have been modified according to the American principle of US-directed and managed collective security. The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) is the main organisation for implementing this.

The defeated Germans, half of them to start with, retreated back into the territory from which they had come, the western half of Germany that is, between 1946 and 1990. The Soviet Army had defeated the Germans who had invaded the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, and driven them back to the Berlin checkpoint. Until the Soviet terms were modified by Mikhail Gorbachev to accept Soviet withdrawal from eastern Germany, this is the way collective security operated in Europe — two opposing alliance forces confronting each other but deterring an attack from either side.

Gorbachev retreated on the US promise that NATO wouldn’t move forward. It was a promise Gorbachev was a fool to believe. He only had to ask the Moroccans or Algerians whether the Americans keep their promises, and he would have been told they don’t.  He wanted to believe otherwise. His successor Boris Yeltsin was just as ready to believe American deceptions until NATO invaded and bombed Serbia; both Gorbachev and Yeltsin believed they depended on the Americans to keep their power in Moscow.

Vladimir Putin tried to believe the promises until 2014 when the war to advance US occupation to the Russian frontier began in earnest. At that border, there is nowhere but inside Russia for the Russians to retreat to, just as they had when the Germans invaded in 1941. Putin announced there was no retreat in his speech to the Russian officer corps last month.   This marked the end of his accommodations with the advancing NATO forces and US nuclear warheads.  

In the line of this advance, the Russian Foreign Ministry proposed two treaties on the principle of indivisible security in Europe.  This principle means that one state cannot, and promises it will not,  increase its military capacities in such a way as to threaten the security of a neighbouring state in the same geopolitical space.   The treaties have also proposed there will be no more donkey turd bombs – no more Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish and other nuclear-armed missiles within close range of Russia’s capital, military command control centres, and land-based nuclear missile bases.

The principle of indivisible security, aka Russian self-defence, now confronts the principle of collective security, aka NATO forward defence, along a red line which runs from the Baltic Sea southward down the eastern Ukrainian border to the Black Sea, to Romania and the other littoral states, including Turkey. On Thursday the US rejected indivisible security, and thus the two draft treaties.  On Friday, at a 90-minute radio interview in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained why the conflict of the two security principles cannot result in a Russian retreat.*  

This fight is now the last stand for the American empire in Europe which began with the donkey turd bomb 79 years ago.

Lavrov’s speech reveals that from the history of that period, from the destruction of Arab sovereignty, and through the destruction of European sovereignty, and through the near- destruction of Russian sovereignty by Gorbachev and Yeltsin, the Russians have learned a lesson which they cannot now unlearn and from which they cannot retreat. No retreat – that’s the lesson.

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SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL ARE NO MORE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It is now one year and one month since there was a direct contact with Russia proving that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal, or both, are still alive. That was an hour-long telephone call from Yulia Skripal to her cousin Viktoria Skripal on November 21, 2020.  

There has been no direct evidence from Sergei Skripal himself that he is alive since he telephoned his family home on June 26, 2019.  

Viktoria Skripal told a Moscow press interviewer three months ago that because there was no word from either of them following the death in Yaroslavl of Elena Skripal, Sergei’s mother, on January 7 of this year, she believes they may be dead. “We can assume that they are not alive. Because they knew that their grandmother had died — in any case, we were assured that they had been accurately informed. But there were no condolences, no flowers, none of this from them.”

Reporters from the two Moscow dailies, Moskovsky Komsomlets (MK) and Izvestia, who have been closest to Viktoria, confirm the silence. Alexander Klibanov of MK says he knows of no telephone call or other message from the Skripals this year. “There’s no sign of them,” Nikolai Pozdnyakov of Izvestia adds. He also says there is no definitive proof of their death. “They may be necessary for some new ‘Novichok show’ or something of the sort if the British secret services are going to provide such a thing.”

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SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL ARE NO MORE

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

It is now one year and one month since there was a direct contact with Russia proving that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal, or both, are still alive. That was an hour-long telephone call from Yulia Skripal to her cousin Viktoria Skripal on November 21, 2020.  

There has been no direct evidence from Sergei Skripal himself that he is alive since he telephoned his family home on June 26, 2019.  

Viktoria Skripal told a Moscow press interviewer three months ago that because there was no word from either of them following the death in Yaroslavl of Elena Skripal, Sergei’s mother, on January 7 of this year, she believes they may be dead. “We can assume that they are not alive. Because they knew that their grandmother had died — in any case, we were assured that they had been accurately informed. But there were no condolences, no flowers, none of this from them.”

Reporters from the two Moscow dailies, Moskovsky Komsomlets (MK) and Izvestia, who have been closest to Viktoria, confirm the silence. Alexander Klibanov of MK says he knows of no telephone call or other message from the Skripals this year. “There’s no sign of them,” Nikolai Pozdnyakov of Izvestia adds. He also says there is no definitive proof of their death. “They may be necessary for some new ‘Novichok show’ or something of the sort if the British secret services are going to provide such a thing.”

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RUSSIA’S NON-AGGRESSION PACT IS AN OFFER FOR GERMANY TO REALIZE THE US WON’T NEGOTIATE BECAUSE THE BLIN-NEEDLE GANG WILL FIGHT TO THE LAST GERMAN, THEN RUN AWAY

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

How to stop the US provocations aimed at pushing Russia to go to war in the Ukraine, and at claiming credit for deterring Russian from doing so? Impossible – the US cannot be stopped. But Germany, the country most likely to suffer the direct effects of war in the Ukraine, can stop the American deployment of nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory.

Will the war start? Silly question – the war won’t start because it has already started, and has been in active use-of-force mode since February 2014 when the US overthrew the Kiev government of President Victor Yanukovich; attempted to take Russian bases in Crimea; and followed in July of that year with the plot to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and trigger a NATO invasion of the Donbass.

Right now on the Ukraine front, Russia will do nothing new; that’s to say, nothing more than it has already done, and is doing. But if and when Germans agree to the Americans deploying nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory, as they have already done in Romania, Poland,  and the Black Sea, then the Stavka in Moscow  will do something no western intelligence agency, think-tank, propagandist, and least of all the Japanese mouth organ known as the Financial Times will  have anticipated.  

For the time being, the Russian assessment is that the US will not make war against Russia directly because it is divided between the Americans who are reluctant, of whom President Joseph Biden is one;  CIA director William Burns another;  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  two more. Gung-ho by contrast are Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lead image, left) and Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State —  the Blin-Needle* gang who are quite recent Americans; their grandparents were Ukrainians.   The Russian assessment is that their anti-Russian violence is in part the outcome of their relatively recent capture of state position.  For the past three generations, and longer, the Blin-Needle gang has been hating and under-estimating the Russians; they think they have made their successful careers, advancing themselves to the top of the US state, by doing so.

Under-estimating the Russians was a mistake the advancing German army commanders made during the first wave of their invasion eighty years ago. They don’t make the same mistake today.  

The Russian tactic, therefore, is to try publicly differentiating the Blin-Needle gang from Biden, Burns, Austin, and Milley in Washington, and from the new German leadership in Berlin of Olaf Scholz (lead image, right). Their coalition can hold together so long as they can keep their proxies – the Ukrainians, Romanians and Poles – on a short leash. Taken together, or separately, these three national groups present no serious risk of war the Kremlin isn’t confident of managing in the short or medium term.   

The war problem becomes immediate and much more difficult to manage if and when the US moves its own forces with nuclear-capable weapons into firing positions in these front-line states, in the skies above, and on the Black and Baltic Seas.

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THE SKELETON UNDER THE VEIL IS FLAT-FOOTED — BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S NOVICHOK OPERATION MOVES INTO NEW COVERUP STAGE

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

The British Government announced this week that after cancelling   the coroner’s court inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess from alleged Russian Novichok attack, the public inquiry replacing the inquest will not start for more than a year — until February 2023.

Sturgess died in Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018, four months after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were allegedly attacked by Novichok and recovered in the same hospital. The second coroner appointed to investigate, Baroness Heather Hallett, has already ruled officially, and posted on her inquest website, that “the post mortem indicated the cause of her death was Novichok poisoning.”  The medical evidence has not been  disclosed, tested forensically, or cross-examined according to British coroner’s court standards. Those standards have now been replaced by a more secretive proceeding, called a public inquiry,  in which Hallett will play prosecutor, judge, jury, and also censor.

When the public inquiry opens, new papers released in court now reveal, government officials will have designed what they call “a bespoke disclosure strategy” to prevent open cross-examination of witnesses and public analysis of documents, including the ambulance, hospital and post-mortem medical reports. Witnesses and potential whistleblowers, including the three survivors of the alleged Novichok attack – the Skripals and Wiltshire police sergeant Nicholas Bailey – will be excluded as “interested persons” or “core participants” from the ongoing proceeding.  

To preserve their silence, and enforce the silence of others on the Wiltshire county police force and at Salisbury Hospital, special “restriction notices” are being prepared – the court papers disclose — for “a regime of ministerial restriction notices and inquiry restriction orders to allow documents or information to be withheld if it is in the public interest.” Hallett will supervise this secrecy operation to prevent “disclosure or publication of any evidence or documents given, produced or provided to an inquiry.” This gag will “continue in force indefinitely.”  

This week’s court papers also reveal that the official records now under review of the Novichok investigations have “emanated from the Home Office; the Cabinet Office; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Public Health England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Government Office for Science.”   Missing from this list, and thus from the evidence records to be submitted to the public inquiry, are the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the signals intelligence agency GCHQ, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down.

If Russian military agents had attacked with a Novichok nerve agent, according to the official narrative, these were the front-line agencies in charge.

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A NEW RUSSIAGATE COMPENDIUM TURNS OUT TO BE A CAT IN A SAKWA

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

About the Russiagate operation that continues in the US, Richard Sakwa (lead image), a professor at the University of Kent, has gotten one thing right and one thing wrong. The wrong turns out to be the same thing as the right.

Russiagate, he says, defining that as the narrative of Russian interference in US politics in support of Donald Trump, “is one of the most mystifying yet consequential events of our time.” At the same time, Russiagate is a propaganda and deception operation aimed at achieving the political interests of the Democratic Party, their candidates and supporters. “What if Russian actions during the 2016 were minimal and defensive, and there was no grand plot”, Sakwa asks rhetorically, not quite agreeing to answer for himself. “In that case the endless years of the Russiagate scandal, in which every scrap of evidence was portrayed as the ‘smoking gun’ before being  discredited” turn out to be “deception.. defined as the deliberate attempt on the part of leaders to mislead the public about the thrust of official thinking…  Such deceptions are now routine in US politics.”

A deception cannot be either mystifying or consequential if it’s routine. But if the Russiagate operation is routine, then the truth of the  narrative doesn’t stop the repetition, and the falsehood doesn’t matter to the public. Accordingly, the New York Times insists it will continue reporting under its headline of last week: “Why the Discredited Dossier Does Not Undercut the Russia Investigation?”.

The newspaper knows this is a successful money-making formula; indeed, it admits it is making more revenue than ever, and more profit too. “This was our best third-quarter performance in both News and total net subscription additions since the launch of the digital pay model more than a decade ago,” the company’s chief executive announced on November 1;  “and, outside of 2020, our best quarter ever for digital subscription additions.”  With 90% of the New York Times’ subscriptions now digital, the management is convinced that fake news is profitable – that clickbait works.  New York Times reporters won’t retract or apologize for lying when the lies generate bigger dividends for the shareholders, bigger bonuses for management and reporters.

Nothing new about this. What is  new is the behaviour of the alternative  media in marketing their truth of the Russiagate story.  Sakwa has made his book out of balancing what the mainstream media fakers have reported and what the alt-media reporters have to report of the truth. The audience measures, subscription numbers, and balance-sheets of the alt-media are more secret than publicly owned media companies but the marketing tactics are the same – they report the truths which make the mainstream media out to be liars; they repeat this over and over for clickbait effect.

Sakwa hasn’t interviewed a direct source for anything in his book. He appears not to know US government officials or Russian government officials, lawyers or detectives.  He acknowledges his limitation with this excuse — “the fundamental methodological problem [is] that we still do not know what really happened. Much of the relevant material remains classified.” So his book is composed of secondary-source quotes from one side or another – from liars and truth-tellers carefully balanced.

But what’s the point of Sakwa’s balance?  Do lies get less false by balancing them against the truth? Does the truth get weaker or stronger by balancing them with lies? Is the reader to be persuaded arithmetically – by the number of secondary views cited on one side or the other of the veracity line?

The answer, yes or no, to these questions is so obvious, it should be reckoned silly to ask them. But why is Sakwa selling his 555-page book for the premium price of $120; or to be less capitalistic, why should a reader pay? That’s a rhetorical question.

So why read on? To see the paradox Sakwa seems not to have spotted.  

On the one hand, as Sakwa did notice in passing, American voters don’t think the Russiagate story, or in fact anything to do with Russia, is of any importance to the way they have recently voted or will vote at presidential or congressional elections.    On the other hand, as the balance-sheet of the New York Times proves every quarter, the voters who read such newspapers will keep paying to be persuaded or deceived – and then disregard the Russian material when they vote.

Put these two parts of the paradox together, et voila! the conclusion is that Russiagate has proved to be a commercially profitable plot of the media, alt-media no less than mainstream media,  which has satisfied no one and stopped nothing from being repeated over and over.   

That’s also definition of the money shot in pornography. By that standard, Russiagate turns out to be the longest wank in American history (Sakwa’s too).

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NO HANDCUFFS, NO NOVICHOK — EU CONFIRMS THERE ARE NO EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANTS — BRITISH PROSECUTORS CAUGHT LYING

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

British government officials. state prosecutors,  and police have lied repeatedly in announcements over the past three years that they have issued European Arrest Warrants charging three Russian military officers with attempted murder using the Novichok chemical weapon against targets in England.

The three Russians have been named in official British press releases as Alexander Petrov (also known as Alexander Mishkin); Ruslan Boshirov (Anatoly Chepiga); and Denis Sergeyev (Sergei Fedotov – lead image).

This week a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London declared: “I can confirm that European Arrest Warrants have been issued for all three suspects.” Asked for proof, a senior CPS official refused, announcing: “We have nothing further to add.”

In The Hague, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) administers the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) scheme and maintains the database of all EAWs requested by the UK and issued for circulation to the European states. The Eurojust spokesman, Ton van Lierop, was asked this week to confirm details of the EAWs which the British claim to have obtained for the three Russians. Van Lierop replied:  “we have not found any records of the cases mentioned.”

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LE CARRÉ’S LAST MI6 FICTION FAILS – CAN THE REAL MI6 BE FAR BEHIND?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

When David Cornwell (aka John Le Carré) died after a bathroom fall last December, the current chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (aka MI6), Richard Moore, announced by tweet that Cornwell had been “a giant of literature who left his mark on MI6 through his evocative and brilliant novels”.  By mark, Moore didn’t mean blot.

On October 21, the last of the Le Carré novels was published. Called “Silverview”, it starts with a whopping mistake on the first line. It continues making mistakes until the last page where the final words Le Carré wrote were: “and that’s the last secret I’ll keep from you”. The publisher has followed with twelve blank pages. No mistaking them – they are Le Carré’s evocation of the state of mind inside the Service from Moore down.  

Not a secret he can keep from you. Nor a mistake by Le Carré.

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CAN THE ANGLO-AMERICAN WARFIGHTERS SHOOT STRAIGHT – BRITISH COURT TO DECIDE; GORILLA RADIO COUNTS THE CASUALTIES



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Russia bunker-buster information bomb, Catherine Belton’s (lead image) Putin’s People, proved to be a dud at a London ceremony last week.  In its award for the best non-fiction book about Russia for 2020, Pushkin House announced the winner was a retiring Oxford don whose “long and distinguished career” had displayed  “wisdom and insight.”  

Despite lobbying by Belton’s supporters and the publisher, Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins, Belton’s book was relegated.  Pushkin House doesn’t have a prize for fiction about Russia.

Sources familiar with the book prize review believe that HarperCollins’s recent acknowledgement of fabrication and unprofessional conduct by Belton in an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit by Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven,  and ongoing lawsuits from Roman Abramovich and Rosneft in London’s High Court,  cast  doubt on the veracity of the book and of the author. After accepting a donation from Alexei Navalny in 2018, and a sharp fall in investment income last year, Pushkin House’s trustees and donors decided they could not afford to risk fresh political controversy.

The High Court case against Belton and HarperCollins is continuing. If it proceeds to a full hearing of witnesses and evidence, with appeals, London lawyers estimate it will cost all sides about £100 million. The risk of penalty damages and cost indemnity judgement against HarperCollins doubles the potential cost to a figure roughly equal to last year’s accumulated earnings for the publishing company, $303 million (£220 million).   

But last week, in a fresh signal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is concerned at the financial losses British exporters and investors are paying for Whitehall’s information war against the Kremlin, he told President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call “the UK’s current relationship with Russia is not the one we want.”  In the matching Kremlin communiqué, Putin said he and Johnson “expressed the shared opinion that, despite obvious problems, it is necessary to establish cooperation between Moscow and London in a number of areas.”  

The “obvious problem”, both understand, is the faction of British government, military and secret service officials who are running the information war, continuing their engagement in the Skripal and Navalny Novichok operations.  But official support for Belton’s book is waning, sources close to the High Court case believe.  It is likely to weaken further as new evidence and witnesses appear, and as defence lawyers worry that Belton will be unable to withstand cross-examination in court.

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BRITISH PROSECUTORS ARE DELAYING ARREST WARRANTS FOR THE THIRD MAN IN THE NOVICHOK PLOT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A stitch in time saves nine. That’s what police and prosecutors used to say when they were in hot pursuit of criminals. Hot pursuit used to mean no waiting.  

However, the Metropolitan Police (lead image, left) took three years before announcing that Denis Sergeyev (alias Sergei Fedotov), a Russian military intelligence officer (right), is the third suspect in the alleged Novichok attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. That took place on March 4, 2018, allegedly. Six months later, the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally announced their indictments of two men, Alexander Petrov (Alexander Mishkin)  and Ruslan Boshirov (Anatoly Chepiga), on September 5,  2018. The police acted simultaneously with the prosecutors; their timing also coincided with the announcement to parliament by Prime Minister Theresa May.

The police evidence, declared May, “has enabled the independent Crown Prosecution Service to conclude they have a sufficient basis on which to bring charges against these two men for the attack in Salisbury.”  

“We have obtained a European Arrest Warrant and will shortly issue an Interpol red notice,” May added in her speech to the House of Commons.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS, announced at the same time: “A realistic prospect of conviction means the CPS is satisfied on an objective assessment that the evidence can be used in court and that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury hearing the case, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict these two individuals of the charges… We will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of these men as the Russian constitution does not permit extradition of its own nationals… We have, however, obtained a European Arrest Warrant which means that if either man travels to a country where an EAW is valid, they will be arrested and face extradition on these charges for which there is no statute of limitations.”

Hemming said nothing about an Interpol Red Notice; Interpol confirms none was issued for either Russian.   

Fast forward – no, wait, make that slow-motion forward, until September 21, 2021, when Dean Haydon, a deputy assistant commissioner at the Met, announced he is charging Sergeyev (Fedotov) with the same attempted murder by Novichok.  The police had delayed for three years. The CPS for longer. In fact, as the CPS has now officially admitted, it hasn’t charged the third man with anything, yet.

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WHAT IS THE SECRET OF THE NOVICHOK OPERATION – QUESTIONS CORONER HEATHER HALLETT INVITES ASKING, AND ANSWERING

By Liane Theuerkauf, Munich, with introduction & illustrations by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

On September 22, 2021, Dame Heather Hallett, the coroner appointed by the British government to conduct an inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, held a second hearing in court in London.  Sturgess died in Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018, from what Hallett has already announced to be Novichok poisoning from a Russian military attack.

The full transcript of what Hallett said can be read here.  Analysis of the proceedings recommended skepticism towards the veracity and intentions of Hallett and the lawyers testifying in court. Read for more detail.   

Hallett has proposed putting an end to the proceeding under the Coroners and Justice Act of 2009 and the British legal rules which apply to an inquest in a coronial court. These require a jury, in addition to the coroner, when “the death was caused by a notifiable accident, poisoning or disease”. The rules also require that evidence should be presented and witnesses testify in open court for cross-examination by lawyers and for public accountability. Instead of this, Hallett decided last month that a public inquiry will be substituted in which she alone will decide what evidence and witnesses to take in secret, and what secrets to keep out of the public record.

Hallett and the lawyers for the British government and police say this inquiry isn’t likely to open for another two years. In the meantime, the police say they will be assembling the evidence which they believe may be open to public scrutiny, and the evidence which may not. After three years of investigation of the Sturgess case, and also of the cases of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, allegedly poisoned by Novichok fifteen weeks before Sturgess;  and following police announcements of criminal indictments of three Russian military intelligence agents, this new police effort is code-named Operation VERBASCO.

In the meantime, Hallett’s statements and those of Michael Mansfield, Sturgess’s advocate in court, invite a series of questions. Not a single policeman, prosecutor, pathologist, lawyer, member of parliament, or forensic expert in the United Kingdom has thought to ask them, at least not yet and not in public. To anticipate and to assist them, therefore, read Hallett’s statements in italics; the questions follow in bold.

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BREAKING THE MOULD – A LESSON FOR TODAY FROM THE STAFFORDSHIRE POTTER OF TWO CENTURIES AGO

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

When China was an empire in 1792, the emperor Ch’ieng Lung told the British ambassador to take his gifts and bribes back to London, along with this message for the British king: “we have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country’s manufactures. You, O King, ought, looking upwards, to carry out our wishes, and for ever obey our edict, so that we both enjoy the blessings of peace…Do not say you have not been forewarned.”

When Russia was an empire in 1773, the empress Catherine the Great was persuaded by bribes to purchase from Wedgwood & Bentley, the Staffordshire porcelain manufacturer, the largest order of dinner and table plates in the history of British pottery.  After haggling over the price for the 944 pieces, the tsarina paid Wedgwood’s invoice at today’s equivalent of £4 million – the largest price ever charged and paid for such things until that time. Wedgwood lost money on the deal, though. That was because the bribery and costs of production and delivery turned out to be greater than Catherine’s payment. The way the bribes worked, Wedgwood told the British ambassador in St Petersburg and his wife to make gifts of expensive samples he had sent them, keeping some for themselves as commission. The ambassador’s wife wrote back: “Her Imperial Majesty has kept all the Vases and the Dejeuné [sic — luncheon plates] you sent me, as samples, and they were very much liked.”

There are political lessons in this – especially if you read them while eating your dinner off a paper plate or out of a cardboard box.

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BRITISH CONVERT SKRIPAL-STURGESS INQUEST INTO NOVICHOK SHOW & THROW TRIAL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It has not been proved that an unlimited number monkeys in a room with typewriters to match and an infinite amount of time would type the complete works of Shakespeare, or even one of the Bard’s lines.

But the improbability of the infinite monkey theorem is nothing compared to the certainty which the British government, its judiciary, the Metropolitan police, and the combined forces of the London Bar proved on Wednesday in a room of the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand. They proved that a troop of humans are making a monkey out of every principle of British justice and the criminal law — in order to advance the government’s war against Russia.

On September 22,  Dame Heather Hallett, the coroner in the inquest into the cause of death of Dawn Sturgess on July 8, 2018, officially ordered the prosecution of a crime without a defence; in a trial in which the verdict has already been declared by the judge herself and the prosecutors;  in which the surviving victims of the alleged crime, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, are not allowed to testify and forbidden to appear in public at all; when the three Russians accused of the crime are not permitted to be represented in the proceeding; in which there will be no jury; and in which the evidence of the crime, the weapon, the intention and motive of the perpetrators will be presented in secret so that there can be no testing for truth, fabrication,  or lie.

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NOVICHOK SECRET PARALYZES BRITISH DOCTORS FOLLOWING GERMAN DOCTOR’S DISCLOSURES

By John Helmer, Moscow, and Liane Theuerkauf, Munich 
  @bears_with

The leading hospital doctors on Novichok poisoning in Britain and Germany are not allowed by their governments to reveal publicly the medical information they have exchanged with each other.

James Haslam, the chief doctor at Salisbury District Hospital treating Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal for Novichok poisoning in March 2018, and Elspeth Hulse, an anaesthetist at Newcastle upon Tyne hospital and co-author with Haslam of a medical research paper on the Skripal case,  refused this week to say if they participated with German doctors in the treatment of Alexei Navalny for Novichok poisoning at Charité Hospital in Berlin in August 2020.   

According to Hulse, she has been ordered to keep silent by the British Ministry of Defence. Asked what communications and consultations on their expertise in the Skripal case they exchanged with the Berlin doctors treating Navalny, Hulse replied: “I have been advised that you should in the first instance go though [sic] the UK MOD press office. Press Office  020  7218 7907 I hope that this helps.”  

Haslam also refused to answer if he had communicated with Navalny’s doctors in Berlin, or when.

Cara Charles-Barks, chief executive of the Salisbury hospital, refused this week to say what collaboration there has been between Salisbury and the Charité — the only two hospitals in the world to claim to have successfully treated cases of Novichok poisoning.  

However, the British and Germans did collaborate in secret.  Last week Philipp Jacoby, the German doctor directing the medical evacuation of Navalny from Omsk Hospital in Russia to Charité in Berlin in August last year, revealed that when he brought Navalny to Charité, there was “a welcome committee (Empfangskomitee) of about 30 people present.” He added he didn’t know who they were except that they were an “international” group.

The lead German doctors treating Navalny, Kai-Uwe Eckardt and David Leindl, published last December a detailed clinical case report on the Navalny case; they reported the psychotropic drugs, lithium and benzodiazepines, in his blood and urine on arrival; his biochemical test scores for each of the days he was in hospital; and their course of treatment with atropine and blood plasma. Jacoby is one of their co-authors. This week Eckardt and Leindl were asked “to confirm the contacts and communications you had with British doctors of Salisbury District Hospital on the August 22 day of [Navalny’s] admission and subsequently?” They refuse to reply.

Since Jacoby’s fresh disclosure of the “welcome committee”, the record of what the British and German doctors did, and when they did it, is evidence of how the two governments planned the public disclosure of the two Novichok attacks and the Anglo-German allegation that the Russian government was behind both of them.

A leading British specialist on organophosphate poisoning commented: “Here is an irony.  Jacoby and the Charité hospital group published in The Lancet every minute detail about Navalny’s diagnostics. Now Dr.Hulse defers to the Ministry of Defence. What is the secret they are concealing — that the British treatment of the Skripals for Novichok exposure was different from the German treatment of Navalny? Or is the secret that there was no Novichok in either case?”

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GERMAN DOCTOR TREATING ALEXEI NAVALNY MAKES NEW DISCLOSURES

By John Helmer, Moscow and Liane Theuerkauf, Munich
  @bears_with

Philipp Jacoby, the only German doctor treating Alexei Navalny for alleged poisoning to have testified publicly, has given a new press interview to alter the interpretation of the evidence he gave last week. “People close to Navalny”, he now says, “warned me about John Helmer”.

In two telephone interviews on September 6, Jacoby revealed that the planning of his medical evacuation flight to Russia began in Shannon, Ireland, on August 19, 2020, the day before Navalny fell ill on a flight between Tomsk and Moscow on the morning of August 20, 2020.

Jacoby also testified that Maria Pevchikh, one of Navalny’s staff, had been the first to mention Novichok when they were talking together at the intensive care unit of Omsk Emergency Hospital Number 1, where Navalny was being treated, after his flight had been diverted for an emergency landing at Omsk. Later, Jacoby added, Pevchikh and Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s wife, had asked him — and he had agreed with them — to conceal their backpack containing water bottles from Navalny’s hotel room in Tomsk on to the German medevac aircraft, making it appear to be his own luggage and thereby avoid Russian detection at Omsk airport.

In a fresh interview for almost ninety minutes on Thursday evening, September 9, conducted in German, Jacoby did not claim his earlier interviews had been misquoted or misinterpreted. Instead, he revealed how close he has been to Navalnaya, corresponding by email with her after Navalny arrived in Germany for treatment.

Jacoby also issued the first personal attack by a German doctor or German government official on the medical expertise and truthfulness of the Russian doctors treating Navalny at Omsk. “The doctors in Omsk told us a cock and bull story [die Ärzte in Omsk haben mir einen Bären aufgebunden],” Jacoby now says, claiming they didn’t tell him the full truth. He adds that handwritten records of Navalny’s clinical tests he was shown by the Omsk hospital doctors “were unprofessional and could easily have been faked.” Jacoby did not acknowledge the papers he was shown were handwritten in English because the Omsk Hospital doctors believed Jacoby could not understand computer printouts in Russian.

On the evidence of the German clinical test records, published last December by Jacoby with thirteen of the treating doctors at the Charité hospital in Berlin, Jacoby confirms that lithium and several benzodiazepine drugs were found in Navalny’s blood and urine. In his first interview, Jacoby said he “had no idea where the lithium or benzodiazepines came from. Maybe he took it on a daily basis.”

In his new interview Jacoby said “either he took it regularly himself or the doctors in Omsk gave it to him to distract from the poisoning.”

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FIGHTING THINK TANKS & TROLL FARMS IN THE WAR FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT RUSSIA – HELLEVIG MEMORIAL LECTURE

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

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.

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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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GET YOUR JAB FOR THE TRUTH — GORILLA RADIO REVEALS TRUTH IS LESS INFECTIOUS THAN COVID-19 BUT VACCINATION IS LONGER LASTING

By John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

We are in a state of lawlessness when the law courts defend lies; convict and imprison the innocent, extradite the persecuted; abandon, ignore or cancel the authority of parliament and the constitutional rights of individuals; and issue propaganda justifying killing between states and peoples.

The books whose covers are illustrated describe on the right side of this page illustrate exactly how this has been done to promote the war against Russia in the courts of the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia. At the direction of the government in Ottawa, the Canadian courts are following in lockstep.   

The books were written to prove, first of all, what isn’t the truth and can’t be the truth. This isn’t quite the religious doctrine cut into the wall of the main lobby at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), nor of the biblical gospel: “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

The key to the CIA’s version is the first word “and”. It means that by the time you cotton on to the truth which the CIA intend you to believe, you are already brain dead.

In the Novichok cases reported in Skripal in Prison, the British Cabinet Office and Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) have perfected the unusual formula of taking the body of someone already brain dead; reviving it and then killing it again with a poison fabricated at Porton Down; and then announcing the cause of death to be a Russian assassination weapon which had been embarrassingly missing for several weeks after the Prime Minister accused the Russian President of chemical warfare, attempted murder, etc.

Just how unfree that truth is proving to be is Wiltshire Police Detective Sergeant Nicholas Bailey’s story. But he’s not the only one to reveal the truth by telling lies.  In this week’s Gorilla Radio podcast, retelling the courtroom stories of Julian Assange, Dawn Sturgess, and Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 will help resuscitate the brain, or inoculate it if yours is still alive and sparking.  

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AFTERSHOCK OF NORD STREAM EXPLOSIONS RUMBLES WARSAW — POLISH POLITICIANS GO “NUTTERS”

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.

It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.

Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.

Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points,   want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert  the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.

“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification,  his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”

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THE BORNHOLM BLOW-UP REPEATS THE BORNHOLM BASH — POLAND ATTACKS GERMANY AND BLAMES RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island,  was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.

It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.

Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline  opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”.   The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.

But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.  

Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits,  LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”

Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”.  “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added,   diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February.  Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace  Morawiecki next year.  

The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45;  and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption,  and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .

“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June,  “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”

“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”

The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.

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LEMONS, MIMOSAS, AND STALIN’S SHOVEL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.   

Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha  by the Black Sea in Abkhazia.  Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.

Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred  kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel.  As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him.  “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”

In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.

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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

How little the Germans have changed.

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



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

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

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

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

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

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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