By John Helmer, Moscow

In publishing on Russia, there comes a time when a writer, journalist, bank analyst, television presenter, or academic produces something so lacking in truthfulness, so replete with fawning and meretriciousness, that this website must kill and skin another goat; dry out the vellum; and have a fresh scroll inscribed with the Cat’s Paw – that’s the Personal Abasement Award (PAW).

This award is designed to encourage accountability and ethical reporting on Russia. The PAW committee decided to suspend the Cat’s Paw awards when the start of the Ukraine civil war threatened to overwhelm the supply of vellum and the goat population on which it depends. The goats who have earned the Cat’s PAW scroll have also multiplied exponentially.


By John Helmer, Moscow

Tall stories told by newspapers and their reporters generally don’t start wars. But they do justify them in advance. Afterwards they protect the officials who start them from being prosecuted for war crimes.

On August 5, 1964, there was no truth in President Lyndon Johnson’s claim – reported by every major US newspaper – that there had been “open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America” by North Vietnamese gunboats in the Gulf of Tonkin. That’s because the US Navy destroyer Maddux had been inside North Vietnam’s territorial waters to pinpoint shore targets, after US and South Vietnamese naval vessels had opened fire on North Vietnamese islands in the area several days earlier. The August 4 reports of a gunboat attack on the Maddux “appear very doubtful”, according to a secret cable sent by the Maddux commander to his headquarters at the time. In retrospect, all the available evidence indicates that no attack took place. What is certain, however, is that the fiction was good enough for Johnson to get the US Congress to enact the August 7, 1964, resolution giving the US administration the warrant to start a full-scale invasion of Vietnam by US ground forces. The outcome is well-known. The US was defeated in that war. About 50,000 US soldiers returned in body bags, and about 3.8 million Vietnamese (10% of the population) went prematurely into the ground.


July 14, 2009

Tim Whehell and BBC Newsnight for beating the English language of a UK High Court ruling into the opposite of what it said about the nature of Russian justice, its beneficiaries and victims
Sent: 17 July 2009 14:47
To: Tim Whewell
Subject: Your evidence please
Dear Tim:

In your recent broadcast on Oleg Deripaska, you make the following claim about the ruling of Justice Christopher Clarke in the Cherney v Deripaska High Court action (at minutes 0538-0550 of the tape):

“…The judge said that Deripaska had agreed a final global payment to end Mr Cherney and Mr Malevsky’s protection of his business, words used by Mr Deripaska himself in his statement to the court.”

Please provide me with your substantiation of the judge’s words, as I have searched the ruling and cannot find them; or anything approaching your interpretation of Justice Clarke’s opinion on the substance of the case. At 0526 minutes, you state: “the ruling didn’t deal with the substance of the claim”. Twelve seconds later you seem to have contradicted yourself.


May 8-July 3, 2009

Adam Waldman of The Endeavor Group, Washington, DC, for “correction” of media publications reporting that he is Oleg Deripaska’s lobbyist to recover Deripaska’s US visa, revoked by the US State Department in 2006

Registration with the US Department of Justice by Adam Waldman for The Endeavour Group, pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registratrion Act, May 8, 2009:

Reports and correspondence

Deripaska in Frantic Bid for Visa
354 words
18 June 2009
Intelligence Online
Copyright 2009 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Close to Hillary Clinton, the Endeavour company has been hired to obtain a visa for Oleg Deripaska.
Since July, 2006, the chairman of the aluminum giant Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, has lacked a visa for the United States: the State Department cancelled the former visa without explanation two years after issuing it. The travel ban could play havoc with the oligarch’s finances at a moment when he needs the most help. Rusal is currently negotiating for fresh terms with its creditors who are owed USD 7.4 billion. The talks with banks were almost completed as Intelligence Online went to press.
To help persuade the State Department to give him a new visa, Deripaska retained the services of a small lobbying concern, Endeavour Group, at the end of May. Run by Adam Waldman and Ashley Allen, Endeavor specializes in providing services to billionaire and show business personalities. It is particularly known for mounting philanthropic projects on behalf of its clients but it equally acts to resolve delicate private matters.
Deripaska’s choice of Endeavor to land him a visa was dictated by the fact the firm is close to secretary of state Hillary Clinton. One of the partners of Endeavor, Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind, was Clinton’s head of communications when she was a senator for New York state.
Some of the firm’s advisers are also close to the Clinton couple, including Bill Clinton’s former secretary of the interior, Bruce Babbitt. And financier Richard Blum, husband of the influential Democrat from California, Diane Feinstein, is also a consultant of Endeavor, as is Ed Mathias, one of the founders of the Carlyle equity fund. Mathias is also an adviser to the business intelligence concern Diligence, who worked for Deripaska for years.
Before taking his business to Endeavor, Deripaska had other firms working on his visa problem. One who banged on the State Department’s door on behalf of the oligarch was Bob Dole, former Republican senator and presidential candidate. Dole works as a lobbyist for the law firm Alston & Bird.

02/07/2009 UNITED STATES
Following publication of our article “Deripaska in Frantic Bid for Visa” in our last issue, the oligarch’s public relations firm in Washington, Endeavour, contacted Intelligence Online to specify that Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind, former head of communications for Hillary Clinton and a partner in Endeavour, was not involved in the firm’s work on behalf of Deripaska . The latter’s visa was withdrawn by the State Department in July, 2006 without explanation and he has been trying ever since to have a new one issued. Elsewhere, Endeavour said that Bill Clinton’s former interior secretary, Bruce Babbit, who sits on the company’s informal advisory board, has no contact with its customers. Endeavour also pointed out that it was not a lobbying concern, as Intelligence Online stated.

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 11:31 PM
Subject: From Moscow — re Oleg Deripaska visa representation


President, Endeavour Group
2001 K Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20006

Dear Mr Waldman:

I am the longest serving American correspondent in Russia. You may find background and samples of my coverage, which is published around the world, if you will go to the website address indicated in the header. My questions relate to the report of your firm’s engagement by Oleg Deripaska.

I am grateful to Ms Cooke for agreeing to convey to you, and the other appropriate members of your firm, my request for clarification of the matters arising from the recent reports by Intelligence Online

Regarding the June 18, 2009, report, and the July 2 “clarification”, would be kind enough to say:

1. Has your firm been engaged by Mr Deripaska? If so, when?

2. Is the purpose of the engagement to assist Mr Deripaska in securing State Department and other US Government endorsement for the issuance of a visa permitting him to enter the US?

3. Has your firm registered pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act? If so, when?

4. What members of your firm have been designated to work on this engagement for Mr Deripaska?

5. Are you aware of, and do you believe to be true, US reports that in relation to the US visa matter, and other issues, Mr Deripaska met together with the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates, prior to Election Day last year, on board a yacht outside the territorial limits of the US, in Canadian waters?

6. According to your website, Edward Mathias is listed as an advisor to your group. According to Intelligence Online, Mr Mathias is “also an advisor to the intelligence firm Diligence”. Are you aware, and has Mr Mathias made you aware, that Mr Deripaska is one of the proprietors of the Diligence firm?

I shall be obliged if you would respond by email, or by telephone, as soon as possible.

Should you decline to respond, you and your firm may be reported as refusing to respond.

With my thanks,

John Helmer
Moscow Correspondent

—– Original Message —–
From: Adam Waldman
Sent: Friday, July 03, 2009 12:58 AM
Subject: Your July 2 Fax

Dear Mr. Helmer:

I just received a copy of your fax (and have long been a follower of your fine coverage).

I would like very much to respond to your questions, and have requested permission from my client to do so. Mindful of the time difference, what is your deadline?

Kind regards,
Adam Waldman

Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 7:54 PM
To: Adam Waldman
Subject: Re: Your July 2 Fax

Dear Mr Waldman:

Thank you for your prompt response. I’d like to offer you as much time as you think reasonable with respect to those questions your client may oblige you to obtain his permission to answer, subject to the confidentiality provisions that prevail. I take it you have been in discussion with your client on this point for at least two weeks — since June 18, the publication date of the first report by Intelligence Online.

Your second sentence, and also the July 2 response to Intelligence Online, appear to answer Q1. With respect to Q3, I suppose it is to the US statute, not to Mr Deripaska’s permission, that your duty is owed.

Qs 5 and 6 relate to matters of fact occurring before the engagement; and so I have difficulty in seeing how your knowledge, or non-knowledge, of them can be subject to non-disclosure or withholding retrospectively.

With my thanks,

John Helmer

—– Original Message —–
From: Adam Waldman
Sent: Friday, July 03, 2009 6:49 PM
Subject: RE: Your July 2 Fax

Dear Mr. Helmer:

As a general matter, the Intelligence Online piece you inquired about did not make any attempt to contact my firm Endeavor or me before running its piece; I immediately sent Intelligence Online a correction of factual inaccuracies which they agreed to run. I am not a subscriber to their service but assume they have done so at this point. I sent a similar note to Harper’s, which cited the Intelligence Online piece, and they also agreed, and did indeed, print a correction.

I do appreciate, in contrast, your request for accurate information in advance of running a piece. The following are responses to your questions in the order you presented them:

1. Although Endeavor rarely comments publicly about any aspects of its engagement with clients, it is a matter of public record that we work with Mr. Deripaska.

2. The purpose of the engagement is to advise Mr. Deripaska and entities controlled by him on a range of commercial, regulatory and philanthropic matters. We have not had any engagement with the US government about any visa matters on his behalf. Our web site is – this will provide you some feel for our work.

3. Yes, and it is a publicly available filing.

4. The answer to your question is contained in the filing; but for your convenience my colleague Carolyn Mansfield and I work with Mr. Deripaska.

5. No such meeting has ever taken place and, consequently, no such discussion of visa or other issues ever happened.

6. Mr. Deripaska is not a proprietor of Diligence, or of any other intelligence firm.

I hope these factual clarifications are helpful to you.

Kind regards,
Adam Waldman

—– Original Message —–
To: Adam Waldman
Sent: Saturday, July 04, 2009 11:20 AM
Subject: Reply and follow-up questions

Dear Mr Waldman:

Thank you for taking time out of your holiday to respond, and for writing so painstakingly. At risk and with regret of interrupting your fireworks celebration, may I point out some problems that remain with your response:

Attached below is the full text of the “Clarification” published by Intelligence Online. There appears to be no “correction”, as you use the term or as you mean readers to understand it. The reference relating to Ms McHugh-Wytkind from your side clarifies what the original publication sourced to someone referring to Mr Deripaska’s intention in engaing your firm, not to what you say is your current or future “work”. I am persuaded that you are not denying the original report at all, or the implication that your firm was sought out for influence-peddling. Whether you wish to acknowledge that you accept Mr Deripaska’s idea of you (including Carolyn Mansfield) as an influence-peddler is a judgement that reasonable people are bound to be able to make if they have access to the full record.

Your two other clarifications in the Intelligence Online note — one related to Mr Babbit and one to the interpretation of the term lobbying — suggest the follow-up:

(1) Are you saying that you and Mr Babbit have gone through your list of assignments, clients, and “customers”, and have determined that Mr Babbit has had “no contact” with any of them?

(2) Are you saying that in relation to your engagement by Mr Deripaska, you and Ms Mansfield have made, and will make, no contact of any kind whatsoever with any US government official, any member of the US Congress, or anyone else connected such officials?

(3) Please clarify for me what is Ms McHugh-Wytkind’s association with your firm, and what contacts with what US Government officials she has made since she commenced with your firm, and in particular since May 8.

In relation to the wording of Question/Answer 2, you state: “The purpose of the engagement is to advise Mr. Deripaska and entities controlled by him on a range of commercial, regulatory and philanthropic matters. We have not had any engagement with the US government about any visa matters on his behalf.”

In the filing to the US Department of Justice which you signed on May 8, Registration Number 5394, at

you state: “the agreement or understanding between the registrant and the foreign principal is the result of neither a formal written contract nor an exchange of correspondence between the parties”. Please explain how you reached your understanding with Mr Deripaska, and through what persons acting for him, and what persons acting for you?

You also state: “Endeavour Group is engaged at will by Mr Deripaska to provide general legal advice on issues involving his US visa as well as commercial transactions.” You repeat this point at Box 7 of the registration form: “”Endeavour Group provides legal and advisory services to the principal Mr Deripaska around US visa issues and commercial transactions.”
At Box 8, your work on the US visa issue is explained in greater detail: “Endeavor Group assists the principal Mr Deripaska in the preparation of a US visa application and advocates for US approval of such application”.

At Box 9, you state: “Endeavour Group expects to engage with the U.S. Government regarding the status of the foreign principal’s visa application”.

If all true, please explain:

(4) How your admissions to the US Government do not belie your claim to me: “We have not had any engagement with the US government about any visa matters on his behalf”?

(5) How your “advocacy” is not “lobbying” as this term is understood in the US Code?

(6) To which officials, by name, at what US Government agencies, have you or your Firm or any person in any way connected with you and your firm made contact in relation to Mr Deripaska’s visa issue?

(7) In your registration, you state you are being paid $40,000 per month, plus expenses, by Mr Deripaska. Since Mr Deripaska as chief executive and stakeholder of Rusal, and as controlling shareholder of other companies in the Rusal and Basic Element groups, is currently the object of government supervision, bank investigation, court claims for insolvency, and public protest as a payment defaulter; and since he and his group have unpaid obligations estimated to be about $17 billion, will you please state whether you are being paid monthly in advance; monthly in arrears; or by another sum paid in advance?

(8) Do you believe it to be lawful for your firm to be representing entities that may be trading as insolvents in one or another foreign country, and lobbying for their financial interests before the US Government?

(9) In the registration, at Q8 (b), you have marked the “No” boxes to the following questions: “Is this foreign principal “supervised by a foreign government”, and “financed by a foreign government”. Do you claim to be unaware of Mr Deripaska’s obligations to the Russian state banks, including for $4.5 billion to Vnesheconombank (VEB), chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin; of the state Accounting Chamber’s investigations and supervision of Rusal accounts and payment compliance: and of the intervention, supervision, and investigation by Russian state bodies, including the Prime Mibistry and the Arbitrazh courts, of Mr Deripaska’s indebtedness and lack of financial means? Do you wish to amend the meaning of your registration and file “Yes” to these questions?

(10) With respect to the lobbying assignments you have registered you and your firm as performing for Mr Deripaska relating to aluminium and “General Motor’s [sic] European operations”, what claims have you made regarding your client’s means to make good on payment commitments?

(11) With respect to the claims and evidence currently before the US courts in the Norden case — — please tell me what you advocate before the US Government regarding the value of Mr Deripaska’s contract coomitments?

(12) You refer in your Question/Answer 2 to “philanthropic matters” on behalf of Mr Deripaska. What amounts of money and for what “philanthropic” purposes is Mr Deripaska and his group giving away, subject to your expertise and advice?

Finally, and do pardon me for the detail of this follow-up, occasioned by the nature of your reply,

(13) Please explain why you think your reference in your last line to “factual clarifications” might be “helpful”, if the facts in the public record appear to be at considerable variance with your claims? And if that is so with regard to your claims regarding the US visa issue, will you reconsider and reword your claims with respect to Questions/Answers 5 and 6, relating to the meetings on board Mr. Kerimov’s boat, and with respect to direct and indirect forms of ownership and control of Dilgence? Or are you now saying you and your firm do not know, and have not investigated directly and independently, whether what you have been told of these matters is true or false.

With my thanks,

John Helmer


By John Helmer, Moscow

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?”



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

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), (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

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



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

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.



By John Helmer, Moscow

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.


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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