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by John Helmer, Moscow

All the well-known plague novels make the same mistake. So unexpected, inexplicable, incurable, and comprehensively lethal was the plague for those telling its story, their conclusion has been that there can be no getting back to normal.  

Not so in Russia. “Over the past week”, President Vladimir Putin declared last Thursday, “we have dedicated our efforts primarily to countering the coronavirus epidemic and preparing urgent measures to support the people and the economy… now that life is getting back to normal, it is essential that we deliver in a proactive and effective manner on the strategic objectives and large-scale projects with a long planning horizon and generate momentum.”

He’s right; the plague diarists are wrong – pandemics reinforce the normal and those who survive are doubly sure of it. But normal for Russia is the one the Anglo-American warfighters also aim to go back to.  Their campaign to turn the World Health Organisation (WHO) upside down to blame China for the coronavirus is a fresh example – and contrary to western media reports, Russia is not supporting it.  

The new WHO campaign, in the Russian interpretation announced last Friday by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,  is nothing more than a repeat of the British campaign two years ago to blame Russian assassins for smearing Novichok poison on the door-handle of Sergei Skripal – and to turn the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) upside down until it endorsed the fiction.

The British Secret Intelligence Service did not invent the fabrication of murder by door-handle poisoning.

Left: Alessandro Manzoni, 1785-1873:  Right: New York Times announcement that “British officials investigating the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian double agent, believe it is likely that an assassin smeared a nerve agent on the door handle at his home.”

The credit for that belongs to the father of the modern Italian language, Alessandro Manzoni, who told the story of the yellow ointment door-handle poisoners in his novel, I Promessi Sposi (“The Betrothed”), published between 1823 and 1827.   The 1630 bubonic plague of Milan had been Manzoni’s original. It was the show-stopper he introduced at Chapter 31 of the novel, as Manzoni neared his conclusion at Chapter 37.  For Manzoni the plague conveniently disposed of all the enemies plotting against Renzo and Lucy, the hero and heroine, so that they could return to their village, get married, and live happily ever after.

The 400-year old Milan Novichok was a yellow-coloured ointment fabricated in a French or Spanish poison laboratory. “It was at that period a prevailing opinion in all Europe,” wrote Manzoni, “that enchanters existed, diabolical operators, who at this time conspired to spread the plague, by the aid of venomous poisons and witchcraft… The next morning a new and more strange and significant spectacle struck the wondering eyes of the citizens. In all parts of the city the doors of the houses and the walls were plastered with long streaks of whitish yellow dirt, which appeared to have been rubbed on with a sponge. Whether it was a wicked pleasantry to excite more general and thrilling alarm, or that it had been done from the guilty design of increasing the public disorder; whatever was the motive, the fact is so well attested, that it cannot be attributed to imagination…”

“The Tribunal of Health published a decree, offering a reward to whomsoever should discover the author or authors of this attempt; but they did this, as they wrote to the governor, only to satisfy the people and calm their fears —a weak and dangerous expedient, and calculated to confirm the popular belief. In the meantime many attributed this story of the poisoned ointment to the revenge of Gonsalvo Fernandez de Cordova; others to Cardinal Richelieu [lead image, left], in order the more easily to get possession of Milan; others again affixed the crime to various Milanese gentlemen. The doors of public edifices and private houses had been again anointed as at first. The news flew from mouth to mouth; the people, influenced by present suffering, and by the imminence of the supposed danger, readily embraced the belief. The idea of subtle instantaneous poison seemed sufficient to explain the violence, and the almost incomprehensible circumstances, of the disease.”

Of course, the yellow ointment and the foreign door-handle poisoners were fictions – in 17th century Milan as in Manzoni’s time,  a century later. When no evidence of them could be found, Manzoni points out, the Milan authorities invented “magical and poisoned powders! It was asserted that these powders, scattered profusely in the road, attached themselves to the skirts of the gowns, and to the feet of those who had been on that day barefooted: thus the human mind delights itself with contending against phantoms of its own creating.”

Since April 20, Australian government officials have been proposing to hold an investigation of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The phantom had been first identified for the Australians by President Donald Trump who threatened on April 7 to withdraw US funding for the WHO after accusing the organisation of promoting Chinese “disinformation” about the corona virus. On April 14 Trump announced he was “directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/

By yesterday, according to its propaganda agency, the Australian Government “has now swung its diplomatic firepower behind the European Union, which has also been pressing for an investigation while taking a more conciliatory line with Beijing.” Australians, not Trump, claimed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, had been “the first nation to call for an independent inquiry into how the coronavirus started… European nations and Australia have been rallying support for a draft EU motion which calls for an ‘impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of “the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.’”  

Australian officials claim that Russia is backing the resolution. This is false.

Last Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained why the Australians, Americans and British are reviving the old door-handle ointment fabrication.  He added that if the WHO is to be blamed for failing to spot it, then the Australians, Americans and British, who dominate the staffing of the WHO, are themselves to blame.  

Source: https://www.mid.ru/en/

“We already have enough examples of unfriendly steps being taken against Russians for no reason. I cannot foresee what else our Western partners will come up with. They already know how to invent sanctions out of the blue, as has happened repeatedly: for example, in connection with the poisoning in Salisbury (the so-called Skripal case) or the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.

“But they never provide hard evidence. They proclaim ‘highly likely,’ and then sanctions are imposed. So, I really hope that a sense of proportion and common sense will prevail in the West, as well as the need to follow international law in any of its actions, which requires credible evidence and clear facts to support any accusations, in court or in international agencies. We have not seen this approach from the West with respect to the groundless charges against us so far.

“We are on the side of justice and common sense. Justice implies that it is wrong to accuse someone of something without the facts. I have given examples of the attitude of our Western partners who base their accusations on the declaration ‘highly likely,’ which is how they accuse us of many things. I think the same applies to any situation where a country [China] is being blamed for serious actions that affect lives but no facts are given. This attitude cannot be taken lightly.

” A few words of common sense. This is not a time to be crying ‘stop thief!’ and pointing fingers, it’s a time to cooperate and to develop a vaccine as soon as possible. Institutions in Europe, China, Russia, the US and many other countries are working on this. A kind of ‘prestigious race’ is taking place – who will be the first? There are already manifestations of ‘national egotism’ where the competition for being the first with a vaccine is not entirely scrupulous. There is information that the US is buying Sanofi, a French company, in the hope that it will be the first to develop the vaccine and that the US will get it. However, there are proposals from France and other European countries (which we share) that any positive result in this regard must be instantly made available internationally and the vaccine must be accessible to all. This is common sense without any selfish aspirations or attempts to derive a political benefit from this tragic situation.

“I would like to recall that it was in late December that we learned from our Chinese colleagues about what was happening there (when they became convinced that this was really an epidemic). In January, specialists were already talking about it, in part, under the aegis of the World Health Organisation (WHO). In February WHO experts visited Wuhan. By the way, there was a Russian specialist in this delegation. So, it is at least inappropriate to say that the Chinese were concealing information from the WHO, or that the WHO did not know some things, or that it knew about the coronavirus but held back information. Needless to say, nobody could imagine the developments that led to this pandemic but it’s an unprecedented situation. Doctors were acting under conditions where the experience gained from other pandemics was not enough. This pandemic proved to be much more serious.

“I think WHO experts must be supported and encouraged in every way rather than accused without grounds. This is especially true since the overwhelming majority of WHO Secretariat employees come from the countries that are the strongest critics of the WHO. They are demanding a drastic reform of the organisation, everything short of closing it down. Representatives of the US, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Australia, Portugal and Britain amount to over 30 percent of the WHO specialists, that is, people who deal professionally with epidemics and healthcare in general. The majority of Western countries have many more specialists there than they are entitled to by their quota. Out of about 2,100 specialists, one third come from Western countries. Italy, Canada and Australia have about 60 employees each. China has fewer than 40 and Russia has 20. Even if China or any other non-Western country had a malicious plan to use the WHO for its narrow interests, how can 40 people do this if they are confronted by over 700 specialists from Western countries, which are united by allied commitments in NATO and the European Union? I believe it is important to focus now on helping the experts and professionals to develop a vaccine instead of trying to derive some geopolitical, electoral or other advantages.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/ 
The Gates Foundation, GAVI Alliance, National Philanthropic Trust, and Rotary International are all US policy operations.  

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