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By John Helmer, Moscow

Pundits, journalists and public intellectuals don’t commit suicide for professional reasons. And not since Diogenes, the Cynic of Athens, have they opted to live in a barrel, keep the company of dogs, and urinate on their audience.

Even among the most progressive of current journalists, it’s difficult for them not to follow, sit, stay, or bark on the leash  and command of their masters. .  These days the Substack paywall behind their scoops doesn’t pay enough to buy dogfood.  Seymour Hersh’s million for his Nord Stream story is the exception that proves the rule

Patriotism is the safer, better-paying refuge for journalists, even when they risk indictments for being scoundrels — like Evan Gershkovich, the first Moscow Times  reporter since Catherine Belton to be recognized in Russia for what he has been doing.  

Looked at closely, the evidence of espionage against Gershkovich turns out to be much more than a bark up the wrong tree, as Washington officials claim, and Russian government statements deny.In Russian this evidence is already appearing in print from Gershkovich’s friends and contacts. It has yet to be recognized in the US media.  

There is already enough to reveal  close parallels between the Russian indictment of Gershkovich and the wording of the US government’s espionage case against Julian Assange. This evidence  adds unexpected exchange value for Gershkovich – and to a turn of events to come which neither side will have anticipated.

Listen to the discussion in the first segment of this week’s War of the Worlds.  

And then for the first analysis in the English language of what the rebellion of the French against President Emmanuel Macron means for the US and NATO war against Russia, listen to Slobodan Despot.

“Everything is simple and obvious”, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova announced on Thursday evening,  following Gershkovich’s appearance in a closed Lefortovo court in Moscow to plead not guilty to a violation of Article 276 of the Russian Criminal Code.

Source: https://www.imolin.org/

According to Zakharova, “there are many cases when people, when submitting [accreditation] documents, imply that they will be engaged in a completely different activity. It’s called ‘going undercover.’ Under the cover of a journalist visa and accreditation, judging by the events occurring, the person was engaged in a completely different activity. I read a lot of materials from the Western press. They write that [Gershkovich] had the accreditation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so he is a journalist. No. He showed up in this capacity. What happened in Yekaterinburg shows that he was not engaged in journalism. The claims made today by our special services do not relate to his journalistic activities, but to those activities that are not journalistic.”  

Direct witness testimony by a Vedomosti journalist and friend of Gershkovich, Vladislav Postnikov,  indicates Gershkovich was warned by his colleague that what he was doing would be interpreted by the Russian government as potentially criminal. Gershkovich ignored the warning.  

Postnikov’s evidence is that Gershkovich was attempting to collect information on the Wagner military group’s recruitment and other operations related to combat in the Donbass; and on the military production units of Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), based in Sverdlovsk region; this state-owned company has been sanctioned by the US since 2014. It is the leading producer of the Russian Army’s T-90 and Armata main battle tanks.

President Putin touring the production lines for the T-90 and Armata tanks  at Uralvagonzavod on November 25, 2015.

In May 2022, a US White House press release announced “as a result of our export controls, Russia is struggling to replenish its military weapons and equipment. Russia’s two major tank plants – Uralvagonzavod Corporation and Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant – have halted work due to lack of foreign components.”  Gershkovich was following up,  investigating classified military operations at Uralvagonavod.

Another regional source, a Sverdlovsk Duma deputy,  has told the Russian press Gershkovich asked him technical questions about another military-industrial company in the region, including questions like how many personnel were working there, on how many shifts, and on what product lines.   The deputy, Vyacheslav Wegner, refused to answer him,  explaining the information was classified and he was not authorized to say.  Gershkovich pressed on; so did the Federal Security Service (FSB).

If Gershkovich had been a Russian reporter in the US, the US espionage law which would apply to what he was doing in Yekaterinburg is 18 United States Code Section 793. The wording of the sections of this law come from the original US Espionage Act of 1917. Since then, the US Supreme Court has regularly and consistently ruled that actions identified in the statute cannot be defended as the exercise of free speech or protected press freedom under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  As recently as 1988, a Navy intelligence analyst, Samuel Morison,  was convicted under Section 793 of sending classified US satellite photographs of a Soviet aircraft carrier under construction at Severomorsk to Jane’s Defence Weekly, a London publication for which Morison worked part-time. The court ruled the action was not protected by press privilege.   

Look closely at how the US government defines espionage in Section 793, and note that the language applies to anyone attempting to obtain a wide variety of military information, including information about factories, weapons systems, and munitions “for the advantage of any foreign nation”:

Click to enlarge and read at source.

What makes the exposure of Gershkovich to Section 276 of the Russian espionage law so plain is the US Government’s amended indictment of Julian Assange, and the protracted attempt by the US and the British governments to extradite Assange for trial in Virginia. Here is the indictment of Assange of June 2020. Note that the main espionage charges introduced against Assange, superseding an earlier indictment, are all based on Section 793.

Source: Assange Superseding Indictment

In short, the Russians have arrested and imprisoned Gershkovich on charges which are very similar to those Assange has faced in court in London, and which the British judges and the Home Secretary  have agreed to accept as a legal basis for extraditing Assange to a US jail to face trial.

Assange lost his appeal to the UK Supreme Court last year;  A fresh appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was lodged this past December.  An Australian government claim to ameliorate Assange’s legal position ended at the US refusal to stop short of a conviction of Assange in a US court.     

President Joseph Biden’s spokesman has now declared “we condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest terms. We also condemn the Russian government’s continued targeting and repression of journalists and freedom of the press.”  

In a briefing with White House reporters, the spokesman added: “This espionage charges are ridiculous…[Question] In regards to the Wall Street Journal reporter being detained, would the administration call this a hostage situation? MS. JEAN-PIERRE:  Same — same — I mean, he’s being wrong- — he’s being detained.  And — and we have been very clear there’s — you know, there’s no reason to believe that those charges are accurate, the espionage — are accurate. I don’t want to speak beyond that.  And certainly, we will have more information when we get it.  There are privacy concerns, so we just want to be very mindful on how we speak about this.”  

The White House spokesman added that Washington believed American journalists would be safe to pursue classified Russian military information. “Look, we don’t — we didn’t — we don’t have any specific indication that journalists would be targeted.”  That’s one law for Americans acting against the Russian enemy; another law for Russians defending their military secrets from Americans.

On the Baltic seabed this week, the US appears to have acted preemptively to remove evidence of the explosives used to blow up Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines on September 26, last year. At the same time the US has blocked a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to open an international investigation into what had happened.  

The UNSC vote took place on March 27. On April 1 the German website Overton published an interview in German with Seymour Hersh.  Hersh claims he has spoken to a US or German journalist as a source. “There are remnants of a mine in the sea – why didn’t they try to find it? And he said,  Well, we tried. The Swedes and the Danes were there within a few days. But the Americans had pre-empted them and had removed the unexploded ordnance. I asked, ‘Why do you think they did this?’ And he said, ‘You know what Americans are like.’ They just want to be the first.”

Hersh appears not to have recognized the implication of what he was told; there has been no report from any of the journalists, analysts, or NATO propaganda organs monitoring the Nord Stream site of a US naval salvage operation of this kind.

The only published confirmation of recovery of evidence from the Baltic seabed has been the repeated refusal of the Danes, Swedes and Germans to reveal what they have collected from the pipelines. Then on March 29 the Danish government reported in detail on its recovery of an object identified near the pipelines which had been discovered and then announced in Moscow. According to the Danes, the object had no connection to the explosions. “Investigations indicate that the object is an empty maritime smoke buoy, which is used for visual marking,” according to the Danish Energy Agency.  

Sources: left --  https://www.reuters.com/ right: https://www.thelocal.dk/

Follow the fresh attempt by the NATO propaganda agency Bellingcat to return blame for the pipeline to the Russian Navy here.  In his new German interview Hersh repeats his attack on President Vladimir Putin.  “You can never support a man who chooses war when there are other options. I know he was put under pressure, but it’s the bloodiest war in Europe since World War II. And we had the Balkan war and we had Chechnya, but that’s nothing compared to what’s happening between Russia and Ukraine. That goes back so many generations. In the 1930s there were bad harvests, there was famine, and they took the whole harvest from Ukraine and brought it to Mother Russia. The Ukrainians died in 1932, while the Russians stood by and took away their food.”

Hersh also endorses the role of the German intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst  (BND),  claiming he believes it had no foreknowledge of the Nord Stream attack, no participation, and no part in the subsequent German press reporting. “Nor do I believe that it is the purpose of a good intelligence service as you have it, and you know how closely it works with us. If you don’t know, you can probably guess it. We are close allies, especially after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. But I don’t think they’re involved in the cover-up in the sense that they’re aware of it. There is something in the world called critical thinking. And I just don’t know why we don’t have more critical thinking in this story than we’ve done so far.” For the contrary evidence, read this.  

What then is happening in France, where nationwide strikes, city protests and violent attacks on protesters by police and agents provocateurs have followed President Emmanuel Macron’s moves to impose rule by personal decree and ignore the National Assembly. One consequence is the rising French disapproval of Macron, erasing the 59% majority he won on his re-election in May, a year ago.

Source: https://www.politico.eu/

Faced with this revolt, Macron gave an interview to children, which has been published in Pif, a popular magazine for young readers.  

According to Slobodan Despot, a well-known analyst of French politics, Macron’s campaign to rule France without parliamentary or public approval, and to crush all opposition may be succeeding. There are also signs, he reports, that in the Arab and African immigrant quarters of the French cities, there is open display of support for Russia; the military and intelligence services, he adds, are increasingly concerned at the likelihood of defeat by the Russian forces on the Ukrainian battlefield of French arms and NATO plans.  

Left: Slobodan Despot – for more background: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Despot
 For access to his published books, click.  Centre: the 75th anniversary cover of Pif, the French children’s magazine, in which President Macron (right) has given an interview which has set the country laughing at him.  

And now, no April Fool here, listen to the new broadcast:   

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