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design DwB-1565

By John Helmer, Moscow

The outcome of Sunday’s Ukrainian parliamentary election is likely to be a majority of deputies in favour of war in the east, and against Russia. This is because the Ukrainian economy is ruined, so for the foreseeable future, war draws US (IMF, World Bank) and European Union cash stipends which are a better-paying option than peace.
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By John Helmer, Moscow

The world’s most mysterious, and expensive, hole in the ground has been ceremonially opened by the Russian Foreign and Trade Ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Denis Manturov. At least that’s what they say they did a month ago in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe (lead image, centre), also presided.

The hole to be dug is to cost the Russian state budget and banking system at least $600 million, rising to $3 billion in three years; and then $4.8 billion by 2024 when mine, ore-processing plant and refinery are fully operational. That’s according to the Zimbabwe press announcements. They have also disclosed the list of Russian and Zimbabwean partners in the deal. Calling themselves Afromet, the Russians are Vitaly Mashitsky (lead image, left), Sergei Chemezov (right), and Vnesheconombank (VEB) represented by Alexander Ivanov, son of the presidential chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov. The Zimbabweans are calling themselves Pen East Investments. Together, they have picked the name Great Dyke Investments.

There’s a catch: no Russian involved in what is billed as the Darwendale platinum project wants to admit what he is doing; what protection from loss has been installed by the Kremlin for the money; and why a new platinum mine in east Africa can be a profitable way of spending Russian state money when the country’s platinum miners, Norilsk Nickel and Russian Platinum, say they wouldn’t touch the project with a barge-pole.
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1563

By John Helmer, Moscow

Voter polling by the US Agency for Intrnational Development in Ukraine reveals that if the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk fail to cast votes, the outcome will be a hung parliament. President Petro Poroshenko’s (lead image, left) bloc, according to the US- funded polls taken in September, will lead the voting, but his candidates are unlikely to gather more than 32% of the vote nationwide. That’s far ahead of his opponents, but when the most anti-Russian of them are added up, together they may draw about 30% of the vote.
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footbal

By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal, the Russian aluminium monopoly, has announced it has won a judgement of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) confirming its shareholding control of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon), the only aluminium producer in the west African state. The LCIA, Rusal claims, has defeated the Nigerian Government’s challenge to the legality of the privatization of the plant in Rusal’s favour in 2004, and Rusal’s subsequent purchase of Alscon shares in 2006.
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Company

By John Helmer, Moscow

“The genius of you Americans is that you never made clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves.” That was Gamal Abdel Nasser addressing a CIA man he knew well, who’d been involved in a series of plots to assassinate Nasser, all hapless.

The year was 1957; that’s 57 years ago. If Nasser lived long enough to come across the Clinton family (lead image, rear left), President Barack Obama (front right), Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (rear right), Nasser was smart enough to have modified his observation to acknowledge that the genius of Americans is that they make clear-cut stupid moves, too.
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By John Helmer, Moscow

A Washington think-tank, funded by the US Government, has discovered that at least half of all Ukrainians think that not enough force has been used to put down the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Even more Ukrainians express confidence in the military – 66% in the pro-Kiev volunteer battalions, and 76% in the regular Ukrainian forces. At the same time, the poll reveals that 73% of the Ukrainians believe the country is now worse off than it was six months ago, before Petro Poroshenko was elected president. If the opinions of those living in the Donbass aren’t counted, the percentage of pessimists is still 69%.
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Design 1559B

By John Helmer, Moscow

Last Thursday the government in Beijing struck a new blow against the domination of global commodity markets by countries allied with the US in the sanctions war against Russia.

The measure announced is a 3% to 6% tariff to be imposed on coal imports to China, commencing on October 15. Australia, the largest supplier of coal to China, will take the largest hit in its trade. Indonesia, the second largest coal supplier to China, will be exempt as a member of the free trade zone between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Russia and South Africa, the next largest coal exporters to China, are allied with China in the BRICS geopolitical group: they are to benefit, too. Russian officials and industry sources confirm that negotiations on tariff relief are underway in Moscow this week as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met his counterpart, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
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Rusal 1557
By John Helmer, Moscow

United Company Rusal, Russia’s aluminium monopoly, lost a prop for its sale revenues, debt repayments, and share price this week, when the UK Court of Appeal allowed a new aluminium stocking rule by the London Metal Exchange (LME) which Rusal has been opposing since July 2013.
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By John Helmer, Moscow

Following the publication of yesterday’s report on the case of Vladimir Yevtushenkov, an insider from the Russian oil industry has communicated this analysis of what provoked Yevtushenkov’s arrest, and what will happen next. The insider has had more than 15 years of experience working with Igor Sechin, now chief executive of Rosneft.

“The problem of Yevtushenkov is in his misunderstanding of what it means to own an oil company. He was given a right just to touch the object [Bashneft]; to clean and polish it; and then to hand it over to Sechin [Rosneft]. But Yevtushenkov decided that he was the real owner, and he started disputing with Sechin over the price of the asset. That’s something that is totally indisputable.The Ukrainian theory [of the case] is just camouflage.”
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Gauntlet

By John Helmer, Moscow

Conspiracy or screw-up — there is no shortage of complicated theories in Russia to explain why an oligarch of Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s (image, left) size is being made to run the gauntlet, quite apart from the fact that he’s probably guilty of the crimes alleged against him. What is missing is the Russian equivalent of screw-up. That’s to say, who screwed up – if this is what is happening.
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