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1606d

By John Helmer, Moscow

MiningMaven of London is a leading source of analysis for the global mining, minerals and metals sector. For this week’s interview on what will happen next in the war against Russia, pocket your telephone, and toss your paper. Tune in here.
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1603d

By John Helmer, Moscow

A federal US court in Colorado has begun proceedings on charges that Natalie Jaresko (lead image, right), the US national who was appointed Finance Minister of Ukraine this month, lied to the US State Department and violated US passport laws, after she misled a Ukrainian court in September into issuing a judgement it lacked the legal authority and the evidence to make.

Documents presented to the US court on November 21 also accuse the US Embassy in Kiev of being improperly influenced or misled into accepting the record of a Ukrainian court proceeding from which Ihor Figlus, Jaresko’s husband between 1989 and 2011, says he was excluded unlawfully. Figlus is a US citizen of Ukrainian extraction now living in a suburb of Denver. He is alleging in US District Court that Jaresko has tried to persuade the State Department to issue a US passport to the 10-year old daughter of their marriage with a ruling from a Kiev judge who believed the child was a Ukrainian citizen, not an American. Jaresko, according to Figlus, has manipulated the State Department with “rulings obtained in a foreign country whose judicial system is widely recognized by the Government of the United States as being deficient and corrupt.”

According to a Ukrainian legal specialist cited in the US court file, Jaresko “deceived the [Ukrainian] court” by preventing Figlus from participating in the proceedings, and then getting the court to rule on the child and violating Ukrainian law “which it could not apply in this matter.” Figlus has asked the Colorado court to order the State Department not to issue the passport.
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1602d

By John Helmer, Moscow

Soviet-era officials had a peculiar standard of professional morality and ministerial responsibility, as this is known in the political democracies. Make a colossal mistake, the red directors used to say — take the blame on yourself. Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev was the last Russian official of rank to do so. The anniversary of his death on August 24, 1991, is observed here.

The last head of Gosbank and twice the Governor of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), Victor Gerashchenko, is now 76 years old, and in his second retirement. He was driven into the first following the rouble crash of 1994, under the attack of US Government economic advisors, Jeffrey Sachs and David Lipton. They called him “the worst central banker in the world”. Gerashchenko was returned to the CBR after the 1998 crash and the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister. Primakov was criticized by US Government officials as a proto-communist and a KGB spy. He was removed from office after eight months, when he prepared to take Russia into the war for Yugoslavia, on the Serbian side. Gerashchenko lasted until 2002.

Recently, Primakov has been called back to the Kremlin to assist President Vladimir Putin restate Russian foreign policy and security strategy. Gerashchenko remains on the outer, his return to advise Putin opposed, among others, by the current CBR Governor, Elvira Nabiullina, who is 25 years his junior. Following the crisis at the Central Bank on Monday and Tuesday, Gerashchenko was asked by an interviewer what advice he would give Nabiullina: “If I were in her position, I would ask for a gun, and shoot myself.”
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1569b

By John Helmer, Moscow

Once upon a time when the US Government used to plot the overthrow of allied European governments, Ronald Reagan was President, and George Shultz his Secretary of State. On March 25, 1986, Shultz arrived in Athens, intent on delivering an ultimatum for the Greek Prime Minister, Andreas Papandreou; Shultz thought he would be a pushover. Either Papandreou would agree to accept an American scheme Shultz aimed to spell out – and humiliate Papandreou in front of his electorate. Or else the US would find a more direct way of removing him. It greatly amused Papandreou to know that Shultz had the Marine Corps insignia tattooed on his buttocks. He could be obliged sit on the vulgarity, Papandreou calculated — but not on Papandreou, and not on Greece. And so it turned out.

Tattoos, the seen and the unseen ones, flash powerful messages like that – even if their wearers don’t quite intend them the way they are interpreted. So what tattoos are worn by Elvira Nabiullina (left) and Ksenia Yudaeva (right), the two officials in charge of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) this week as they try to stop the run on the rouble and on the state reserves.
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1598Ad

By John Helmer, Moscow

Multi-billion dollar lending to Ukraine by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank has stopped amid growing doubts among country board directors at the two international organizations that the Ukrainian Government can meet repayment commitments and loan covenants for 2015, or deliver on reform promises and budget financing targets tabled in Kiev this week.

For the first time since the change of government in Ukraine last February led to civil war in the east of the country, European bankers and multilateral fund sources acknowledge that Kiev is now likely to default on its international debts, and will seek a reorganization of its bond debt. This will hit Franklin Templeton, the US investment fund which has accumulated up to $9 billion in Ukrainian bonds on a wager to make a $4 billion profit – if the US Government guarantees full and timely repayment.
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1597d

By John Helmer, Moscow

The report of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on CIA torture is long on details, very short on Russia. For the full report, click.

There are just five references to Russia; all are footnotes to intelligence reports produced by several US government agencies for review by them all. Three footnotes refer to the notorious bomb attacks on apartment buildings in Moscow, Buynaksk, and Volgodonsk in September 1999, when 293 people were killed; 651 injured. There is one footnote referring to unidentified Russians offering Arabs anti-aircraft missiles, and one on Russian roulette.
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1596d
By John Helmer, Moscow

In the recent history of Russian classical music, Mstislav Rostropovich grew so rich with the cello – Vladimir Spivakov with fiddle, Valery Gergiev with baton, too — how to explain that the broadcasting of classical music on the radio has grown so poor?

The technologies of digital reproduction of music are now so cheap, the radio audience can listen to far greater sound quality at a fraction of the price Rostropovich used to demand. The devices available for broadcasting and listening are also far smaller, higher in sound quality, and more affordable than ever before. With stream programming like Sweden’s Spotify, radio audiences can even assemble their own concerts, and do away with the cost of presenters, engineers and producers playing maestro themselves to justify their pay. Not to mention the costs of microphones, players, sound desks, transmitters, and radio frequencies.
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1593d_combined

By John Helmer, Moscow

Tiger is an unlucky brand-name for Russian investment. The record of Mikhail Prokhorov and Maxim Finsky in trying, and failing three times over to sell shares in White Tiger Gold on the Toronto Stock Exchange explains. So why is the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a state development bank, betting on a small Australian-listed coking coal company in Chukotka called Tigers Realm Coal?

The feareasternmost province of Russia, Chukotka makes a good case for ample underground resources to be mined, so long as costs of digging and shipping to China stay low; and demand recovers. Perish the thought that Tigers Realm Coal is an insider manipulation with the aim of pumping the share price, then dumping the project by several names associated with such scheming in the past.
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Natalya_Yareshko

By John Helmer, Moscow

The new finance minister of Ukraine, Natalie Jaresko, may have replaced her US citizenship with Ukrainian at the start of this week, but her employer continued to be the US Government, long after she claims she left the State Department. US court and other records reveal that Jaresko has been the co-owner of a management company and Ukrainian investment funds registered in the state of Delaware, dependent for her salary and for investment funds on a $150 million grant from the US Agency for International Development. The US records reveal that according to Jaresko’s former husband, she is culpable in financial misconduct.
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1594d

By John Helmer, Moscow

Edward Lucas has revealed that he is virtually leaving the UK for Estonia. His wife, Cristina Odone, too.

That may be strategic, because they think they should be closer to the front line in the war against Russia. It may be personal, because they want to be closer to their family friends, ex-foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Anne Applebaum, his wife, who have suffered from recent scandal and misfortune in nearby Poland. When asked to explain in an interview with Estonian state television in Tallinn on Monday, Lucas said he wants to take advantage of Estonia’s tax system. A Russian invasion notwithstanding, about which Lucas has done much broadcasting, he thinks the risk is outweighed by the benefits of Estonia’s zero tax rates for company income, dividends, interest payments, and copyright royalties.
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