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By Alexander Zaitchik and Mark Ames, Moscow
November 30, 2007

“A Victory for Russian Democracy”
—Title of a New York Times editorial, days after the ODIHR-approved 1996 presidential election

“Exit, Russian Democracy”
—Title of a New York Times editorial, days before the ODIHR-boycotted 2007 Duma elections

When Russia told the OSCE that their election monitoring mission would be severely limited last month, it seemed as though Putin had fired an authoritarian shot out of the blue, baring his inner Stalinist once and for all. The West reacted as if the OSCE was the crucifix of democracy, and Putin’s rejection of that crucifix was evil rejecting good.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Another way is that the recent Russia-OSCE door-slamming episode is the inevitable outcome of years of cynical Western manipulation of an organization that once held enormous promise and impeccable credentials, but is now with good reason considered a propaganda tool for the West.

If that last sentence sounds like the paranoid rant of a Putin-era silovik revanchist, then think again. It’s the view held by none other than the man who headed the OSCE’s 1996 election mission in Russia, Michael Meadowcroft.

“The West let Russia down, and it’s a shame,” said Meadowcroft, a former British MP and veteran of 48 election-monitoring missions to 35 countries.

In a recent telephone interview with The eXile, Meadowcroft explained how he was pressured by OSCE and EU authorities to ignore serious irregularities in Boris Yeltsin’s heavily manipulated 1996 election victory, and how EU officials suppressed a report about the Russian media’s near-total subservience to pro-Yeltsin forces.

“Up to the last minute I was being pressured by [the OSCE higher-ups in] Warsaw to change what I wanted to say,” said Meadowcroft. “In terms of what the OSCE was prepared to say publicly about the election, they were very opposed to any suggestion that the election had been manipulated.”

In fact, he says, the OSCE and the West had made its mind up about how wonderfully free and fair Boris Yeltsin’s election was before voting even started.
(more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

It was a relatively bright day, November 21, 1920, when Vladimir Lenin, having won the civil war and driven off the American, British, French, Canadian and Australian expeditionary forces, announced: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country, since industry cannot be developed without electrification.”

It was a cloudy day in Moscow last Sunday, September 18, when Russian voters, suffering the effects of two and a half years of American, British, French, Canadian and Australian war, demonstrated what they think of Anatoly Chubais’s electrification. Russian politics — those who voted and those who stayed at home indicated, both — is Putin power plus electrification at a state-controlled price, since the country cannot develop if the Chubaisites pocket the profit and leave ruinous debts behind for the taxpayer to cover.
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By John Helmer, Moscow

A multi-million dollar case of corruption and money-laundering, involving the fugitive Russian businessman Leonid Lebedev and his lawyer, now the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades (lead image), moved to New York this week, as Anastasiades landed for a week of meetings at United Nations headquarters; followed by Lebedev’s jet a few hours later.

Disclosures in a Manhattan court last week confirmed for the first time Lebedev’s emails to and from Anastasiades and his law partner, Theofanis Philippou. Over Lebedev’s opposition to revealing what these records say, the New York court is now set to request the Attorney-General of Cyprus, Judge Costas Clerides, and the Justice Minister, Ionas Nicolaou, to subpoena documents, bank accounts, and other records, plus communications to and from the businesses Anastasiades and Philippou have been supervising in Cyprus on Lebedev’s behalf since 2012; possibly earlier when Lebedev became a Cyprus citizen secretly, with help from Anastasiades and Philippou. That was in March 2011; they then began moving large amounts of cash from Russia through Cyprus companies and trusts into three New York banks.

Attorney-General Clerides has been investigating Lebedev’s business in Cyprus for months. He had Philippou under investigation earlier for allegedly corrupt involvement in the sale of the state airline, Cyprus Airways. Anastasiades was a defence witness in a criminal court prosecution by Clerides of a former deputy attorney-general on corruption charges. The trial will conclude in Nicosia next week. “I have done my duty towards the justice system in my country,” Anastasiades said when he appeared to testify in June. Philippou has been charged with no wrongdoing. he refuses to answer press questions about the Lebedev case.

Russian prosecutors are also pursuing investigations of Lebedev’s electricity company business in two regional courts, Tver and Yaroslavl. Lebedev was granted protection from Russian prosecution by the US Government in 2014, after he resigned his Russian senate seat and left the country. He now lives in Los Angeles.

What Lebedev is offering to reveal to US Government officials he is refusing to disclose in the New York Supreme Court. There he has been suing for $2 billion in compensation for shares in the Russian oil company TNK which he claims he sold to Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, but was never paid for. Last December Judge Saliann Scarpulla dismissed Lebedev’s fraud allegations, leaving a single contract claim hanging on a single piece of evidence – did Lebedev control Coral Petroleum, the company which received Vekselbereg’s and Blavatnik’s payment for the oil company shares?

The President of Cyprus knows the answer. He must now try to keep Lebedev’s secret from the Cyprus Attorney-General.
(more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow

If you want to understand Russian politics, watch the tomato talk to power.

President Vladimir Putin rolled out the red carpet for Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, last month, and it was announced that the Russian ban on Turkish food imports will soon be dropped. But the Russian tomato trade doesn’t agree. It says Turkish tomatoes will remain excluded from the Russian market.
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By John Helmer, Moscow

The Russian state shipping company Sovcomflot and its chief executive Sergei Frank (lead image, right) have been ordered to pay “tens of millions of dollars” in punitive compensation to exiled shipowner, Yury Nikitin (left). A UK High Court judgement late last month concluded a record 11-year litigation by condemning Frank’s dishonesty in fabricating evidence in the case, and freezing hundreds of millions of dollars of Nikitin’s funds. Frank and his Sovcomflot subordinates were judged to have been more culpable than the court’s findings that Nikitin had been dishonest in paying bribes to win new vessel and tanker charter business.

The High Court judgement, which has gone almost unreported in Moscow, was issued on August 26. The 40-page ruling by Justice Sir Stephen Males flatly contradicts international bond and share sale prospectuses which Sovcomflot has been circulating in international markets. The judgement may blackball Frank as unfit to manage or direct an internationally listed company in future.

“The potentially devastating consequences of a freezing order have often been recognised,” ruled Justice Males. “It is only just that those who obtain such orders to which they are not entitled, a fortiori when they are guilty of serious failures to disclose material facts and have pursued claims described by the trial judge as ‘obviously unsustainable’, should be ordered to provide appropriate compensation for losses suffered.”

“If the Kremlin still hopes to privatize Sovcomflot with the sale of shares to international investors,” commented a London investment banker, “it will have to replace Frank, and purge the company and the board of everyone responsible for the London case.”
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By John Helmer, Moscow

When Hillary Clinton (lead, left) was US Secretary of State in 2009, she proved she could lie to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel; keep secret her hostility towards Russia even in her secret staff emails; and take money in her back pocket for an $8 billion deal between the US, Germany and Russia recommended by her subordinates. The record, recently revealed in US investigations of Clinton’s emails and donations to the Clinton Foundation, shows why the Kremlin assessment of Clinton is hostile and blunt – Clinton invites and takes bribes, but can’t be relied on to keep her bargains.
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By John Helmer, Moscow

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akhromeyev

On August 24, 1991, Marshal Sergei Fyodorovich Akhromeyev committed suicide. He had returned from his holiday at Sochi responding to the attempted removal of Mikhail Gorbachev from power. According to the reports of the time, he hanged himself in his Kremlin office, leaving behind a note. One version of what it said was: “I cannot live when my fatherland is dying and everything that has been the meaning of my life is crumbling. Age and the life that I have lived give me the right to step out of this life. I struggled until the end.”

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By John Helmer, Moscow

This is the season for bears to be good to the bushes. When bears eat berry seeds, they pass straight through and on to the forest floor, where, packaged in a warm pile of manure, they can germinate. Where I’m going, summer is for berry-eating, so you’ll have plenty of manure, er germination, to observe in September.
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Chris Cook with John Helmer, Victoria, B.C., Canada

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Gorilla Radio is broadcast weekly by Chris Cook on CFUV 101.9 FM from the University of Victoria, British Columbia. The radio station can be heard here. The Gorilla Radio transcripts are also published by the Pacific Free Press. For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open.