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By John Helmer, Moscow The ancients were pretty sure that when Zeus tossed his lightning and thunder bolts, he wasn’t well-intentioned, let alone fair-minded. It’s that way too in Russia when electricity gets distributed between the big shots and ordinary folk. The ancients were also sure Zeus could be bought off, but obviously not by […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If the US Government and Congress believe they have the right to impose sanctions on Russian individuals and companies for conduct that is legal in Russian and international law, what would happen if the boot were on the other foot – if the Russian Government imposed sanctions on US individuals and […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If the common Russian opinion of who runs the country matches the evidence of who really runs Russia, that’s a reliable test of a democratic culture. There’s a catch. If just one man and a handful of his trusties run the country, and noone else, not even the very rich or […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow This week it’s hot and humid in Conakry, capital of the west African Republic of Guinea. It will hit 30 degrees in the day; the humidity will be 100%. Until Saturday, when the much-postponed, much-rigged parliamentary elections will be held, there will be occasional thunderstorms, sunny spells, and an inch of […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow How many angels can dance on the point of a pin was a trick question for medieval scholars: that’s because, theologically speaking, angels have no substance. So the correct answer is that an infinity of them can sit on the point. Alternatively, since Thomas Aquinas (d. March 7, 1274) claimed two […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If QIWI, the Russian electronic payments operator, is such a good thing, why did the market cut the stock price the minute QIWI announced this week that it’s planning to sell off more of the control shareholders’ shares? QIWI was co-founded by Alisher Usmanov’s internet portal company, Mail.ru, and Usmanov continues […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The last time President Vladimir Putin publicly criticized Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of United Company Rusal and Russia’s most indebted man, it was at Pikalevo, Leningrad region, in June of 2009. Putin tossed his pen at Deripaska, told him to sign a back-pay agreement, and demanded his pen back. Referring to […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Diamond prices have been growing in the global market since January, but depending on your choice of accounting period, the growth rate is either not much; or not at all; or negative since July. Alrosa, the state-owned diamond miner directed by Fyodor Andreyev (image left), reported its latest financial results this […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The international ratings agency Fitch has downgraded its assessment of the Ukrainian pipemaking group Interpipe, owned by Victor Pinchuk, warning that Russian action since July to impose penalty duties on Ukrainian pipe imports is causing a serious loss of sales and a grave shortage of cash for Interpipe. If that continues, […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The takeover announced at the start of this month by Global Ports Investments (GPI) of the National Container Company (NCC) gives control of more than 72% of container transportation volume in Russia’s west, including the Black and Baltic Seas; and more than 82% of Russian box volume in the northwest, from […]