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Comment by GB, London We used to fly the Zimbabwe roses (and some Zambian) to the Dutch auctions; about 100 tonnes a week on Boeing 747s. Ours were cut, trimmed and boxed, and we delivered them to Amsterdam very early in the morning so that they could make the auction at the flower market in […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Dutch auction, as it’s called in the wholesale flower trade of Europe, is a clever scheme which simulates competitive bidding while it hides premiums in the prices Dutch growers and traders rig for their flowers. To cut the cost of flowers you have to deadhead the Dutch. And that’s exactly […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It’s midsummer. Time for the oligarchs, even the insolvent ones, to go aboard their yachts, and set sail for the resorts of the Mediterranean. Oleg Deripaska’s Queen K is this week cruising in the eastern Aegean between the Greek islands and the Turkish coast. Andrei Melnichenko’s A is in the Gulf […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow With three tweets Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, right), the leading Russia-hater of Poland, and his wife, Anne Applebaum (left), a member of a Russia-hating think-tank in London called Legatum, acknowledged on Monday that they have been ousted from the very frontiers they claim to be threatened with Russian invasion; dismissed by […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Russia’s misfortunes aren’t exactly sweet for the country’s leading sugar producers, but they can’t complain. On the back of sharply rising sugar prices in January, first-quarter earnings and profits have jumped at the listed sugar producers, and the trend is expected to continue through the second quarter. Prodimex, the leading sugar […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Canada – bless its maple-leaf heart – has given Ukraine C$400 million in cash since last September to help the Kiev government finance its civil war and debts. This week in Ottawa, with the signing of a free trade agreement between the two governments, the Canadians aim to claw back the […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Last Friday a US federal court judge named Andrew L.Carter Junior issued a warrant for the US Government to seize $300 million in bank cash and investment accounts in Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg. The proceeding conceals the name of the owner of the targeted bank accounts, and of the mastermind in […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Mikhail Fridman (lead image, centre) and Alexei Reznikovich (left) have a telephone problem, and it’s got a name, Gregory Shenkman (right). It’s not that Vimpelcom, the global mobile telephone company they control through LetterOne (L1), Fridman’s offshore holding, isn’t a lucrative business. In market capitalization Vimpelcom is currently worth $8.7 billion; […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Long before David Cornwell (aka John Le Carré) retreaded an insignificant career gathering facts at MI5 and MI6 into lucrative fiction about espionage, Eric Ambler created the genre from an insignificant career telling lies at an advertising agency. In the Le Carré business model, characters of several nationalities close to ourselves […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Vladimir Potanin (right), control shareholder of Norilsk Nickel, loves Oleg Deripaska (left), control shareholder of Russian Aluminium (Rusal). Potanin made his inamorata official on Monday. He even quoted Vladimir Lenin’s version of withdrawing before ejaculation, announcing that with Deripaska it has been necessary to “disconnect before combining…Time has shown that it […]