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By John Helmer, Moscow Entitled “The Yellow Airplane”, this is a Russian painting of the late Socialist Realist epoch. The artist signs himself Kazak, and dates the work 1960. I found it in Moscow in 1998. Later it disappeared for more than a decade. But several months ago it was found, and I’ve had it […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow At the very beginning of his presidency, in March 2000, Vladimir Putin said the state – he meant himself – should be “equidistant” from the oligarchs. He also promised “compliance with [market] rules, without offering any advantages or privileges or preferences to anyone”. The president, Putin added, “should stand above this […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Leonid Lebedev (lead image), the former Russian senator and energy trader, has lost fraud and deceit claims against Len Blavatnik and Victor Vekselberg in a New York Supreme Court ruling. After considering the case for eight months, state judge Salliann Scarpulla has also rejected Blavatnik’s and Vekselberg’s application to dismiss Lebedev’s […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Eponymously, much of The Netherlands is close to or below sea level. So it’s susceptible to inundation by sea storms and heavy rains. So long as the man-made dykes hold the water back, the country can be saved. According to a well-known Dutch history lesson from the 19th century, it took […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow On November 13, Gennady Timchenko (lead image), once the oligarch controlling the greater part of Russian oil movement from well-head to market, established a new line of business. He called it Carignan, after the Mediterranean grape variety, and he put his public relations agent in charge of the company as chief […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Victorian state coroner Iain West (lead image) has concluded a 60-minute inquest into the deaths of Australians on board Malaysian Airlines MH17 by issuing a statement of findings contradicting the coroner’s own statements, as well as the evidence of reports from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and courtroom testimony from […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Australian Federal Police and Dutch police and prosecutors investigating the cause of the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 believe the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) has failed to provide “conclusive evidence” of what type of munition destroyed the aircraft, causing the deaths of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. After […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow On what the Paris Agreement for climate change (COP21) should have decided last Saturday, no Russian business figure has been as outspoken as Oleg Deripaska (lead image), chief executive and control shareholder of the Russian aluminium monopoly, Rusal. “Balderdash”, Deripaska said of the agreement terms during a whistlestop interview with a […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It isn’t exactly certain what the Turkish military saw on a foredeck deck of the Russian Navy’s landing ship, Caesar Kunikov, as it passed through the Bosphorus Strait last Sunday. What is certain is that the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared the Russians had launched “a pure provocation” at Turkey, and that […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If the London art market is a test of reality, then last week’s Russian Week sales demonstrate that Russian buyers are poorer, and there is now less Russian money for buying Russian paintings, jewellery, porcelain and other art objects than at any time since Russian Week started in London in 2005. […]