Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow The late Yegor Gaidar, when acting prime minister of Russia, thought up the idea of the Yeltsin Tax. The late Boris Nemtsov didn’t think it was such a bad one when he was first deputy prime minister. The one still surviving officeholder responsible for the idea is Anatoly Chubais, chief executive [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow A porcelain figurine (lead image, left) produced by the Popov Manufactory of Moscow sold in London on Wednesday for £2,700. The auction by MacDougalls revealed unusually strong demand from Russian collectors. They paid record prices for some figurines, including Tsar Nicholas I (right), from the Sipyagin Manufactory, who fetched £29,700. The [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow Igor Kolomoisky, the single largest beneficiary of international lending to Ukraine and until Tuesday night the most powerful figure in the country, has lost his residence permit for Switzerland, according to a reliable source in Geneva. Coming after the news of Kolomoisky’s armed and vocal clash in Kiev with Ukrainian President [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow Works of art are only reliable investment assets if the trade in them is tested and transparent enough to prove they aren’t stolen goods, forgeries, or what is known in Russian as falshak (фальшак), a term originally applied to counterfeit coins. Naturally, as the art trade generates higher and higher prices [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow In Ukrainian villages they still say a dog won’t cry if you beat him with a bone. In the Zaporozhye region of eastern Ukraine, there are exceptions – bones on which even dogs fear to choke. The Zaporozhye Alumina and Alumimium Combine (ZALK) is an example. Owned by the Russian aluminium [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow For the first time Moscow analysts have issued precise estimates of the ferrous scrap sold in the domestic Russian market by the major scrap companies, and identified the market shares of the leading companies by name. The disclosures also confirm that the state-owned Russian Railways (RZhD) is one of largest scrap [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow Next to prostitution, collecting scrap metal is the oldest trade in the world. Like prostitution, it prefers to do its business in the dark. Because it’s so easy and cheap to turn sex and stolen goods into cash, the expensive capital requirement for both lines of business is in protection from [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow When you have been the target of assassination by a powerful figure in Russia, as I have, and you survive the hit, as I did, you learn one thing or two things before; more in retrospect. One is that the Moscow police act quickly and competently, as they would elsewhere – [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow The President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades agreed last week with President Vladimir Putin on what is reported in London and Washington to be a military basing agreement with Russia for Russia’s naval and air forces in the Mediterranean. In the aftermath, Putin did all the talking to the press, making it [...]

Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow The Kremlin doesn’t want to say so exactly. But right now it is as reluctant to support the Greek Government in its conflict with Germany, as Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Politburo wanted to back the Greek Communist Party during the Greek civil war between 1946 and 1949. So, when Foreign [...]