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By John Helmer, Moscow At the freedom-flush Moscow parties of the 1990s, I was never sure whether Alexander Venediktov (2) was real, or a Vladimir Mamyshev-Monroe (1) impersonation. Mamyshev-Monroe died last month in what is described as a shallow swimming pool in Indonesia. Venediktov is alive, and like Mamyshev-Monroe does his radio turns on Ekho-Moskvy [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Pavel (Pavlik) Morozov, aged 14, was murdered on September 3, 1932, along with his 9-year old brother, Fyodor. They were stabbed to death. Four people were convicted of the crimes – their grandfather Sergei and cousin Danila did the stabbing; uncle Arseny plotted the crime beforehand; grandmother Kseniya covered it up [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow If seated in the dark at the Bolshoi Theatre, even a man of consuming narcissism as Boris Yeltsin was could tell the tights from the tutus. But Yeltsin saw himself as the prima donna, battementing and glissading into the old tsar’s box, Dress Circle centre front. At the Bolshoi, Stalin preferred [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent in Moscow named Steven Rosenberg staged and filmed a rehearsal of what he claims Pussy Riot told him they were planning at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral at least a day, possibly several days before February 21. That is the day when three of the [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Now we move on from the lesson of how to be victorious over big people and bullies when still small —that’s for getting through the daytimes with ВЛАДИМИР ВИЗАНТИЙСКИЙ – to the lesson of how to write a short sentence and say everything that must be said at the same time. [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It has been obvious for some time that Vladimir Kekhman’s banana financials were so rotten, his Joint Fruit Company (JFC) was republishing its second-quarter financial results as if they were the third quarter figures, postponing the fourth quarter and full-year releases, and refusing response to the question Why? It has also [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The last time Russia’s leadership assembled to listen to a piece of classical music was seventy-five years ago. It was on January 26, 1936, that Josef Stalin and the entire Politburo were at the Bolshoi Theatre to hear Dmitry Shostakovich’s opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Stalin was seen not to like [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Not since Raisa Gorbacheva revealed that she knew how to use a credit card for shopping and displayed the PhD she had bought, I mean earned, has the wife of a Russian head of state attracted such a display of petit bourgeois chagrin.

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By John Helmer in Moscow Dodon was the power-mad, menopausal tsar in the opera, Zolotoi Petushok (Le Coq d’Or, Golden Cockerel), by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and he is making his comeback in St. Petersburg. This time the role is being played by Valery Gergiev (image), who usually keeps to the conductor’s podium in the orchestra pit, [...]

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November 21, 1695 – Henry Purcell, English composer, died, aged 35   See’st thou not how stiff, and wondrous old Far unfit to bear the bitter cold, I can scarcely move or draw my breath, Let me, let me, freeze again to death. — Song of Cold Genius, King Arthur