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By John Helmer, Moscow The German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 wiped out Amsterdam as the centre of the global diamond trade at the time. When the war ended, Antwerp, across the border in Belgium, was preferred by the diamantaires, and so it has remained. Until last week, perhaps. That’s when the Belgian courts [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow In publishing on Russia, there comes a time when a writer, journalist, bank analyst, television presenter, or academic produces something so lacking in truthfulness, so replete with fawning and meretriciousness, that this website must kill and skin another goat; dry out the vellum; and have a fresh scroll inscribed with the [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Four out of five Polish voters casting ballots in Sunday’s first-round presidential election were holding their noses. But what they want to say won’t be clear until the second round on May 24; maybe not until the parliamentary election in six months’ time. What is already clear is that the Poles [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Heeeeeeeeere’s Sasha, Boris, Andrei, Olga, Zahar, Ella, Sergei, Seriosha, Pavel, Natalia! That’s the top-10 of the top-100 Russian politicians auditioning for election and power, picked this week by 26 experts; paid for by the Kremlin budget; and reporting to Vyacheslav Volodin. He’s the deputy head of the President’s administration in charge [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Disclosure by Russian officials of state companies of their annual incomes and property is required by Russian law. There are four exceptions. The first is when the officials required to disclose don’t want to. The second is when the prime ministry is persuaded to let them. The third is when the [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Eastern European alliance in the war against Russia is cracking up. In Poland, voters will elect a new president on May 10, and then a new parliament and prime minister by October 30. On present polls, the pro-American war factions are unlikely to win. That will mean the elimination, at [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow President Vladimir Putin has lost the war. Not the one with Washington for the future of Europe, eastern Ukraine, and the Kremlin itself. That war isn’t going so badly for Putin. The one he is losing is with the Russian oligarchs on whether they will repatriate their assets from their offshore [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Canadian Government announced last week it is giving away another C$200 million to Ukraine, topping the $200 million handed to Kiev last September. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson concedes the money is not being audited as the announced loan agreements require. Nicholson, according to Johanna Quinney in Ottawa, [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow On July 17, 2014, at 1320 local time, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. The investigating authority, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), reported within five days that the two black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR – lead image, left) and the flight data recorder (FDR), had been recovered. [...]

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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 [...]