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By John Helmer in Moscow On June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, the young Abraham Lincoln launched his campaign for a seat in the US Senate for Illinois, with a speech that became famous for these words: “In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. ‘A house [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow Alrosa’s new management, headed by Fyodor Andreyev (right picture), has announced this month that, despite one of the worst years on record for global diamond demand, the Russian company expects to sell roughly the same dollar value of diamonds this year as last, and to earn a bottom-line profit as [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow One celebration drink too many in Bar Vogue, in downtown Almaty, has turned out to leave a very bad taste for lawyers advising hard-rock mining and oil project start-ups in Kazakhstan. In a 216-page judgement issued this month, after three years of litigation across half the globe, a group of [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow The Far Eastern Shipping Company (Fesco), owned and run by Sergei Generalov, Russia’s largest dry-shipping operator, is to receive a state guarantee for loan repayments of Rb1.5 billion ($52 million), and will apply this to a loan of Rb2.5 billion ($86 million), which is being finalized this month with state [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow A hitherto unknown Russian, believed to have intelligence connexions in Africa, has made contact with the Guinean government in a bid to save the Russian bauxite and alumina concessions in the country. The move, orchestrated in Paris this month, is the first indication to date of French moves afoot to [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow The new Economy and Energy Minister of Bulgaria, Traycho Traykov, has issued a warning to Moscow that if Russia intends to build a new cross-Turkey crude oil pipeline, running from Samsun on the Black Sea, to Ceyhan, on the Aegean, that will mean the cancellation of the long planned Burgas-Alexandroupolis [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow It was ten years ago, almost to the day, that a lawyer from Philadelphia named Bruce Marks had a very smart idea. If you are too small and weak, physically or legally, to recover money you unwisely entrusted to a big Russian crook, Marks recommended going to your nearest federal [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow Billy Bunter was a fictional schoolboy character well-known to British and colonial schoolboys of my generation. Like most of us, his eyes were bigger than his stomach. Unlike many, by the age of ten Bunter had grasped the concept of leverage — to feed himself he was always borrowing against [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow It’s either a comedy starring Pinocchio, or a tragedy ending in Seppuku. According to Section 1 of Sovcomflot’s corporate code of governance — ratified by the company board in 2007, and posted on the company website — one of the principles is “prompt disclosure of complete and reliable information about [...]

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By John Helmer in Moscow It’s not so surprising that religion tends to be humourless. Making people accept the impossible usually requires threats, not jokes. There is no record that Jesus Christ ever laughed out loud. His idea of humour was sarcasm, and puns he lifted from fishermen and carpenters. But for overdoing seriousness, the [...]