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By John Helmer, Moscow “I can promise to say nothing that is untrue”, wrote Giuseppe di Lampedusa, the Sicilian prince, the Italian writer, when introducing a chapter of his brief memoirs. “But I shall not want to say all; and I reserve the right to lie by omission. Unless I change my mind.” If somebody [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Russians have an uninhibited good humour at this time of year, but Alisher Usmanov aims to be the spoiler, holding his nose over all the treats. According to Usmanov, the transaction “has the smell of the 90s and oligarch conspiracies. It’s not acceptable for us.” Usmanov is referring to the transaction, [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Sergei Stepashin (right) was the prime minister of Russia for three months before Vladimir Putin (left) was appointed to the job in August 1999. Before that, Stepashin was the head of the Federal Security Service, Minister of Justice, and Minister of Interior. He also has a doctorate; a professor’s rank in [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Along the eastern Mediterranean shore, between Tyre, Lebanon, and Tartous, Syria, it’s 191 kilometres as the crow flies – make that as the drone flies. Tyre was the site of one of the great tests of military technology, tactics, and nerve when the Greek, Alexander the Great, besieged the then Phoenician [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow When precious metal geologists kiss their wives good night, and go to sleep, they dream of pushing upstream from river-borne, alluvial or placer deposits of platinum, to strike the mother lode. In geological theory, this is the El Dorado of the platinum business – a bedrock of high-grade platinum ore, not [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It has taken Alexei Mordashov (image lower right) three and a half years to persuade shareholders of Toronto-listed High River Gold (HRG) to accept his takeover of the company. That’s the longest foreign defence against a Russian takeover in the oligarch record-book. But when the count was completed on December 11, [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The UK High Court ruled today that Yury Nikitin, a London-based Russian shipping entrepreneur, had engaged in corruption and “dishonest assistance” in order to secure profitable charters from Novoship UK (NOUK). At the time, Novoship was an independent Russian shipping company; since 2007 it has been a subsidiary of the state-owned [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow It’s a cliché about greed. Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon allows four witnesses to an affair of lust, robbery and murder to tell their own versions of what had happened. There is one corpse, and several versions of how it got that way – at the hand of the wife, the [...]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Oleg Deripaska (image centre) is not having a good week. It started more or less out of harm’s way with a report in a London magazine, Private Eye. This claims that at least two Caribbean companies and one UK entity, which Deripaska uses to channel sales revenues from United Company Rusal [...]