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Ironman

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Ukrainian civil war, and its aftermath, economic warfare between the US, the European Union, and Russia, are transforming the global flows of the minerals from which steel is made. Starting with iron-ore, the future for steelmaking will start at the minehead, not in Australia, nor Brazil, but in West Africa. That is if Gennady Bogolyubov, the Ukrainian miner, can help to produce high-grade iron-ore at a cash cost of $20 per tonne. At that price, Bogolyubov and China’s iron-ore traders and bankers calculate, they will be able to break free of the global price-fixing for the mineral which has been dominated, until now, by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in the US camp, and Vale of Brazil.
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The bill
By John Helmer, Moscow

If one man aims to prove, all by himself, that Russia is a country ruled by a handful of cronies of the President, that man is Arkady Rostenberg.
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Sovcomflot
By John Helmer, Moscow

A decade of lawsuits promoted in the UK courts by Sovcomflot’s chief executive, Sergei Frank (right), has ended disastrously with a judgement issued against him and his company in the High Court today.
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Deripaska2.10

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Nigerian government was ordered by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday to oust United Company Rusal from the country’s aluminium smelter, and hand it over to a Nigerian-American group which has been suing for a decade.
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evraz_ipo

By John Helmer, Moscow

During his lengthy testimony and cross-examination in the UK High Court, Roman Abramovich (below, left) claimed he couldn’t remember much about what taxes he paid. The judge believed him. That remarkable episode in the history of Russian taxation took place on November 5, 2011, at 3 in the afternoon.

Now Abramovich has presented the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with a prospectus for selling shares of the North American division of his steel company, Evraz. The document runs to 218 pages, and except for the minuscule print on one, Abramovich omits to say who he is, and how he controls Evraz. He glosses over one key word from his description of Evraz, and the big risk for shareholders in North America: that word is “Russia”.
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flyboy_deripaska

By John Helmer, Moscow

Oleg Deripaska is flying to the rescue of the Fatherland, again.

Russia is now a war economy, even if not all the Kremlin officials in charge will admit it publicly, as they squabble privately over what to do, and who will gain. “A new industrialization for the country”, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the military-industrial complex, Dmitry Rogozin, announced on Sunday night television – without saying what place the old, unsanctioned oligarchs may have to play, or the new oligarchs on the American proscription list.
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pinchuk_cow

By John Helmer, Moscow

What do Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Anders Aslund, Steven Pifer, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and the Brookings Institution have in common? Answer: they drink unpasteurised milk from the Ukraine. Lots of it.

How damaging this may be for the health depends on how Victor Pinchuk (image left, right), the Ukrainian pipemaker, responds to filings in the Moscow Arbitrazh Court. Reported publicly this week, the court papers suggest that through companies registered in Cyprus, Pinchuk milked about $200 million from the Rossiya Insurance Company in Moscow. For the time being, the Russian court action is a civil one, and seeks repayment by Pinchuk’s East One holding and related companies. If Pinchuk doesn’t repay, Cyprus, European Union, and US court action, alleging conspiracy to defraud, is likely to follow. Pinchuk’s innocence should be assumed in the meantime. Drinking raw milk, however, carries a contamination risk.
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canada_challenge

By John Helmer, Moscow

A legal challenge by Canadians against government evidence for sanctions against Russia has won a reversal by the Canadian Foreign Ministry. The victory conceded by the ministry in Ottawa last week opens the door to legal challenges to the US Government’s campaign to topple President Vladimir Putin and force regime change in Moscow.

The Canadian Foreign Minister, John Baird, admitted in parliament on September 18 that the government had removed two Russian banks, RosEnergoBank and Expobank, from its sanctions list. “Following receipt of new information and further investigation and analysis, these entities are being removed from the list,” Baird said in reply to a question in the House of Commons from opposition member, Paul Dewar. According to Baird, the banks were “sufficiently divorced” from events in Ukraine to warrant sanctions.
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alrosa_strings

By John Helmer, Moscow

When a man falls on his sword, his demise isn’t usually blamed on medical reasons.

A statement from the state diamond miner Alrosa on Monday reported that chief executive Fyodor Andreyev (image, lower right) “decided to resign from the post of ALROSA president for medical reasons. He announced about this decision at the weekly management meeting held on 22 September. Stepping down from the operative management of the company, Fyodor Andreyev will continue to take part in ALROSA governance as a member of the Supervisory Board.” Now the smallest child in Russia knows that to absent himself from school, he must deliver a signed medical certificate. For a publicly listed shareholding company, as Alrosa has been since October 2013, to omit such a detail, and for Andreyev to judge it unnecessary, signals how little has changed in the governance of the company, and how unaccountable and non-transparent Andreyev was both in his coming to Alrosa, and in his going from it.
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g20_war

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian Government is threatening the personal security of President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit, to be held in November. The state government of Queensland, where the summit meetings will be located, is threatening to attack Putin with public displays of homosexual symbols, including pink sequins.

The calculation is that Russia’s international isolation should be intensified, Putin evicted from the G-20, as he was in March from the G-8; reviled in his absence as justification for violent schemes to overthrow him. If Putin attends the Queensland meeting, the risk of the latter will be high. Fear for himself is what the Australians intend him to have.
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