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By John Helmer, Moscow President Vladimir Putin is the bee’s knees. There’s noone to beat him, electionwise. But when it comes to feeding Russians the genuine article, Putin’s promise is a honey trap. Naturally, we are talking only of the business of Russian beekeeping, honey production and trade. Eighteen months after Putin listened to a […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Medovukha, Russia’s fermented honey drink known in English as mead, is at least one thousand years old. If it’s what the Greeks meant by ambrosia, the nectar of the gods, then it is as ancient as wine, Dionysos’s tipple. Whether Rurik the Viking* brought mead with him to ancient Rus, or […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Johnny Appleseed, an eighteenth century nurseryman and orchardist, is honoured in his American homeland for being a patriotic soldier in the  war against the British, and for going barefooted in the mission of Jesus Christ to convert the native Indians, whose tribal lands he enriched with apple nurseries.  It’s the job […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The Russian government this week fired a new shot across the bows of New Zealand, one of the Obama Administration’s staunchest allies in the Pacific and on the Ukraine and Syrian warfronts. Starting on Monday next, February 6, imports of New Zealand beef will be banned by the Russian Service for […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow A lucky man can stumble upon a treasure, runs an old Russian proverb; an unlucky one can’t even find a mushroom. If he does find a mushroom, Lewis Carroll’s account of Alice in Wonderland added a problematic choice: eating one side of the mushroom may dwarf you; eating the other may […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The privations of war and the taste for oysters don’t usually go in the same direction. Two years into the new war, the problem now for Russian oyster farmers is that if they aren’t careful, they may harvest not just plenty of home-grown oysters to replace imports within a year or […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The soybean is an edible legume native to East Asia. For Russians that means it’s a native of Siberia. Eighteen months ago, President Vladimir Putin declared Russian soybeans to be the best in the world. The president was on a tour of the Russian Far East, the region of the country […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow For Russians to eat as much cheese as they want, there aren’t enough cows in Russia, and too many palm trees in Malaysia. The impact of year-old sanctions in cutting off the flow of imported cheese from Russia’s suppliers in Europe is to stimulate the production of domestic cheese. But at […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow The largest retailers in Russia are achieving revenue and profit growth at the same time as Russian consumers are suffering from falling wages, higher prices, and loss of confidence, which has dwindled to lows not recorded for the past twenty years. How the expansion of the retail business is made possible […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Oleg Deripaska, control shareholder and chief executive of the Russian state aluminium monopoly Rusal, hasn’t exactly made a positive rate of return for Asian investors. In fact, share-buyers at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are likely to conclude that he’s made a hash of every venture he’s tried to bring to […]