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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Under cover of its Russian S-400 air defence batteries, and ignoring US and European sanctions, Turkey is going on the offensive at sea, surrounding Cyprus, and by land, launching a weapon against the European Union against which there is no defence: a Turkish cannon firing 150,000 people at Europe’s borders each month. They are the refugees from the wars the US and NATO launched in Iraq, Syria and Libya. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It appears that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his officials may have lied twice – the first time in February to deny they had discussed mediation in the Kashmir conflict with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; and the second time this week to deny that Modi discussed US mediation with President Donald Trump a fortnight ago.

Indian officials insist they never ask other states or leaders for mediation, and don’t lie about it. What they mean by ask and what they mean by mediation are not quite so clear. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The new Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the Ukraine, elected on Sunday, will have an overwhelming national mandate to negotiate peace terms to end the five-year civil war.

Sluha Narodu (“Servant of the People”), the party of President Volodymyr Zelensky, having won more than 43% of the votes countrywide, will now command majorities of both the party-list and the single-constituency seats in the new parliament; 253 seats altogether out of 422, or a “mono-coalition” as the party is calling the result, or as the hostile Ukrainian media term it, “a landslide [which] has never occurred in the contemporary history of Ukraine and it is more typical for post-Soviet Asian dictatorships.”  

This beats earlier pollster predictions that Zelensky would be forced into a coalition with Holos (“The Voice”), a US-invented spoiler organization of Lvov region (Galicia) led by pop singer, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk.  He ended up  with less than 6% of the national votes, fewer than forecast. Holos has proved to be neither the voice of youth, nor an organization without oligarch support (it was backed by Victor Pinchuk), nor a political party at all.

Polling better than predicted was the Donbass (Donetsk, Lugansk regions) party, Opposition Platform led by Victor Medvedchuk, which ended up with 13% nationally; 48% in Lugansk; 42% in Donetsk; 24% in Odessa; and 19% in Nikolaev. If the additional votes of the eastern Opposition Bloc of Boris Kolesnikov and Vadim Novinsky are counted with Medvedchuk’s aggregate, together they have drawn majorities of 53% to 54%, putting Zelensky’s party in the east in a minority.

This is the first time democracy has defeated a US Government-installed putsch and junta in Europe since the election of Andreas Papandreou’s Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in 1982. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

A new documentary from Max van der Werff, the leading independent investigator of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 disaster, has revealed breakthrough evidence of tampering and forging of prosecution materials;  suppression of Ukrainian Air Force radar tapes;  and lying by the Dutch, Ukrainian, US and Australian governments. An attempt by agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to take possession of the black boxes of the downed aircraft is also revealed by a Malaysian National Security Council official for the first time.

The sources of the breakthrough are Malaysian — Prime Minister of Malaysia Mohamad Mahathir; Colonel Mohamad Sakri, the officer in charge of the MH17 investigation for the Prime Minister’s Department and Malaysia’s National Security Council following the crash on July 17, 2014; and a forensic analysis by Malaysia’s OG IT Forensic Services of Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU) telephone tapes which Dutch prosecutors have announced as genuine.

The 298 casualties of MH17 included 192 Dutch; 44 Malaysians; 27 Australians; 15 Indonesians.  The nationality counts vary because the airline manifest does not identify dual nationals of Australia, the UK, and the US. 

The new film throws the full weight of the Malaysian Government, one of the five members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), against the published findings and the recent indictment of Russian suspects reported by the Dutch officials in charge of the JIT; in addition to Malaysia and The Netherlands, the members of the JIT are Australia, Ukraine and Belgium. Malaysia’s exclusion from the JIT at the outset, and Belgium’s inclusion (4 Belgian nationals were listed on the MH17 passenger manifest), have never been explained. 

The film reveals the Malaysian Government’s evidence for judging the JIT’s witness testimony, photographs, video clips, and telephone tapes to have been manipulated by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), and to be inadmissible in a criminal prosecution in a Malaysian or other national or international court.

For the first time also, the Malaysian Government reveals how it got in the way of attempts the US was organizing during the first week after the crash to launch a NATO military attack on eastern Ukraine. The cover story for that was to rescue the plane, passenger bodies, and evidence of what had caused the crash. In fact, the operation was aimed at defeating the separatist  movements in the Donbass, and to move against Russian-held Crimea.

The new film reveals that a secret Malaysian military operation took custody of the MH17 black boxes on July 22, preventing the US and Ukraine from seizing them.  The Malaysian operation, revealed in the film by the Malaysian Army colonel who led it, eliminated the evidence for the camouflage story, reinforcing the German Government’s opposition to the armed attack, and forcing the Dutch to call off the invasion on July 27.   (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

What can Foreign Affairs, bimonthly tribune of the Council of Foreign Affairs in New York, be referring to when it reported on the government for which “in worldview and practice, it was a conspiracy that perceived conspiracy everywhere and in everything, constantly gaslighting itself. In administration, it constituted a crusade for planning and control that ended up generating a proliferation of improvised illegalities, a perverse drive for order, and a system in which propaganda and myths about ‘the system’ were the most systematized part.”

Need a clue? On the head of government’s left foot two of his toes were webbed. Still stumped? (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

If Russian money talks,  there can be no doubt it is telling President Vladimir Putin to give Russia’s relationship with Turkey a priority comparable, almost, with China and India. The  message eliminates Greece from the Kremlin’s consideration; it also diminishes Cyprus.

But does this mean there is a powerful Turkish lobby working inside the Kremlin? Does it mean that Russia’s shift on the economic front towards Turkey is causing a strategic switch, reversing the three-hundred year history of tsarist, imperial and Soviet military and security strategy?  Can the Turkish Air Force ambush of a Russian Su-24 fighter and murder of one of its pilots in November 2015; the assassination by a Turkish policeman of Ambassador Andrei Karlov in December 2016; eighteen months of embargo  on Turkish imports to Russia, December 2015 to June 2017; and the failure of the Idlib pact of September 2018 have all been erased from Russian memory, to be replaced by the trust Russian officials now insist they have towards their Turkish counterparts?

As the Turkish military begin deploying their newly delivered Russian S-400 missile batteries, first around the capital Ankara, and then in southwestern Turkey covering the airspace and territorial waters of Cyprus and Greece, Greek sources believe Russian strategy has broken with Russian memory, and will now side with Turkey in the expansion of its claims to the seabed oil and gas of Cyprus and around the Greek islands of the Aegean.

Eight Russian experts on Turkey, the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, employed by Moscow think-tanks, government consultancies, and the press were asked to assess this view, and also to say if they believe there is a Turkish lobby influencing Putin and the Security Council. The questions are so sensitive, however, not one agreed to respond either on or off the record.

“I find it hard to believe that the Russian ‘deep state’ relies on Turkey as a long-term ally”, a  retired Russian official and veteran of many years of policymaking with Greece, Turkey and other Black Sea states, says. “Historical memory is also there — we have many reminders.”

The Russian source adds that the Greek prime ministers have only themselves to blame for Russia’s re-calculation. “In the case of [former prime minister Alexis] Tsipras, it was easy — he was a fake, and many people suspected that from the outset. So why should Russia have tried to strike a deal with a fake that would yield nothing. With or without Russian interaction with Turkey, Tsipras would have acted in exactly same way on practically all issues: Russian-Turkish relations were just his excuse.  Nea Demokratia and the families in the Greek hereditary political establishment, such as Karamanlis or Mitsotakis, might be slightly more reliable partners than the Syriza clowns.”

“I think that Greeks are making a mistake. Early or later, Turks will come for their throat – for example, to reclaim the islands adjacent to Turkey, paying no mind to the American bases in Souda, Larissa, etc., because they know that the Americans will not intervene militarily, just as  they didn’t in the past.  It is just a matter of time. A country like Turkey can afford waiting a century or two. The Albanian expansion which the Americans endorse and EU stupidly disregards will improve Turkey’s strategic standing in the Balkans.” (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The New York State Supreme Court has ruled to dismiss Leonid Lebedev’s (lead image, right) five-year case against Victor Vekselberg (first left) and Len Blavatnik (second left) for a 15% share of their £13.8 billion sale of the TNK-BP oil company to Rosneft in 2013.    Lebedev has been suing for an award of $2.7 billion. In London he has been trying to bank on winning the payoff.  

In a 19-page ruling, issued on Tuesday at noon, Judge Saliann Scarpulla (second from right) dismissed all Lebedev’s claims for money from the 2013 Rosneft transaction. She also ordered Lebedev to pay  “costs and disbursements to defendants as taxed by the Clerk  upon the submission of an appropriate bill of costs.”  The cost of the litigation for Vekselberg and Blavatnik, which has also extended to courts in London, Ireland, Cyprus and Switzerland, is almost $20 million; Lebedev’s costs are about the same.

Lebedev fled Russia in April 2015, abandoning his Federation Council seat. At the time he feared expulsion from the Senate for lying about his foreign citizenship and assets. He was also facing a criminal investigation of embezzlement of about $240 million from a regional electricity utility, TGK-2. This he had acquired with the patronage of Anatoly Chubais, once the head of the state’s electricity holding, UES.

Lebedev found safe haven in the US and Cyprus; the former by arrangement with the US State Department; the latter from President Nikos Anastasiades and his law firm in Limassol. They arranged a Cyprus passport for Lebedev which they kept secret from the Cyprus courts just as Lebedev kept it secret from the Russian Senate.

Lebedev started his New York court case in February 2014, choosing the Manhattan branch of the state court because Vekselberg and Blavatnik had lived and conducted business in New York, and because Lebedev claimed they had negotiated their deal in a walk through Central Park in Manhattan. Lebedev alleged Vekselberg and Blavatnik had violated the terms of their original deal in 2001, and cheated him over the ensuing years. Vekselberg and Blavatnik countered that Lebedev  had been paid everything which had earlier been agreed between them; concealed his money through an Irish front company and in bank accounts in Switzerland, Cyprus, Ireland,  and New York; and then lied in the US court papers.

In Scarpulla’s ruling this week, she said Vekselberg and Blavatnik “have shown that the 2001 Investment Agreement lacks contemporaneous consideration and, consistent with Korff, Lebedev has failed to raise an issue of fact on this issue.” That’s judicial language dismissing Lebedev’s lawsuit for faking terms of the agreement which had not been agreed; and failing to prove evidence of his right to benefits. By ordering Lebedev to pay his own costs, plus Vekselberg’s and Blavatnik’s costs, Scarpulla has ruled that Lebedev never had a case to argue and fabricated his evidence from the start. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Five years of civil war have convinced most Ukrainian voters to vote for peace by negotiation and compromise with the regional governments of Donetsk and Lugansk, and with Moscow. Support for continuing the war until the eastern regions capitulate has now shrunk to the western region of Ukraine around Lviv, and among those in Kiev living off the flow of cash from the US, Canada, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Even among them, the war party is a small minority – 28% in favour in the west; 16% in the centre; compared to 13% in the east and 8% in the south. Altogether, only one in six Ukrainians (17%) now wants to fight on. Peace at any price is favoured by one in five (20%); peace on compromise terms by 49%.

 These are the new findings of countrywide surveys of Ukraine voters in June, commissioned and paid for by the Dutch Government. They confirm the results of a voter poll carried out in May for the US State Department.  

So far no Canadian, British or American newspaper or think-tank has reported on the shift in Ukrainian voter sentiment, although the country will hold its Verkhovna Rada (parliament) election on July 21. Nor have the Russian media noticed. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The US State Department, the Republican Party Institute and Igor Kolomoisky can’t all be wrong about what the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian voters is thinking – that there is a civil war in the Ukraine which cannot be won by US arms,  money, and putsches in Kiev.

The question to be decided on polling day, July 21, for the new Verkhovna Rada (parliament) is:   which side in the war, the eastern Ukraine including Odessa, or the Galicians around Lviv in the west,  will win power?

The answer already appeared in a May poll by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and in the most recent June and July voter surveys by the local Ukrainian pollster Rating. A coalition of parties whose support is strongest in eastern Ukraine will control parliament and will back the new President, Volodymyr Zelensky (lead image, left), to negotiate terms with the breakaway governments of Donetsk and Lugansk (collectively, the Donbass), and with Moscow. On these polls, the Galician parties of western Ukraine will have no national party representation in parliament, no ministers nor high-ranking officials, and just a handful of constituency seats in Lviv, Brody and Ternopil.  

Last week, the Galicians held their election rally in Toronto, where their faction is headed  by Chrystia Freeland (lead image, right), Canada’s foreign minister, with financing from the State Department through USAID, and from Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian steel oligarch, supported by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, a lobby group representing west Ukrainian refugees from the German Army’s defeat in 1945. Freeland, a Galician by origin, and Kurt Volker, a German by origin and the State Department’s Special Representative for Ukraine, gave the proceedings, entitled the Ukraine Reform Conference, an official government appearance.  So did appearances and speeches by President Zelensky and a handful of Baltic state politicians. 

But Toronto votes don’t count. If the domestic Ukrainian vote follows the current Ukrainian and US  polls, then Freeland’s Galicians will be forced to retreat,  just as her grandfather Michael Chomiak fled with the German Army as it was driven out of Ukraine and Poland by the Red Army. Chomiak ended up in Alberta, Canada. Freeland too.   After July 21, the last retreat for the Galicians is Canada. (more…)

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By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Classical music has been one of the features of Russian national identity and patriotic sentiment since the 1917 Revolution, especially among the self-professing intelligentsia of Moscow and St. Petersburg.  That meant Tchaikovsky alongside Pushkin; Shostakovich and Prokofiev beside Gorky and Sholokhov.

Even during the past twenty years, the classical music audience on Russian radio has continued to grow, while in the rest of Europe similar audiences have been dwindling. But now, after five years of war against Russia and contracting state budgets and incomes, are listeners still tuned in? Or is the audience for Russian classical music doomed because the ears are aging, then dying off; or because young ears use digital streaming instead of traditional radio?

Radio Orfei — heir to the Fourth Programme of the Soviet All-Union Radio and since 1991 the state-funded classical music broadcaster – insists its music audience is defying the trend that is eating away at BBC Radio 3, KulturRadio of Germany, and France Musique. But the commercial radio audience measurements for Moscow suggest otherwise, at least right now. They show that Radio Orfei can no longer be counted in the Top-40 of Moscow radio stations. Worse, its audience reach has slipped below one percent of the total radio audience.  By contrast, BBC 3’s audience reach is currently at four percent.

On the other hand, a new report by a London-based consultancy says digital streaming isn’t the death knell. “Despite classical music’s timeline beginning somewhere in medieval times, it feels like its time is about to arrive again,” reports Keith Jopling of Midia Research.    “While the classical music genre accounts for just five percent of the global recorded music market…classicial music is opening up, with ‘mood-based’ playlists on streaming services reaching many millions mor, often younger listeners drawn in by the music’s ability to evoke mood, emotion, or offer something truly different to the more popular genres of the day.” (more…)