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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – this is how Charles Dickens opened his story of regime change in Paris during the French revolution. Also for Alexei Navalny (lead image) and his roommate in Tomsk on the evening of August 19, Maria Pevchikh of London.  

They haven’t read the rest of Dickens’ opening. “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

For incredulity, the new film by Navalny and Pevchikh is not quite up to the Dickens standard. Now presented to the world as evidence of a murder plot, their tale of the two bottles invites an epoch-load of incredulity.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The Navalny poison plot spread to Paris on Monday, compelling President Emmanuel Macron to telephone President Vladimir Putin to explain what a French chemical warfare laboratory has just done with evidence sent from Berlin by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Macron told Putin he agreed “German specialists must send to Russia the biomaterials and an official statement on the test results of the samples collected from Alexei Navalny, and must start working together with Russian doctors.” Macron also agreed “to contribute towards determining the parameters of possible interaction with European partners.” This wording of the Kremlin communiqué meant that Macron and Putin decided to discuss with German Chancellor Angela Merkel how the Chancellor can extricate herself from the Novichok fabrications they now believe were initiated by Navalny’s staff and a British agent.

The poison plot has also spread to the headquarters in The Hague of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). After days of concealing that Foreign Minister Maas had requested a technical team from OPCW to take samples in Berlin, Kai Chen, head of the OPCW’s external relations department, refused late on Monday to confirm what role the OPCW is playing in the poison plot; what evidence the OPCW has collected in Berlin; and what provisions of the OPCW charter have been invoked to legalise the OPCW’s involvement in the Navalny affair.

In London on Monday evening, a leading British organophosphate chemist and toxicologist said it was too late for the OPCW to have identified a nerve agent in Navalny’s blood or urine. “A functioning liver should hydrolyse the parent compound and then [OPCW testing would] identify the metabolites in the urine secretion. There are no cases of finding the parent compound, so maybe it is not there to be found.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

When it comes to fabrications in warfare, it was the ancient Greeks who invented the Trojan Horse. They also invented ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός – he has come down to us from the Latin, deus ex machina, meaning the god out of the machine. He’s the culprit or the cause which resolves the inexplicable ending of a story by a device which drops out of the heavens, or rises through a trapdoor on stage.

Aristotle didn’t think much of it because it’s too plainly unbelievable. The deus ex machina, he thought, was the invention of the incompetent for an audience of simpletons.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas doesn’t know his ancient Greek. He also doesn’t know his fellow Germans. They have removed him from the running to lead the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in next year’s German national election. On his road to political oblivion, Maas has needed a public platform on which to regain his footing, he thinks. According to very well-informed Berlin sources, Maas is the official responsible, behind fifteen journalists  of Der Spiegel, for fabricating the evidence of the case of Alexei Navalny (lead image, left), after he landed in Berlin.

After their first account of the Novichok poisoning of Navalny failed the standard biochemical and forensic tests, they have invented a new one.  This is “harder”, they have reported, claiming for source a secret briefing in a Berlin bunker by the BND, Germany’s secret intelligence service.

But according to leading British organophosphate chemists, the new “Novichok” is not more credible than the first. This is also the reason no details of the substance have been handed over to the Russian Prosecutor-General, presented to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), or published in the German press. Maas’s deus ex machina isn’t visible, as even the ancient Greek audience demanded.  It’s offstage, in the dark.  

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Vadim Belyaev (lead image)  is not the first Russian bank robber to take Cyprus citizenship on his way to safe haven in New York City, and then find himself facing a billion-dollar recovery lawsuit from his Russian pursuers in New York Supreme Court.  He is, however, the very first to attempt to slip into New York’s Jewish community by renaming himself Wolfson after his father. The next step will be an interview with Masha and Konstantin  (Keith) Gessen of New Yorker to explain how he’s being persecuted on trumped-up charges by President Vladimir Putin.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The trial of the crime of the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 resumed on August 31 with the demand of Amsterdam and Rotterdam lawyers for the Russian Government to pay blood money to the relatives of the 298 passengers and crew killed when the aircraft was shot down on July 17, 2014.  

Until this moment, the show trial presided over by Judge Hendrik Steenhuis, a former Dutch state tax collector and political ally of Prime Minister Mark Rutte,   had been focused on admitting Ukrainian secret service evidence of the crime and disallowing Russian evidence to the contrary.

The lawyers of the relatives have now joined the prosecution to endorse a guilty verdict in advance for the four defendants – three Russian officers, one Ukrainian – and, in order to pay for the crime, the Russian state behind them. The lawyers are proposing the judge admit into the trial  proceeding evidence by relatives, each taking fifteen minutes, ten testimonies per day over at least three weeks, to advertise the compensation claim and run up the judge’s cash register.

There is a problem, though. In almost four hours of speechmaking, the lawyers revealed that less than half the relatives have signed for the money shot – none of them from the families of the Malaysian and Indonesian passengers and crew killed. Counting the 30% lawyers’ commission, plus costs, this is entirely an operation for the Dutch to enrich themselves at the expense, they are figuring, of the Russian treasury.

There was another problem. The two Dutch lawyers engaged to represent the Russians in the trial to argue the defence of their innocence, made no objection to the victim lawyers’ pitch on the two grounds available from the Dutch code of criminal procedure – inadmissibility as to evidence, prejudice as to proof. The defence lawyers are already making money at the Russian treasury’s expense.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

There is only one certainty (zweifelsfreie Nachweis) in the case of Alexei Navalny and the traces (Spuren) which have been found in his skin, urine and blood, and in a water bottle, by the German Army’s chemical warfare laboratory in Munich.

This certainty is that, in order to believe the German and other government interpretations which have been given of the evidence to date, you have to be suffering from a severe case of brain washing. The lighter the spectrometric mass or weight of the reported Novichok spuren, the heavier the measurable wash on the brain required to believe they are evidence of a Russian state crime.

In political weight, however, Navalny in his present condition is now more valuable outside Russia than he was, or ever could have been, inside Russia when he was in full health. In the politics of next year’s German election, when Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be running, the Navalny case weighs more heavily than the Litvinenko, Magnitsky, MH17, and Skripal cases all rolled into one.  

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akhromeyev

On August 24, 1991, Marshal Sergei Fyodorovich Akhromeyev committed suicide. He had returned from his holiday at Sochi responding to the attempted removal of Mikhail Gorbachev from power. According to the reports of the time, he hanged himself in his Kremlin office, leaving behind a note. One version of what it said was: “I cannot live when my fatherland is dying and everything that has been the meaning of my life is crumbling. Age and the life that I have lived give me the right to step out of this life. I struggled until the end.”



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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Truth is the safest lie.

That’s an adage so old the ancient Hebrews have claimed it as one of their own, attributing it to their mythical wise man King Solomon. He was especially keen to condemn lying, especially lying women (they were Solomon’s big problem — 700 wives, 300 concubines, according to the Book of Kings). But the one about truth as the safest lie is Solomon’s most sophisticated, least obvious idea, cynical even.

That’s why it has stood the test of time without Solomon’s heirs having a second thought about applying it on the land, in the press, and to the people they rule. What the adage means is that in situations where lying and deception are common, even performed in the public interest – in wars, parliaments, courts, police and intelligence operations – publication of the truth won’t be believed.  That’s also when the truth-teller will be dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, enemy agent, troll, or madman. Truth then becomes the secret service’s weapon of disinformation.

Take the big lies of the moment – that President Donald Trump colluded with President Vladimir Putin to defeat Hillary Clinton; that Putin ordered the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and the nerve-agent assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal; that President Xi Jinping ordered, then covered up Chinese manufacture and release of the corona virus — no amount of evidence that these are falsehoods, nor repetition of the truth, can defeat the lies.

But liars can be defeated, a secret British court revealed this week. Well, not exactly defeated so much as interrupted or deterred.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Austria officially confirmed this week that the British Government’s allegation that Novichok, a Russian chemical warfare agent, was used in England by GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, in March 2018, was a British invention.

Investigations in Vienna by four Austrian government ministries, the BVT intelligence agency, and by Austrian prosecutors have revealed that secret OPCW reports on the blood testing of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, copies of which were transferred to the Austrian government,  did not reveal a Russian-made nerve agent.

Two reports, published in Vienna this week by the OE media group and reporter Isabelle Daniel, reveal that the Financial Times publication of the cover-page of one of the OPCW reports exposed a barcode identifying the source of the leaked documents was the Austrian government. The Austrian Foreign Ministry and the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung (BVT), the domestic intelligence agency equivalent to MI5 or FBI, have corroborated the authenticity of the documents.

The Austrian disclosures also reveal that in London the Financial Times editor, Roula Khalaf, four of the newspaper’s reporters,  and the management of the Japanese-owned company have fabricated a false and misleading version of the OPCW evidence and  have covered up British government lying on the Skripal blood testing and the Novichok evidence.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Novichok still kills.

The world’s slowest acting nerve agent, sprayed on a front door handle in a dead-end street in Salisbury, England, in the early afternoon of March 4, 2018, has just resulted in the career termination of Sir Alex Younger (lead image, right), chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The announcement was issued on Wednesday afternoon by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London.

Younger has been replaced at MI6 by Richard Moore, currently a third-ranking official of the Foreign Office, an ex-Ambassador to Turkey; an ex-MI6 agent; and a Harvard graduate.

That March day in Salisbury, when Sir Mark Sedwill (lead image, left) was in charge at the Cabinet Office and the National Security Advisor’s post, and Younger running MI6, was the greatest day for their faction of British policy towards Russia, Enemy Number One. It might have been their greatest humiliation when Sergei Skripal, one of their double agent recruits from Russian military intelligence, tried to do a runner for Moscow in a GRU exfiltration operation. Had that succeeded, Skripal would have been exposed as a triple agent, escaping with a treasure trove of secrets of British chemical warfare preparations at Porton Down, plus fresh MI6 identities and operations. Instead, Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, were paralysed by a British nerve agent, and then confined, first in hospital and at a secret location ever since.

It was, as the Duke of Wellington once said of his last battle with Napoleon at Waterloo, “a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”

The Sedwill-Younger narrative of what happened on the day; the British prosecution case against two GRU agents for the Novichok attack; and the ongoing inquest  into the cause of Dawn Sturgess’s death remain at risk of exposure. To reduce that risk and move on to a new policy towards Russia and other enemies, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief advisor Dominic Cummings have now forced Sedwill and Younger into retirement, concealing the purge and their purpose.

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