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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

“I give you the floor”, Judge Hendrik Steenhuis announced to Prosecutor Thjs Berger, as he opened  the June 10 session of the MH17 murder trial, the sixth day of the hearing at the Schiphol Judicial Complex in The Netherlands.  The judge was referring to a court of law, not a stage show. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Berger began, certain it was a show he was opening. By the conclusion of his and Prosecutor Ward Ferdinandusse’s presentations, it was clear the show the Dutch are putting on in Amsterdam has been scripted entirely in Kiev.  

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

June 12 marks the anniversary of Boris Yeltsin’s election as President of Russia.

It is no moment for celebration.

The government which he led successfully over the attempted putsch of last August and through the disintegration of the Soviet Union now lacks credible authority in the Russian federation and among its people.

There is no agreement on a constitution to hold the federation together, or to divide the power granted by Russian votes for
president and parliament.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

A Dutch Government prosecutor has told the court trying charges of murder against the Russian state, three Russian soldiers and a Ukrainian in the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that satellite images were requested from the US, Russia and China. The Russian reply, announced yesterday in court by prosecutor Thijs Berger, was that the Russian satellite images were “not stored”. The Chinese reply, he added, was that there had been a Chinese satellite above eastern Ukraine at the time of the MH17 downing, but it was “not operational”. All three governments – the US, Russia, and China – refused to provide satellite images.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

High British Government officials, security insiders, and employees of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in London  confirmed this week that Sergei (lead image, left) and Yulia Skripal (right) are under tight guard, constant surveillance, cut off from their family without limit of time, in isolation and incommunicado. This is not prison, the British say – it is New Zealand.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, says the Skripals are not in New Zealand. Ardern is running for re-election in the poll due in three months’ time on September 19;  according to the current polls, she is the most popular leader of the country in a hundred years.  Doing favours for the British secret services and telling lies about it are risks Ardern doesn’t need to run to secure votes.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The foundation stone of the Dutch prosecution of the Russian state, three Russian soldiers and a Ukrainian from Donbass for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is the US satellite imagery of the missile launch, trajectory, and detonation. The US Government publicly laid this foundation within hours of the incident, on July 17, 2014, following the destruction of the 298 people on board.

If the satellite images are not presented in the trial, which began hearings again this week, the prosecution case fails, either because the US refuses to declassify and release the images,  or because they don’t exist. If it can be proved that the US has lied about the satellite evidence, and that Dutch prosecutors are repeating this lie in court, then the defence will have the foundation for summary dismissal of the charges.

On March 23, the presiding judge Hendrik Steenhuis issued an order for the prosecution to produce in court the US satellite images. This week, on June 8, Steenhuis announced the prosecution had responded with a memorandum prepared by another Dutch prosecutor interpreting the satellite images but without revealing them. “The American authorities informed us that they cannot provide any additional information regarding the launch of the missile… and the court understands from this that no further information is to be added to the file as a result.”

The judge did not say this is a violation of his disclosure order. The defence lawyers have not announced the evidence is hearsay, unverifiable, and inadmissible in a court of law. Neither the defence lawyers nor Steenhuis himself have charged the prosecution with contempt of court.  The prosecution lawyers, who are continuing this week with an outline of their case, are preparing to repeat the US lie.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Dr James Haslam (lead image) was the doctor in charge at Radnor Ward, the intensive care unit of Salisbury District Hospital, when Dawn Sturgess was admitted on June 30, 2018, and died on July 8. She is  the woman whom the British Prime Minister, Metropolian Police, Crown Prosecution Service,  and Wiltshire county coroner David Ridley, have all declared  to have died from poisoning by a Russian-made nerve agenct called Novichok. This, they all say, was  brought to the UK by Russian soldiers who have been named and officially charged, not with killing Sturgess, but with trying to kill Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and leaving behind their weapon, a counterfeit bottle of perfume, where Sturgess and her companion found it several weeks later.

Haslam is so important to the story of this Russian weapon,  which hadn’t existed until Sturgess  used it on her herself and then died from it, that the state British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) assigned Haslam a part in each of the three episodes of the film called “The Salisbury Posionings”. Haslam is the only doctor from the intensive care unit treating the Skripals and Sturgess who is depicted in the BBC drama. The film will be broadcast next week.

Haslam himself claims he “led the team who cared for the critically ill patients during the Salisbury Nerve Agent Incident.”   A committed Christian, Haslam also gives public lectures on “how his faith and interests in challenging medicine and ethics played a role at the centre of this major incident.”

Before the make-believe Haslam does what the BBC scripted him to do in the movie, Haslam prepared a research report for his medical colleagues entitled “Organophosphorus nerve agent poisoning: managing the poisoned patient.” It was published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia,  on April 5, 2019, with three co-authors. These three are military agents – one from the Royal Navy working on a Defence Ministry grant; one from the Ministry’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the chemical warfare establishment at Porton Down; and one from the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, an armed forces hospital in Birmingham. Discovered by Liane Theuer, the report can be read here.

Haslam was the only civilian; they wrote the report together. It was then reviewed by a Navy surgeon commander before “all authors approved the manuscript”. Together, they wrote that at Salisbury Hospital between the admission of the Skripals on March 4, 2018,  and of Dawn Sturgess and Charles Rowley on June 30, “at least six patients may have had varying degrees of exposure [to Novichok poisonings]”.

“May have had” does not mean what the British Prime Minister, Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Coroner Ridley, and the BBC  had all concluded a year before this was published.

This week Haslam was asked to explain why he wasn’t sure about the Novichok poison a year ago, and whether he still isn’t sure. He was contacted by telephone and by email.  He refuses to answer.

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By Stanislas Balcerac, Warsaw, translated from Polish with illustrations by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven (lead image, right), a former deputy head of the German intelligence agency BND, and more recently the NATO intelligence chief, a newly created post, is now to take over as the new German ambassador in Poland.

This is a strange nomination, is it not, when ex- intelligence bosses are being despatched to run the German legation in a friendly, allied state?

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Russian pictures for which the owners paid millions of pounds or dollars aren’t put up for sale, and buyers won’t pay that much money in the London auction houses if the auction rooms have been closed and are likely to stay that way for the rest of the year. But this week the Russian art market is showing unexpected strength of demand, nonetheless.

Online auctions by Sotheby’s and MacDougall’s have revealed that bidders pushed prices for the best paintings and best-known painters well above their pre-sale estimates. Roughly the same proportion of pictures was sold from the catalogue as the auctioneers managed at Russian Art Week in London last November. Still, the number of lots on offer is down, as is the number of big-ticket paintings.

The auctioneers themselves say the reason for the positive trend is that fresh, young bidders  have come into the market for Russian art. They aren’t investors looking for speculative profit margins or safe haven for money on the run from bank fraud and other stealing schemes. The Russian art market is also becoming more competitive on the selling side, as new online internet platforms are expanding the number of Russian artists, especially those living outside Moscow and St. Petersburg, whose work can now reach an international audience and greater appreciation.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The Wiltshire county coroner investigating British Government allegations that Russian military agents using a Russian-made poison called Novichok caused the death of a woman, Dawn Sturgess, on July 8, 2018, has lied in his report of the inquest into her death.  

This has been revealed by evidence gathered by the Wiltshire police two years ago, and recovered this week.

Senior Coroner David Ridley (lead image, right) has also concealed evidence from the coroner’s court inquest file and withheld it from the Russian Government after promising “to assist with the Russian Federation’s investigation of Ms Sturgess’ death…if the Russian Federation were to be supplied with a copy of the coronial investigation file which focuses on Ms Sturgess’ death.”

Asked to respond to the police evidence and to say if he had passed the file to the Russian Government, Ridley refused to say. “You are not an Interested Person as defined by S47 Coroners and Justice Act  2009 [ click for link ], and therefore [Ridley] will not be responding to your e-mails or correspondence.” But last December Ridley published a ruling identifying two Russians – the alleged Novichok assassins – as “Interested Persons”, declaring “the same disclosure material…will be provided to all Interested Persons including Messrs Petrov and Boshirov.”

Ridley did not provide the “disclosure material”, according to the Russian Embassy in London.

The reason for Ridley’s cover-up is that the “disclosure material” in the “coronial investigation file” includes Wiltshire police evidence, together with blood and toxicology tests from Salisbury District Hospital; these show Sturgess had taken illegal drugs, the contamination of which caused her death. The Wiltshire police and hospital medical reports were dated more than a week before the authorities claim to have discovered Novichok on the kitchen table at the apartment where Sturgess fell mortally ill.

The initial police evidence and Coroner Ridley’s later lying about it indicate the British secret services used Sturgess’s corpse to find the weapon missing from their earlier story of the March 4, 2018, attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal. The Skripals have not been permitted to testify what happened to them; they are being held incommunicado and in secret without access to family, lawyers, the Russian Embassy, or the press.

The police revelations come on the eve of the broadcast by the state British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of a three-part series called “The Salisbury Poisonings”. This will go to air on June 14, 15, and 16. According to BBC advertising, the film “captures the bravery, resilience and, in some cases, personal tragedy of the unsuspecting locals, who faced a situation of unimaginable horror so close to home.” Coroner Ridley is not shown in the film as playing either an unsuspecting or a brave role.   

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

President Donald Trump telephoned President Vladimir Putin on Monday afternoon, Moscow time, to confirm he is inviting Russia to re-join the G7 summit conference at the next scheduled meeting of the group in the US.

Trump had mentioned his idea of holding a face-to-face meeting of heads of government of Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the UK and Canada on May 20, when he tweeted: “Now that our Country is ‘Transitioning back to Greatness’, I am considering rescheduling the G-7, on the same or similar date, in Washington, D.C., at the legendary Camp David. The other members are also beginning their COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all – normalization!” Trump then spoke of a date  in late June in a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on May 28. Macron agreed to the face-to-face format and to the tentative time.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea, announcing through a spokesman, Steffen Seibert, on May 30: “The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit in Washington at the end of June in Washington.   As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to  Washington.” The spokesman added an irony. “She will of course continue to monitor the development of the pandemic.”

Stung by Merkel, Trump told US reporters on May 31 he would postpone the G7 meeting until at least September,  and is considering the inclusion of four additional countries to the summit: Russia, Australia, India and South Korea. “I’m postponing it because I don’t feel as a G7 it probably represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries.”

On Monday Trump telephoned the Kremlin. The text of the conversation of the call has been leaked.

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