[*Igbo - Nigeria]
How Putin reads Tolstoy: The case for a hard line against Russian culture
From ballet to opera to classic literature, Russia has turned its culture into an instrument for its own expansion. The West must fight back, Ukraine's culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko writes in an op-ed in German daily Die Welt. It's time to stop supporting Russian artists and seek out Ukrainians instead.
At first glance, it seems only a small administrative act: on Jan. 25, Vladimir Putin changed the mission of his country's state cultural policy. Its task now includes "protecting society from external ideological expansion."
Behind this change lies the idea that there are "unfriendly states involved in activities aimed at undermining the cultural sovereignty of the Russian Federation." What is at stake is nothing less than the "protection of historical truth."
Culture is thus a tool and even a weapon in the hands of the state. Russia actively uses it to promote its interests — from making Russian ballet and other symbols of Russian culture (Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Piotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich) popular, to protecting the rights of Russian speakers abroad.
It is time to do something about this.
Unfortunately, most European countries have still not understood that violence is the basis of the Russian ideological value system — and that culture is an instrument to enforce this ideology. [...]
— Read the full Die Welt article by Oleksandr Tkachenko, translated into English by Worldcrunch.
• Donald Trump indicted: Former U.S. President Donald Trump, and frontrunner to be the Republican nominee in 2024, has been indicted after a probe into hush money paid to a pornstar. Trump’s expected appearance in court next week in Manhattan before a judge will be the first time a former president faces criminal charges. Trump declared his innocence in a written statement, with his signature capital letters, accusing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Democratic politicians of: “Political Persecution and Election Interference.”
• One-year anniversary of the liberation of Bucha: Ukraine on Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the liberation of Bucha, the town north of Kyiv that has become a symbol of Russian atrocities and alleged war crimes. Bucha was occupied by Russia for 33 days and according to the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office, around 700 people died in the town and around 1,400 in the Bucha district overall.
• Turkey approves Finland NATO membership bid: Turkey’s parliament has approved Finland’s request to become NATO’s 31st member. This comes after months of Turkey delaying Finland’s bid complaining the Nordic nation was supporting "terrorists". Sweden, which applied to join Nato at the same time last May, is still being blocked by Ankara over similar complaints.
• At least 35 killed in well collapse in India: At least 35 people have been killed in central India after the collapse of a temple well. The incident occurred as people gathered Thursday at a temple in Indore in Madhya Pradesh state to celebrate the Hindu festival of Ram Navami.
• Virgin Orbit lays off 85% of its staff: British billionaire Sir Richard Branson's rocket company Virgin Orbit says it will lay off 85% of staff after failing to secure new investment. The firm will also cease operations for the coming future. This comes weeks after the company paused operations in an apparent attempt to shore up its finances.
• Elon Musk plans a trip to China: Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk is making plans to visit China next month, seeking a meeting with China's Premier Li Qiang. China is Tesla's second-largest market after the United States and its Shanghai plant is the electric carmaker's largest production hub.
• Paltrow cleared of fault over ski crash: A civil jury found Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow was not liable for a 2016 ski crash at a resort in the U.S. state of Utah. Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, had said the actress had crashed into him, inflicting life-changing injuries. Sanderson, who was seeking $300,000 in damages, said Thursday's verdict was "very disappointing". Jurors sided with Paltrow, who blamed Sanderson for the accident and countersued for $1 plus legal fees.
Bogota-based daily El Espectador is one of many global newspapers with Donald Trump on the front page, following the news of the first ever indictment of a sitting or former U.S. president, in the case of his alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
$3.5 million is the price the Colombian government would have to pay for relocating 70 “cocaine hippos” belonging to drug trafficker Pablo Escobar’s private menagerie. This represents part of a deal the local Antioquia government signed with the Colombian Agricultural Institute, the Colombian Air Force and the Ostok Sanctuary in Mexico, where 10 of the hippos will be kept. The remaining 60 will find sanctuary in India.
In Nicaragua, a tour of nightlife under dictatorship
Nicaraguan publication Divergentes takes a night tour of entertainment spots popular with locals in Managua, the country's capital, to see how dictatorship and emigration have affected nightlife.
🎸🚫 In clubs like El Gara, the Embassy, and the Pipas, the music is blasted at full volume, even if they are not full. At Ron Kon Rolas, rock music is played at a volume that allows those who are there to talk to each other with less effort, while drinking beers. Here, until a few months ago, concerts were organized by Nicaraguan rock bands, many of which played songs protesting the Sandinista regime. This ended in April 2022 when security forces raided a number of musicians, who have since gone into exile.
🎶 “Every weekend we are packed,” says Tadeo, the manager of a well-known club in the capital. He is no stranger to the reality of the country. He is aware of the massive emigration of Nicaraguans and the repression unleashed by the Sandinista dictatorship against those who oppose the regime. For Tadeo, the party is not synonymous with normalization, or disinterest. On the contrary, it is “therapy” for those still left in the country.
🇳🇮 During our tour, we saw some bars in the Managua neighborhood of Bello Horizonte that were empty except for servers, and others with very few customers. Although consumption continues to decline in businesses like Joaquín’s, he says he is still not looking at leaving the country. “After the 2018 crisis and unrest, the pandemic and the current political situation in the country, I acquired an enormous capacity for serenity and self-control — and also creativity to get ahead.”
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
“Welcome to NATO.”
— As Turkey’s parliament ratified Finland’s application to join NATO (one of the last steps for the Nordic country to be part of the Western military alliance), Akif Cagatay Kilic, a legislator from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing party, told parliament: “I’m aware that there is a large number of people watching us from Finland. [...] We can say to them: ‘Welcome to NATO.’”
Rescue operations under way after the well covering at a temple in Indore, in central India, collapsed, killing at least 35. — Photo: Javed Dar/Xinhua/ZUMA
✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Inès Mermat, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger