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Argentina

Cristina K, YPF And Argentina's 20 Years Of Shortsighted Economics

Editorial: President Cristina Kirchner received Congressional approval this week for the Argentine government's announced takeover of YPF, an oil and gas company. The move will help pay for her government’s pricey social programs. But at what cos

La presidenta! Argentine leader Cristina Kirchner de Fernandez (Alex E. Proimos)
La presidenta! Argentine leader Cristina Kirchner de Fernandez (Alex E. Proimos)

SANTIAGO - What Argentina is doing isn't anything new. The government once closed all the banks and, for several months, prevented people from accessing their savings. Another time it decided not to pay its debts – and then complained later when no one wanted to loan Argentina any money.

The list goes on. Several years ago it began exporting natural gas to its neighbors, but then cut off supply when domestic demand rose. It cooked the books on inflation figures to trick not just the rest of the world, but the Argentine people as well. It made a show of privatizing pension funds only to turn around and exert state control over the private administrators of those funds. It privatized Aerolíneas Argentinas, before later placing it back into state hands.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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