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Germany

Turkey's Exiled Intellectuals Find Haven In 'Little Istanbul' Of Berlin

Writers, artists, journalists and others fleeing oppression in Turkey are settling in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. But the dream is always to go back home.

View of the Kreuzberg quarter of Berlin
View of the Kreuzberg quarter of Berlin
Timo Lehmann

BERLIN — It was in January 2017. Yildiz Cakar, a Kurdish writer, had barely arrived in Berlin when she received a call from her family: the staff and members of their association for Kurdish authors were arrested in Diyarbakir, one of the most important cities for Kurds in southeastern Turkey, in a region they call Kurdistan. Yildiz Cakar had come to Berlin with nothing but hand luggage to attend a conference about literature. After the call, she feared that as soon as she would get off the plane in Turkey, she would be placed in handcuffs. "Propaganda for a terrorist organization" was the accusation. Since then, the author has been stranded in Berlin, where she's staying in the Kreuzberg refugee camp.

"I cannot write a single line here," she says. Back home, she's had several novels and hundreds of poems published. She is visibly nervous. Even in Germany, she is confronted by supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. She doesn't know whether the Turkish intelligence service is monitoring her. Her husband and her children, who are not allowed to leave Turkey, are in daily contact with her. The life of Yildiz Cakar has gone awry.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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