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food / travel

For Upcoming G7 Summit, Sicily's Sketchy Photo Is Awful PR

Bella Italia?
Bella Italia?

TAORMINA — This picturesque seaside Sicilian town has the honor to host next month's crucial G7 summit of top global leaders, which will also be the first major world gathering for newly installed U.S. President Donald Trump.

It is also a unique opportunity, as then Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pointed out last October, for the entire island of Sicily to revamp its sometimes troubled image as the birthplace of the Mafia and highlight its history as a unique cradle of civilization and high culture. Apparently someone forgot to mention that to the public relations office of the summit.

Rome-based daily La Repubblica reports Tuesday that the photograph accompanying the digital press accreditation for foreign journalists for the May 26-27 meeting features a shady-looking young man in a traditional coppola hat, with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth and a sideways look fixated on a young woman under a parasol.

"G7, controversy over photo of man with coppola (hat)"

Giovanni Ardizzone, president of the Sicilian regional assembly, called for the immediate removal of the image. "Feeding the usual stereotypes about Sicilians serves no one, especially an Italy that is looking to relaunch itself." By late Tuesday, the image had been removed.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putinism Without Putin? USSR 2.0? Clean Slate? How Kremlin Succession Will Play Out

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, political commentators have consistently returned to the question of Putin's successor. Russia expert Andreas Umland foreshadows a potentially tumultuous transition, resulting in a new power regime. Whether this is more or less democratic than the current Putinist system, is difficult to predict.

A kid holds up a sign with Putin's photograph over the Russian flag

Gathering in Moscow to congratulate Russia's President Vladimir Putin on his birthday.

Andreas Umland


STOCKHOLM — The Kremlin recently hinted that Vladimir Putin may remain as Russia's president until 2030. After the Constitution of the Russian Federation was amended in 2020, he may even extend his rule until 2036.

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However, it seems unlikely that Putin will remain in power for another decade. Too many risks have accumulated recently to count on a long gerontocratic rule for him and his entourage.

The most obvious and immediate risk factor for Putin's rule is the Russian-Ukrainian war. If Russia loses, the legitimacy of Putin and his regime will be threatened and they will likely collapse.

The rapid annexation of Crimea without hostilities in 2014 will ultimately be seen as the apex of his rule. Conversely, a protracted and bloody loss of the peninsula would be its nadir and probable demise.

Additional risk factors for the current Russian regime are related to further external challenges, for example, in the Caucasus. Other potentially dangerous factors for Putin are economic problems and their social consequences, environmental and industrial disasters, and domestic political instability.

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