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Ukraine Denies Pipe Sabotage, Georgia Protests, Holi Kickoff

Women throw colorful powders at each other in Howrah, India, as Holi kicks off. The popular Hindu “festival of colors,” celebrated across the Indian subcontinent
Ginevra Falciani & Laure Gautherin

👋 Hoi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine responds to a report about its involvement in the Nord Stream gas pipe sabotage in November, protests over press freedom rock Georgia's capital Tbilisi and the beginning of Holi celebrations coincide with International Women’s Day. Meanwhile, Karl De Meyer in French daily Les Echos takes us on a trip to Umeå, Sweden, a city where urbanism and feminism are words that go together well.



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• Ukraine denies link to Nord Stream blast: Ukraine has denied any involvement in September's attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, which were built to carry Russian natural gas to Germany. The denial follows a report from The New York Times, which cites anonymous U.S. intelligence officials who suggest a pro-Ukrainian group was to blame. Moscow rejected the report as a "coordinated fake news media campaign."

• Israel raid on Jenin kills 6 Palestinians: Six Palestinians have been killed and 11 others wounded in an Israeli army raid in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry says. Israel's prime minister said one of the dead had been responsible for killing two Israeli brothers last month.

• French strikes over pension reform continue: France's nationwide strike against a planned pension reform that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 continued Wednesday. For the second straight day train services were interrupted, schools were shut and fuel deliveries were halted. An estimated 1.28 million people (the highest turnout this year) took to the streets on Tuesday in demonstrations across the country. It is unclear if the strikes will continue indefinitely to shut down transport and other activities as the labor movement did over a similar pension reforms in 2019.

• Protests in Georgia: Protesters have clashed with police in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, after the Georgian Parliament backed a controversial draft law that critics say limits press freedom and suppresses civil society. Riot police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse the crowds outside the parliament building. The bill, which would require NGOs and independent media who receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to declare themselves as foreign agents, has been described as a Russian-style law and provoked widespread international condemnation.

• Deadly cyclone hits Mozambique: Cyclone Freddy, which developed off the north Australian Coast in early February, is expected to make landfall again in Mozambique later this week after it struck Madagascar for a second time on Monday. The storm first wreaked havoc in south-eastern Africa in late February, killing 21 people and displacing thousands in both countries. Meteorologists say it is rare for a storm to make such a loop. The tropical cyclone is on track to become the longest-lasting storm on record and it continues to gain strength.

• Two Americans dead after kidnapping in Mexico: Two of the four Americans kidnapped at gunpoint in Mexico on March 3 are dead and two are alive and now back in the US. The four US citizens were kidnapped while driving into the city of Matamoros in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, across the border from Texas. They had traveled there for cosmetic surgery, relatives told US media. A man from Tamaulipas has been arrested.

• Japan’s Prime Minister pledges to “work harder” to fix gender pay gap: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to “work even harder” to tackle gender inequality, including one of the world’s worst gender pay gaps, in remarks to mark International Women’s Day.


Italian daily La Stampa devotes its entire front page on International Women’s Day to “The Woman of the Future.”



In Spain, a judge of the Vélez-Málaga court has ruled that a man had to pay his ex-partner €204,000 ($215,000) "as compensation for unpaid domestic work" during their 25 years of marriage. The women filed for divorce in 2020, reports El País. Due to the separation of property regime he kept all of his assets (luxury cars, real estate, life insurance, etc.) and she only kept half of a house whose property they shared. Months after they separated, the woman filed a lawsuit claiming financial retribution for the years she has dedicated taking care of their houses and daughters rather than working to let her husband thrive professionally. The record amount was calculated by her lawyer, based on the minimum interprofessional salary for each year. The ex-husband has already declared he would not oppose the sentence.


Welcome to Umeå, the Swedish city designed by and for women

Umeå in northern Sweden is a veritable feminist city. And the initiatives go much deeper than just policies and promises — they shape how the city is built, reports Karl De Meyer in French daily Les Echos.

♀️ For years, this university town in northern Sweden has been working towards building a city truly made for women as much as men. The task is a lot more difficult than you might first imagine. In addition to ensuring safety in public spaces, the municipality also aims to correct the biases inherited from the past. Evidence of this can be found at the Women's History Museum, the first of its kind in Sweden when it was established in 2014.

🏙️ The museum is the most institutional expression of all the initiatives undertaken to adapt the city to the needs of women. One of the most striking initiatives is the tunnel opened in 2012 near the central station. It is a real shift from the dark and dirty passages that women were too often forced to use elsewhere. Its glass walls are decorated with flowers and soft melodies can be heard in the tunnel. Side exits in the middle of the corridor prevent bad encounters.

🚲 Just as significantly, the city council is seeking to feminize the names of streets and public buildings. "We're going to name a new road under construction after Anna Gronfeldt, the first woman to be elected to the city council in 1910," says Mikael Berglund, head of the city's building committee. "Another measure we have taken is that when it snows, we give priority to clearing the bicycle paths, because we know that women ride bicycles more than men," adds Berglund.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“Afghanistan under the Taliban remains the most repressive country in the world regarding women’s rights.”

— Roza Otunbayeva, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general and head of the mission to Afghanistan affirmed on the subject of International Women’s day. Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, women and girls in the country have been heavily repressed and deprived of many of their basic rights, according to a statement released by the United Nations on Wednesday.

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Laure Gautherin, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Much Does Xi Jinping Care About Putin's ICC Arrest Warrant?

After the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow for a three-day visit. How far will he be willing to go to support Putin, a fugitive from international justice?

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev

Extended meeting of Russian Interior Ministry board on Monday, March 20

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Since Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin said last year that the friendship between their nations was "boundless," the world has wondered where the limits really lie. The Chinese president's three-day visit to Russia, which began Monday, gives us an opportunity to assess.

Xi's visit is important in many ways, particularly because the International Criminal Court has just issued an arrest warrant against Putin for his role in forcibly sending thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. For Putin, there could be no better response to this international court, which he does not recognize, than to appear alongside the president of a great country, which, like Russia, is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council. How isolated can Putin really be, when the leader of 1.5 billion people in China comes to visit?

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