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Detail of the iconic image
Detail of the iconic image
Allan Tannenbaum

Like the entire story of his life, Nelson Mandela's release from Victor Verster Prison exactly 30 years ago helped define the 20th century. Having served 27 years for leading the opposition to South Africa's racist system of Apartheid, his release brought to an end white minority rule. Four years later, Mandela would be elected president as the nation sought to find peace and reconciliation after decades of oppression.

But it was his release on February 11, 1990 became the iconic moment marking the change. After nearly three decades behind bars between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison, the trained lawyer and activist triumphantly marched to freedom, walking hand-in-hand with his wife Winnie Mandela and surrounded by supporters.

There were many photographers on hand for the historic moment, but the best shot was captured by New York-based photographer Allan Tannenbaum. A veteran war photographer and chronicler of the New York City music scene, Tannenbaum had covered earlier uprisings in South African townships. When word came that Mandela was going to be released, the photographer got the call from his Sygma agency to cover the event. And with a steady hand and a bit of luck got the shot seen around the world.

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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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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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