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We can be judged by our own strength, but also by the relative strength of our adversaries. Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. election was also the defeat of Hillary Clinton, and all of what she represented. Last night's unprecedented announcement that embattled French President Francois Hollande would not seek a second term will no doubt offer a boost to any number of political rivals, both in Hollande's own Socialist party, as well as those on the center-right and far-right parties.

Yet those who run for office, ready to present themselves to the public as a solver of their problems and a vessel of their trust, must be aware of a weakness in the system that runs deeper than any one candidate. The obvious case in point was last June's "Brexit" vote, where British voters registered their disgust with the entire ruling class in a referendum that was proposed by the prime minister himself. We know how that ended — it sent David Cameron packing and threatened to unravel the entire European Union. Now in Italy, on Sunday, another referendum may have major consequences for the prime minister, as well as international ramifications of its own.

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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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