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Watching Trump From Italy — Perils Of An American Berlusconi

Donald Trump on Nov. 24 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Donald Trump on Nov. 24 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Massimo Gramellini

TURIN — Like in a comedy that suddenly turns into tragedy, a caricature of Silvio Berlusconi may become the next president of the United States. It's not really shocking that Donald Trump would propose closing the Internet and the borders to Muslims, as Americans have grown sick and tired of President Obama's babblings and potential successors jump on any opportunity to score points with the most outlandish froth from the mouth. And no one can outdo the man with the bronze-colored mop of hair.

One suspects that Trump may be reciting his endless rosary of horrors to ultimately offend too many and conveniently be forced to end his candidacy — but has found to his own astonishment that it triggered the opposite effect instead. In normal times, a White House contender who says that "if Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?" would be consigned to oblivion for an excess of vulgarity. But today, such awful words are taken as evidence of sincerity.

As for his supposed plans for the Internet and Muslims, never mind that they are utterly unfeasible, and reveal in the man behind them an utter denial of the complexity of life. That indeed is exactly the kind of childish approach that appeals to some voters: The idea that epochal conflicts can be simplified into a joke and that the immutable rules of politics are some kind of imbroglio and a waste of time.

It all sounds familiar here. The mere fact of being a billionaire and a ladies' man entitles someone to govern those who are afraid of losing what little they have.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

War, Corruption And The Overdue Demise Of Ukrainian Oligarchs

The invasion of Russia has forced Ukraine to confront a domestic enemy: corruption and economic control by an insular and unethical elite.

Photograph of three masked demonstrators holding black smoke lights.

May 21, 2021, Ukraine: Demonstrators hold smoke bombs outside the Appeal Court of Kyiv.

Olena Khudiakova/ZUMA
Guillaume Ptak


KYIV — Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine's all-powerful oligarchs have lost a significant chunk of their wealth and political influence. However, the fight against the corruption that plagues the country is only just beginning.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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On the morning of September 2, several men wearing balaclavas and bullet-proof waistcoats bearing the initials "SBU" arrived at the door of an opulent mansion in Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth largest city. Facing them, his countenance frowning behind thin-rimmed glasses, was the owner of the house, the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

Officers from the Ukrainian security services had come to hand him a "suspicion notice" as part of an investigation into "fraud" and "money laundering". His home was searched, and shortly afterwards he was remanded in custody, with bail set at 509 million hryvnias, or more than €1.3 million. A photo of the operation published that very morning by the security services was widely shared on social networks and then picked up by various media outlets.

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