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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

The Rail War: How Belarusians Are Secretly Fighting Putin And Lukashenko

It remains unclear whether Belarus' strongman Alexander Lukashenko will join Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Yet as popular support for the war remains low, many in the country are actively fighting back by sabotaging the rail network.

Photo of a railway tracks in Belarus

Railway tracks in Belarus

Anna Akage

On March 24, exactly one month after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Vitaly Melnik set fire to trackside railway electrical cabinets, resulting in massive delays for 22 freight and 17 passenger trains. Earlier this month, a regional court in Belarus convicted Melnik, a 40-year-old man from Minsk, to 13 years in a maximum security colony.

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Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Melnik had also "posted negative messages on the Internet about [Belarusian President] Alexander Lukashenko," announced the prosecutor.

On Dec. 27, three other Belarusian citizens were sentenced to prison for terms of 21 to 23 years. Their crime? Trying to prevent the transportation of military equipment to Ukraine during the early days of the Russian invasion.

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