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France's top business daily, Les Echos covers domestic and international economic, financial and markets news. Founded in 1908, the newspaper has been the property of French luxury good conglomerate LVMH (Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) since 2007.
Dough is run through a press to make pasta
Karl De Meyer et Olivier Tosseri

Italy's Right-Wing Government Turns Up The Heat On 'Gastronationalism'

Rome has been strongly opposed to synthetic foods, insect-based flours and health warnings on alcohol, and aggressive lobbying by Giorgia Meloni's right-wing government against nutritional labeling has prompted accusations in Brussels of "gastronationalism."

ROME — On March 23, the Italian Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Francesco Lollobrigida, announced that Rome would ask UNESCO to recognize Italian cuisine as a piece of intangible cultural heritage.

On March 28, Lollobrigida, who is also Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's brother-in-law, promised that Italy would ban the production, import and marketing of food made in labs, especially artificial meat — despite the fact that there is still no official request to market it in Europe.

Days later, Italian Eurodeputy Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of fascist leader Benito Mussolini and member of the Forza Italia party, which is part of the governing coalition in Rome, caused a sensation in the European Parliament. On the sidelines of the plenary session, Sophia Loren's niece organized a wine tasting, under the slogan "In Vino Veritas," to show her strong opposition (and that of her government) to an Irish proposal to put health warnings on alcohol bottles. At the end of the press conference, around 11am, she showed her determination by drinking from the neck of a bottle of wine, to great applause.

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After Belgorod: Does The Russian Opposition Have A Path To Push Out Putin?
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

After Belgorod: Does The Russian Opposition Have A Path To Push Out Putin?

The month of May has seen a brazen drone attack on the Kremlin and a major incursion by Russian rebels across the border war into the Russian region of Belgorod. Could this lead to Russians pushing Vladimir Putin out of power? Or all-out civil war?


We may soon mark May 22 as the day the Ukrainian war added a Russian front to the military battle maps. Two far-right Russian units fighting on the side of Ukraine entered the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation, riding on tanks and quickly crossing the border to seize Russian military equipment and take over checkpoints.

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This was not the first raid, but it was by far the longest and most successful, before the units were eventually forced to pass back into Ukrainian territory. The Russian Defense Ministry’s delay in reacting and repelling the incursion demonstrated its inability to seal the border and protect its citizens.

The broader Russian opposition — both inside the country and in exile — are actively discussing the Belgorod events and trying to gauge how it will affect the situation in the country. Will such raids become a regular occurrence? Will they grow more ambitious, lasting longer and striking deeper inside Russian territory? Or are these the first flare-ups at the outset of a coming civil war? And, of course, what fate awaits Vladimir Putin?

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Morjim village, North Goa, India
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Clément Perruche

Goa Postcard: How Draft Dodgers And Pro-Putin Russians Both Landed On India's Scenic Coast

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, many Russians ordered to the front have fled to India’s scenic west coast. They enjoy sandy beaches, sun and a cheap life, but relations with pro-war Russians who have long settled there regularly disturb the peace.

MORJIM — From his terrace, in the shade of the coconut trees, Ivan* contemplates the Chapora river, which flows into the Arabian Sea just 100 or so meters away. Five months ago, this 42-year-old Muscovite set up home in Morjim, in the state of Goa, India.

He arrived in October, a few weeks after the mobilization decreed on Sept. 21 2022 by Vladimir Putin, when 300,000 fighting-age men were summoned to the army.

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“You can’t go back to a normal life after going to war. I wasn’t expecting them to call people like me to the front, so I left before they could send me,” Ivan says, his wide and sad blue eyes framed by the thick, tropical vegetation surrounding his house.

After the September draft, between 700,000 and one million panicked Russians fled, mainly to Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Dubai and countries in Central Asia. It was easier to get to Eurasian Economic Union countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan), which did not require a visa for three-month stays.

The mobilization was announced on a Wednesday. By Saturday, Ivan had landed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. “The city was literally invaded by Russians. Finding a hotel was very complicated. Owners were kicking out Kyrgyz clients from their room to rent them to Russians fleeing the war for twice the price,” he remembers. “I was very scared. I had no idea what I was going to do next.”

After two weeks in Kyrgyzstan, Ivan bought a one-way ticket to India. The number of Russians exiled in Goa is not comparable to the 150,000 Russians who settled in Istanbul, nor with the 100,000 in Tbilisi, Georgia. But there are now at least a few thousand who have settled in the Indian tropics.

Fine sandy beaches

“I didn’t know anyone here. But I knew there was a strong Russian community,” says Ivan.

This divorced father got all of the information necessary for his move from Telegram, an encrypted messaging app popular with Russians at home and abroad. It's a vital source of information for many. Settling in India can be a real challenge, especially for those who don't speak English well, or at all, as is the case for many of these expatriates.

Compared to other destinations, Goa has many advantages.

“Some were reluctant to come to India. Many think it’s a wild and dirty country," says Ivan, who now occupies a room in a guesthouse owned by an Indian family who live on the ground floor, and to whom he pays 20,000 rupees a month, or a little over €200.

Compared to other destinations, Goa has many advantages. With its luxuriant vegetation and fine sandy beaches, the region offers an idyllic setting. The temperature is pleasant year-long, and life is cheaper than in Thailand, Sri Lanka or Bali.

Goa has also been a favored vacation spot for Russian tourists since the beginning of the 2000s. Before the pandemic, around 100,000 Russians swarmed the beaches during each season.

Unthinkable freedom

The Russian community gathered on the State’s northern coast, particularly in Morjim, which gained the nickname of Morjimograd. Here, in the neighboring cities of Mandrem and Arambol, some restaurants display menus written only in Cyrillic, and most Indian waiters for the beach huts know basic Russian.

In the main street of Arambol, posters promote the “Goa Orthodox Family,” a group of believers hoping to recruit passing Russians to celebrate their faith in the tropics. It is even possible to go to the banya, the traditional Russian bath, despite the 33-degree heat.

The existence of this strong tropical Russian community makes Goa a familiar destination for exiles. They can recreate a social circle quickly, without facing the hostility of the local population, as is often the case in Georgia. There, the unprecedented flood of Russians after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine stirred up hostile reactions in the small Caucasian country of 3.7 million, many still traumatized by the 2008 Russian invasion. The Indian population, on the other hand, is largely indifferent to the war. Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has never explicitly condemned it, afraid of offending his long-standing ally.

In Goa, Russians enjoy a certain freedom, unthinkable in their own country.

In Goa, Russians enjoy a certain freedom, unthinkable in their own country. Smoking a joint while riding a motorbike without a helmet ? Not a problem — at least not on the small roads. Goa has always been a permissive state, popular for its wild parties and easy access to drugs. During the high season, between November and April, young Indians and tourists from all over the world flock to the beaches to dance to Goa Trance, electronic music throbbing at 160 decibels, born of the meeting between local hippies and English DJs of the Acid House wave of the end of the 80s.

photo of water coming into the shore.

Morjim beaches attract people from around the world


Living like the hippies

According to official statistics, tourism is responsible for more than 16% of the state’s GDP. This source of income is vital for the families of the region: 35% depend directly on jobs related to tourism. Travelers come for the beaches, the parties and to discover the region's heritage.

Goa was a Portuguese territory from 1501 to 1961, when the Indian army seized control of the region after a lightning attack. Baroque, whitewashed churches testify to the presence of the Portuguese. Goa also attracts celebrities: Mick Jagger has been seen basking on a beach in Ashvem, where his daughter, Jade, owns a jewelry shop.

In the 1960s, hippy communities settled on the coast. Some Russians try to carry on this original spirit by living like the first beatniks. In the jungle overlooking Arambol beach, some Russians, not very talkative, live like marginals, on the fringe of the outside world. Some sleep in shelters made of odds and ends. Others doze off in hammocks. It’s hard to tell if these men are fleeing the war, or society as a whole. “We don’t talk about politics,” answers one, apparently shocked by our presence, in front of ancient cans scattered around a dying fire.

The fact remains that Indian authorities look on this community with a favorable eye, as it supports the numerous villages along the North coast. The Immigration department quickly grants them electronic visas, which Russians receive within three days.

Remote working

Ivan has gotten used to the Goan life. His ex-wife, who first stayed in Moscow, joined him a few weeks ago with their 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. She now lives in a nearby guesthouse. Thanks to his work as a UX designer for a Russian online education company, Ivan can work remotely and keep receiving his salary. But the situation is getting complicated: the exiles are in the sights of the Russian government, which is asking companies to reduce remote work, aiming to cut off the livelihood of people like Ivan.

“My mom told me: leave fast!"

Many Russian expatriates in Goa work in information technology. In the cafes of Arambol, it’s easy to spot them: Bluetooth headsets on, they type lines of codes while sipping lattes, dressed in flowery tank tops, shorts and flip-flops. Some have joints in their ashtrays. A scooter, an essential accessory to get to the beach at the end of the day, is never far away. These digital workers are overrepresented among the exiled Russians, because their activity is compatible with remote working. At the end of December, Russian authorities announced that 100,000 tech workers had left the country in 2022, which is around 10% of the sector’s workforce. This brain drain is starting to worry Moscow.

Serguei*, 36, is one of the new technology workers. A freelance developer for Russian companies, he also left when the army came knocking on his door on Sept. 22, 2022. “My mom told me: leave fast!" says the young man from Astrakhan, near the Caspian sea.

In Sept. 2023, he drove to Kazakhstan, just 90 minutes away. So many people were fleeing that he was stuck in traffic for 24 hours before going through the border. “Some left on a bike to get there faster," he says. With brown curls escaping from his colorful bandana, his goatee and psychedelic glasses, it feels like we’re face to face with the eccentric photographer played by Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. “It’s not possible to build a life in Russia," says the digital neo-hippie, who is now living in Arambol. “For me, it’s unacceptable to go and kill Ukrainian people, who are our brothers. What have they done to be killed?” he says angrily.

Morjim, Goa Main Road

Sign of a Russian restaurant in Morjim, Goa Main Road.

Joegoauk Goa / Flickr

“F*ck Putin” signs

Goa seems far from the war. And yet, the war in Ukraine has disturbed the tropical carefreeness of Morjim, because the area also counts numerous pro-Putin Russians, who look down on those who fled Russia to escape the mobilization.

“They’re traitors,” says Ioulia Petrova, a 40-year-old from Moscow, who manages a tourism company in Goa. “The new generation is very different from the one born under the Soviet Union. They have no respect for their homeland. They demand a lot of things, but they are not ready to sacrifice their life for their country.” Every morning, Diana, one of her friends, prays for her “beloved president," Vladimir Putin.

We are meeting with the two friends at Jardin d’Ulysse, a Boho-chic restaurant on the seashore of Morjim. Ioulia recalls the dinners organized with her Ukrainian friends passing through Goa in this private establishment, which is popular among Russian clients. That time is over: she fell out with most of them.

Some Russians live in a parallel reality.

“They call us the zombies,” says Ioulia, who only spends time with friends who share her political convictions. Talking with her means confronting the Kremlin’s propaganda, of which she has mastered all the mendacious rhetoric. It’s not Russia that invaded Ukraine, but Ukraine that invaded Russia, with the help of the Americans, she claims. “By the way, Ukraine has never been a country,” she adds. In Morjim, she doesn’t hide her pro-Kremlin positions. Since then, opponents to the Russian president have taunted her. One morning, she found a Ukrainian flag drawn on her car.

“Some Russians living in Goa live in a parallel reality. They’re convinced that there’s a worldwide plot against Russia," explains Illarion Chevtchenko, the impassive owner of Café Sho in Mandrem. Rare are the Putin supporters who cross the door of his restaurant, where you can enjoy Russian and Ukrainian specialties. And for good reason: settled in Goa for three years, Illarion is Ukrainian.

Originally from Dnipro, he wanted to go back to fight, but “there are so many volunteers that the army is turning down applications. So I try to help my family from Goa by sending them money,” says the clear-eyed, strapping lad. The pro-Putin have to be satisfied with the Bora-Bora, another popular cafe-restaurant in Morjim, whose owners don’t hide their support for the Russian president. Before the war, everyone mingled willingly, but now, everyone knows which restaurant to frequent, according to their political orientation. Gilbert, the manager of Jardin d’Ulysse, ensures that he stays neutral, afraid to alienate some of his customers, who are 90% Russian.

No way home

After the start of the war, a protest was organized on the beach of Arambol. Around 100 Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians and Europeans gathered, waving Ukrainian flags and signs and shouting “F*ck Putin!” Denis Chernenko, a Russian of Ukrainian origins living in India for several years, was one of the organizers. “We could not plan a protest like this anymore; it could go south,” says Chernenko.

If we organized a demonstration, they might attack us.

A few weeks ago, he was harassed in a store by pro-Putin Russians who had seen him at the demonstration. These past few months, the beach of Arambol has also seen the first Russian soldiers coming back from the Ukrainian front. “There are some right now. The government pays for their vacation in Goa. If we organized a demonstration, they might attack us,” says Denis.

Like him, many Russians who have been living in Goa for years are stuck. It's impossible to go back to their country, and the anti-war messages posted on their social media are punishable by several years in prison. Before the war, these nomads would go back to Russia during the monsoon, between June and October. It was an occasion to see their family, but also to replenish their money before leaving again. They now need to find alternatives. To fund his life in Goa, Denis offers consultations in Indian astrology, for which he charges more than €130 per session.

Sitting at the Café Sho, Daria Pavlenko, 24, also said goodbye to Russia. When the war broke out, the young woman was on holiday in Goa. After a round trip to Moscow to pack her belongings and tie up loose ends, she left Russia for good. “I don’t want to go back. At least not as long as Putin is alive. Can you imagine? All my life I’ve only known one president. I don’t want to be forced to accept propaganda and to have my taxes fund this horrible war.”

Recently, she opened a YouTube channel where she posts videos of her life in India. This allowed her to build a community of several thousands followers, who send her money during the streaming sessions she holds from her apartment. Thanks to these few hundred euros, Daria is able to meet her needs. Her father, who has a Moldovan passport, helped her get one too, which allows her to travel more freely. In a few days, she will fly to Berlin.

The start of the monsoon, in June, will push other Russians to leave. Ivan is thinking about going to Vietnam or Bali. Sergueï plans to go to Kazakhstan. We will have to wait until November and the arrival of the dry season to see these exiled from the cold come back.

*Names have been modified

U.S.-China-Global South: The New Geometry Of Our "Tripolar" World
Dominique Moïsi

U.S.-China-Global South: The New Geometry Of Our "Tripolar" World

Approaching the world as a simple opposition between East and West falls short. An emerging "tripolar" geopolitics requires we establish new ways of thinking and managing both conflict and opportunity.


PARIS — Has the world become tripolar?

Is there a reformulation of the “classic” confrontation between a Global West and a Global East, happening under the watch of a Global South that does not support Russia's aggression against Ukraine but simultaneously expresses its reservations against the Western world?

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Of course, this new tripolar order is asymmetrical, to say the least. The Global South is infinitely more diverse in its composition than the Global West and East can be. But we can no longer be satisfied with thinking of the world in terms of bipolarity between the U.S. and China. And Europe is far from having become an independent actor within the multipolar world.

In the tripolar world that is revealing itself, each pole obeys its own rules and expresses a specific kind of emotion.

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Alexandroupoli, How The Ukraine War Made This Sleepy Greek Port A Geopolitical Hub
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Basile Dekonink

Alexandroupoli, How The Ukraine War Made This Sleepy Greek Port A Geopolitical Hub

Once neglected, this small port in Thrace, northeastern Greece, has become a strategic hub for transporting men and arms to the shores of the Black Sea. Propelled by ambitious infrastructure and gas projects, the region dreams of becoming an alternative to the Bosphorus strait.

ALEXANDROUPOLI — Looks like there's a traffic jam in the port of Alexandroupoli.

Lined up in tight rows on the quay reserved for military activities, hundreds of vehicles — mostly light armored vehicles — are piled up under the sun. Moored at the pier, the "USNS Brittin," an impressive 290-meter roll-off cargo ship flying the flag of the U.S. Navy, is about to set sail. But what is all this gear doing in this remote corner of the sea in Thrace, in the far northeast of Greece?

Of all the geopolitical upheavals caused by the Russian offensive of Feb. 24 2022, Alexandroupoli is perhaps the most surprising. Once isolated and neglected, this modest port in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly known for its maritime connection to the nearby island of Samothrace, is being revived.

Diplomats of all kinds are flocking there, investors are pouring in, and above all, military ships are arriving at increasingly regular intervals. The capital of the province of Evros has become, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, a hub for transporting arms and men to the shores of the Black Sea.

“If you look north from Alexandroupoli, along the Evros River, you can see a corridor. A corridor for trade, for the transport of goods and people to the heart of the Balkans and, a little further, to Ukraine," explains the port's CEO, Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou, from his office right on the docks. According to him, the sudden interest in this small town of 70,000 inhabitants is explained by "geography, geography, and… geography.”

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A man uses chopsticks to hold some pasta above a bowl
food / travel
Anaïs Moutot

Simple Takeout To Hipster Fusion: Chinese Cuisine In Paris Gets Chic

Forget about Cantonese fried rice and spring rolls, new-look Chinese restaurants have been multiplying in Paris. They attract French people with increasingly diverse tastes… and a growing number of Chinese tourists.

PARIS — “It's a spicy pot that numbs the palate, with an explosion of flavors and a euphoric 'come-hither' taste.” Patrick El Khoury's eyes light up when he talks about málà xiāngguō, the dish he boasts of being the first to serve in France at his restaurant in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, which opened last June.

“It's not well known in Europe, but it's become very popular in China over the past 15-20 years. In one bowl, you choose the veggie elements, in another the meat, then you pay by weight and indicate your level of spiciness,” explains the Lebanese chef, who fell in love with this dish during his exchange year in Beijing when he was a student at the HEC school of business.

After becoming a consultant in Paris, he started to look for this dish in every European capital where he was sent for business. But he did not find it. He then decided to leave his company, went to China to learn more, then enrolled in one of the schools of French chef Thierry Marx. He organized big dinner parties at home to let people taste different versions of the málà sauce, the base of this dish, made of fermented black beans, and an oil infused with ten spices: red and green Sichuan berries, cloves, star anise, orange peels, and more.

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Photo of former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Tayyip Erdogan at the European
Vincent Collen

If Erdogan Loses, Will Turkey Revive Its Bid For EU Membership?

An opposition victory in the elections would be good news for the currently disastrous relations between Ankara and the European Union. But the 27 EU members may not yet be ready to consider Turkey's integration into the EU.

BRUSSELS — In the seat of the EU, and in other European capitals, leaders are eagerly awaiting the results of the Turkish presidential elections — hoping for a victory of the opposition.

Still, all remain cautious about the prospect of the end of the longtime reign of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Whether Erdogan retains power or the opposition wins, this will not radically change relations between Turkey and the European Union, at least initially," says Benjamin Couteau, a researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute.

A win for the opposition led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu would undoubtedly improve relations between Ankara and the EU, which have become atrocious since Erdogan's authoritarian turn.

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Why Sudan's Conflict Makes The Gulf Monarchies So Nervous
Laura-Maï Gaveriaux

Why Sudan's Conflict Makes The Gulf Monarchies So Nervous

Located on the shore of the Red Sea, rich in natural resources, Sudan is strategically important to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Worried about a conflict that is getting bogged down, Arab capitals are mobilizing behind the scenes, with initial "pre-negotiation" talks beginning Saturday in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

DUBAI – The war of the Sudanese generals has both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi worried — and there is no sign that the crisis in Sudan will end soon.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia was hosting the first face-to-face "pre-negotiation talks" between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the port city of Jeddah, across the Red Sea from the Sudan coast.

The African nation is of strategic importance to the Gulf powers, which are ensuring a diplomatic but also economic presence there. That has increased notably since 2017, after the lifting of the decade-long, U.S.-led embargo on the Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir accused of supporting international terrorism. Since then, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been investing massively in the country, particularly in infrastructure and agriculture.

With its fertile lands, and a rainy season that benefits at least half of the country, Sudan offers agricultural potential for the countries of the neighboring desert peninsula, which have planned to make it "the breadbasket of the Gulf."

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