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influencers

Economy
Yuri Litvinenko and Valeria Lebedeva

Instagram Nyet! Russian Influencers Lose Mojo On Homegrown Platforms

It's a different kind of "migration" indeed, from Instagram to VKontakte, after U.S. social media were banned in Russia. It's yet another kind of difficulty for Russians trying to continue with daily life.

MOSCOW — Since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, access to international digital platforms and social networks within Russia has become virtually impossible. Facebook and Instagram were banned in late March, the activities of their parent company Meta were declared extremist and blocked, and Twitter was quickly added later to the hit list.

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Geopolitics
Shahram Sabzevari

Don't Underestimate Russian Influence Over Iran's Military

Russia's role in in Iranian affairs goes to the highest levels of its military and security structures. But will anyone in Iran dare question Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in spite of the grave risks to the country's national security?

-Analysis-

LONDON — Several sources recently reported on the sale of 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets to Iran. These were initially to be sold to Egypt, but that deal was thwarted by the threat of U.S. sanctions on Egypt. Since 15 of the planes were reportedly ready for delivery, they may be sent to the Iranian regime in early 2022.

Reports of sales of Russian commercial or military planes to Iran are not new, though some now qualify them as a consolation for Tehran to make amends for Russia's suspected approval of the strikes that have targeted Iranian Revolutionary guards bases, allied militias and Iranian war material in Syria.

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Future
Laura-Maï Gaveriaux

The Mirage Of Egypt’s New Capital City

In an area the size of Singapore, Egypt is building its new capital. Constructed under the close control of the military and the head of state, the city embodies the grand ambitions of an increasingly autocratic president. But will it turn out to be a ghost city?

CAIRO — The concrete structure rises to a height of 1,263 feet (385 meters) on the edge of an expressway, where asphalt, as soon as it is laid down, lets out acrid fumes. With its double collar that licks the sky, the Iconic Tower is already the tallest building in Africa. It is also the flagship of this vast assembly of open-air construction sites over 450 square miles, an area the size of Singapore, which will be the location of the new Egyptian capital.

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Ideas
Nolan Higdon

Elon Musk Wants Twitter For The Big Data, Not The Free Speech

Oligarchs of the ‘Second Gilded Age’ in the like of Elon Musk are already able to influence the public's minds through media ownership. But getting a hand on Twitter means having access to its users' data and exploiting it for financial purposes.

During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and the early decades of the 20th century, U.S. captains of industry such as William Randolph Hearst and Jay Gould used their massive wealth to dominate facets of the economy, including the news media. They were, in many ways, prototype oligarchs — by the dictionary definition, “very rich business leaders with a great deal of political influence.”

Some have argued that the U.S. is in the midst of a Second Gilded Age defined — like the first — by vast wealth inequality, hyper-partisanship, xenophobia and a new crop of oligarchs using their vast wealth to purchase media and political influence.

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Geopolitics
Philip Volkmann-Schluck

How Putin "Lost" Kazakhstan, And Squashed His Own Soviet Revival

For Vladimir Putin, invading Ukraine was the first massive step in reviving the power of Soviet times. His war has done the opposite. Kazakhstan is the first former Soviet republic to distance itself from Russia and turn to the West. But the Central Asian country may not be able to free itself of Russian influence as quickly as it would like.

-Analysis-

Less than three months ago, the president of Kazakhstan asked the Kremlin to send troops into his country. In January, shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the vast Central Asian country was rocked by uprisings, with tens of thousands of citizens protesting high prices for the liquid gas that they use as fuel for cooking, heating and cars.

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Militant groups attacked police stations and the capital’s airport. Head of state Kassym-Jomart Tokayev feared a coup. He called for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an intergovernmental military alliance between former Soviet states, long dominated by Russia.

Vladimir Putin responded within a few hours – and for a while, the eyes of the world were on Kazakhstan as Moscow sent in “peacekeeping forces.” According to official figures, at least 250 people died during the two weeks of unrest, while thousands were arrested.

Much of what happened remains shrouded in secrecy: the brutal actions of the state, but also the identity of those protestors who were armed. “Traitors,” according to the government.

The involvement of CSTO troops has no historical precedent in the post-Soviet era. In January, experts feared that Putin would refuse to withdraw his troops from the country, which has rich reserves of oil, natural gas and other natural resources. It would have been a turning point if the Kremlin had used the alliance to establish a military presence in Central Asia. Although it wouldn’t have been surprising given Putin’s strategy: at a recent patriotic rally that packed out Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, songs were played that referred to Kazakhstan as part of Russia.

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Geopolitics
Taras Kuzio

Yanukovych And A New "Little Russia": Putin's Final Plan For Ukraine

Putin says he wants to "denazify" Ukraine, but his true goal is bringing the country back into Russia's sphere of influence as part of an all-Russian nation. To achieve that, he will try to turn it into a second Belarus, with a puppet ruler who has a familiar face.

-Analysis-

KYIV — An article recently appeared on Ria Novosti, Russia’s main state online news agency with the headline: "Russia is restoring its historical fullness, bringing together the Russian land and the All-Russian nation — Great Russians, Belarusians and Little Russians." The article said stopping the “disintegration of Russian lands” should be the first step towards restoring the effective rule of the USSR.

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Even now, three decades later, its collapse remains a tragedy for Vladimir Putin. He believes that "Little Russia"— that is, Ukraine — must be led by a Russian puppet like the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko.

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Ideas
Héctor Abad Faciolince

Russia's Prime Export Under Putin: Chaos

Russia's president is neither clearly right-wing nor left-wing. As his dubious allies around the world suggest, he simply hates Western liberal democracy and seeks to expand his personal power, at home and abroad, by sowing unrest and conflict.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — A glance at Vladimir Putin's friends around the world gives us a clear idea of the Russian president's preferences: It is not about a penchant for the left (as you might think, given his friendship with supposedly leftist governments) or the right (and he does have allies on the right).

His real inclination is for governments that despise liberal democracy, or at least democracy as conceived in the European Union, United States, Australia or Japan.

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Geopolitics
Anna Akage

Greater Russia? Four Scenarios For Putin’s Expansionist Ambitions

A mind map of the Russian leader’s possible plans to increase his influence, and expand his territory.

Vladimir Putin has always had his eye on the neighborhood.

In Georgia, the border with Russia has effectively been controlled by Moscow’s FSB security services since 2008. Washington this week accused Russian agents of recruiting pro-Kremlin Ukrainian operatives to take over the government in Kyiv and cooperate with a Russian occupying force. Meanwhile, all of Belarus has been on a short leash for two decades.

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Society
Carlo Pizzati

Aging Influencers, Chinese Grandmas Are Social Media Hit

Old age is trending in China for reasons of culture, technology and demographics.

BEIJING — Imagine a 70-year-old Chinese version of Chiara Ferragni. Now multiply these "senior" Asian influencers by a dozen and you will have a snapshot of the new phenomenon that has hit social media in China. The aging divas are the stars of the feed dedicated to "Fashion Grandmothers" on the Chinese social network Douyin, the national version of TikTok.

They call themselves "fashion_grannies' or "Glamma Beijing," playing on the Chinese pronunciation of the English words grandma and glamor. And they are quite something to see, wrapped up in traditional damask cheongsam, buttoned all the way up their neck or hopping in casual clothes of the latest fashion brands.

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Ideas
Julien Reitzenstein

School Uniforms, The Plainest Solution To The World's Biggest Problems

For decades, countries like Germany have resisted implementing school uniforms. But dress codes in schools are not just for the elite. They can help reduce social stigma for students living in poverty, as well as helping fight the climate crisis.

BERLIN — Few consumer goods contribute as much to climate change as clothing does. And fewer groups are more vocal about protecting the climate as school children. Yet they could make a major contribution to climate protection in a very simple way.

German politics values consensus, so it is hard to imagine a political debate that doesn't mention equality in some way. Parties and governments want to make social differences in everyday life as invisible as possible – and to encourage citizens to be sensitive. Perhaps this is why the desire to avoid any form of discrimination is now considered good manners by more and more adults.

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Geopolitics
Mauricio Rubio

New Revelations Of García Marquez's Ties To Cuba And Nicaragua

Like other intellectuals of his time, the celebrated Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez admired Cuba's Fidel Castro. What's just been revealed, however, is also, as one text reveals, the Sandinista rebels who have stifled Nicaraguan democracy in past years.

BOGOTÁ — Entirely isolated and criticized by the international community, Daniel Ortega was again sworn in earlier this month as president of Nicaragua.

Ortega has now outdone Anastasio Somoza, the despot he helped topple in his youth, with a record 26 years in power and starting a fifth mandate, including a fourth consecutive one and the second with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice-president.

After Cuba's Fidel Castro, he is the regional tyrant most frequently cheered by Colombia's leftist intellectuals, and praised as his people's emancipator from "yankee oppression."

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

I’m Being Followed: Between Clinical Paranoia And Chiara Ferragni

Rita suffers from paranoid personality disorder:

"Dottoré, my problem is that as soon as I post a picture on Facebook, someone copies me.

I show off my hair after a shatush coloring? The next day my cousin is off to the hairdresser.

I get myself a poodle? My sister buys one for her daughter.

I share a photo of my nails painted orange? A friend buys a shirt in the same exact color.

Everyone is crazy with envy for everything I do, and if I point it out to them, they say I have 'persecutory delusions!'"

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