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TOPIC: georgia

eyes on the U.S.

The Demagogue's Formula: How Trump Creates An Eternal Bond With His Base

If anything, the fourth indictment leveled against former U.S. President Donald Trump will only increase the fervor among his diehard fans.

People around the world — including many Americans — cannot understand why a sizeable portion of the United States population continues to support Donald Trump, despite an ever-increasing list of charges against him, including the latest indictments in Georgia.

Before the newest charges were announced, Trump was running neck and neck against President Joe Biden in a hypothetical rematch. It seems unlikely the Georgia indictments, pertaining to alleged attempts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election results, will erode the former president’s support.

This shocks people because strong backing of a man who lies, cheats and threatens the U.S. Constitution has no precedent in national politics. However, there is a precedent in state politics which almost reached the presidential level, and some comparable situations in other countries.

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Environmental Damage Of Russia's War Is Massive — And Extends Far Beyond Ukraine

Warfare is not only traumatic for people and infrastructure but also has a large impact on the natural environment. The environmental damages of the Ukraine war will likely be be so great that even neighboring countries will suffer their effects.

WARSAW— The infrastructure used to store and transport oil is often a prime target during war, and the resulting spills and fires can contribute hugely to greenhouse gas emissions.

During the 1991 Gulf War, burning oil wells contributed to more than 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, which had long-term and wide-ranging consequences, including high levels of soot deposits and increased melting of icebergs. Carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere from burning forests, peat bogs and wetlands, set alight by shelling, also cause large environmental costs, as does the increased traffic of people and vehicles that come with refugees and humanitarian aid.

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The war in Ukraine is no exception. A new report by Climate Focus, “Climate Damage Caused by the War in Ukraine," shows that military and wartime activities have contributed as much as 100 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions — equal to the entire annual emissions of the Netherlands.

Rebuilding infrastructure, mainly housing, destroyed during the war is responsible for nearly half of these emissions. In some places, cleaning and rebuilding efforts began as soon as Russian occupiers left. Since last spring, for example, the city of Bucha has become unrecognizable. The city has been equipped with new sidewalks, repaired streets and new lighting fixtures. Projects to rebuild housing and highways are ongoing. The country has also built several new roads and bridges.

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The De-Russification Dream: How A Ukraine Victory Could Remake Central Asia

As Russia loses in influence in Central Asia, Ukraine has an opportunity to take over a key role in relations between countries in the region and the European Union.

-OpEd-

KYIV — When Ukraine called on Central Asian countries this spring to move away from Russia and forge closer ties to Kyiv, Moscow responded with its usual bluster that the region is Russia's untouchable fiefdom.

The reaction is a sign of the current weakness of Russian power in the region, and that Central Asian countries from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan themselves are tired of diktat's from the Kremlin.

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But what does this mean for Kyiv? For Ukrainian Member of Parliament Oleksandr Merezhko, it is a historic opportunity for Ukraine.

From a historical perspective, Russia's attitude toward the people of Central Asia has gone through several stages. During the period of the Russian empire, Central Asia and its people were subjected to brutal colonialism. Considering them "uneducated," Russian authorities were convinced that international law did not apply to their relations with Central Asians. Therefore, they could seize the territories of this region by force and impose their law.

The Soviet era brought in a period of exploitation by the new imperial center, and a de facto cultural genocide when the Communist regime tried to destroy the culture, religion, national identity and character of Central Asia.

Modern Russia has inherited certain traditions of colonial and Soviet national policy in its attitude to the region, which today has a population of circa 72 million, in five countries: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Its current approach is, in fact, neocolonial, and Central Asian nationals who come to Russia in search of work often become victims of humiliation, discrimination and racism.

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"Ukraine Will Win The War" — Georgia's President Tries To Quell Doubts From Kyiv

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has revealed fault lines in Georgia. Many in the country strongly condemn Russia, but some pro-Russian voices have positioned the country as a Kremlin ally. In an exclusive interview with Ukrainska Pravda, Georgian President Salomé Zourabichvili draws the line on what side of history her country will ultimately stand.

TBLISI — The capital of Georgia feels like a Ukrainian city. Tbilisi is covered not only with Ukrainian flags but also with slogans in support of Kyiv, which has been facing down an invasion from the two country's respective Russian neighbor.

You can feel the solidarity even more strongly when speaking with the residents of the Georgian capital. They all admire the Ukrainian resistance, help Ukrainian refugees, and can recite by heart the names of Georgian volunteer soldiers who have lost their lives fighting for Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. They also often apologize for the Georgian government and Parliament, which have lately been drifting openly towards Russia’s side.

The Customs Office reports that the volume of trade between Georgia and Russia has increased by almost 22% since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Georgia is also considered one of the countries that is helping Russia to evade Western sanctions, and recently Moscow and Tbilisi have resumed direct flights between the two countries, which, according to Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, is "nothing unusual".

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These flights are being carried out by Azimuth Airlines, which also operates flights to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, so this move cannot be called "friendly" towards Ukraine. Reportedly, the Office of the President of Ukraine even considered implementing sanctions against the Georgian officials responsible for adopting this decision.

The arrest two years ago of Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian President from 2004-2013, does not speak well of official Georgian-Ukrainian relations either. Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, has on several occasions called for the former Georgian leader to be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.

These are the reasons why Ukrainska Pravda decided to speak with Salomé Zourabichvili, the President of Georgia. The daughter of Georgian political emigrants, she built a brilliant diplomatic career in France.

In 2004, after Saakashvili was elected president of Georgia, she became the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Yet, in 2005 Zourabichvili turned strongly against Saakashvili. She won the presidential elections in Georgia in 2018 thanks to the support of Bidzina Ivanishvili, one of the main Georgian oligarchs and a former leader of the Georgian Dream political party.

In an interview for Ukrainska Pravda, Zourabishvili reflects on the future of Georgia’s European integration and on Saakashvili’s fate, and reveals why she has not visited Ukraine and whether Georgia is prepared to use military means to reclaim its Russian-occupied territories.

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In The News
Yannick Champion-Osselin, Michal Kubala and Sophie Jacquier

Kyiv Repels Odessa Onslaught, “Partygate” Report Slams BoJo, Mars Postcard

👋 Shlamalokhoun!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Kyiv says it has shot down 20 Russian drones after a second night of missile strikes, a damning report slams former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the “partygate” scandal, and NASA’s Curiosity rover sends a poetic composite image from Mars. Meanwhile, Carmen Domigo in online media Ethic unpacks the critical comments leveled at Spain's groundbreaking law on consent.

[*Assyrian, Syria]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Nona Mikhelidze

Red Flags, Blue Flags: Why The Georgia Uprising Makes Moscow So Nervous

Protesters in Georgia blocked the adoption of a Russian-inspired "foreign agents" law, leading to threats from the Kremlin. Writing for La Stampa, Georgia-born political scientist Nona Mikhelidze explains why the events put Moscow on edge.

-Analysis-

Protests erupted in Georgia last week over the government's efforts to adopt a “foreign agents” law, a Russian-inspired measure which would require NGOs and independent media who receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to declare themselves as foreign agents.

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Since a similar law was enacted in Russia, hundreds of civil society and activist groups have ceased their activities, including renowned human rights organization Memorial, a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner, which Russian authorities shut down in 2021.

Other organizations working on human rights, environment, election monitoring and anti-corruption have also ceased their activities, with many forced to close to avoid being labeled as foreign agents or because they couldn't take on the heavy fines imposed for not complying with the strict and arbitrary requirements of the law.

Tens of thousands gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, carrying red Georgian and blue European Union flags and chanting slogans such as “No to the Russian law” and “We are Europe.” Among the protesters were also Russian emigrants who fled their country after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Some were also seen holding signs reading: “I am from Russia! I had to flee because of the law on foreign agents! Georgians, fight!”

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In The News
Ginevra Falciani & Laure Gautherin

Ukraine Denies Pipe Sabotage, Georgia Protests, Holi Kickoff

👋 Hoi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine responds to a report about its involvement in the Nord Stream gas pipe sabotage in November, protests over press freedom rock Georgia's capital Tbilisi and the beginning of Holi celebrations coincide with International Women’s Day. Meanwhile, Karl De Meyer in French daily Les Echos takes us on a trip to Umeå, Sweden, a city where urbanism and feminism are words that go together well.

[*Dutch]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Yuri Fedorov

How Russia Planned For The Wrong War — With The Wrong Army

Russia is losing in Ukraine not just because of Putin's madness and the heroism of Ukrainians, but also because Russia's army is built for rapid invasion and occupation, not for the type of grinding war it is now fighting in Ukraine.

In the early days of the Russian invasion, both Moscow and the West predicted Ukraine would quickly be defeated.

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On Feb. 26, 2022, the American Institute for the Study of War wrote: “Russia will likely defeat Ukrainian regular military forces and secure their territorial objectives at some point in the coming days or weeks if Putin is determined to do so and willing to pay the cost in blood and treasure.”

Events, however, took a different path.

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Economy
Important Stories

How Fleeing Russians (And Their Rubles) Are Shaking Up Neighboring Economies

Russians fled the war to neighboring countries, bringing with them billions of dollars worth of wealth. The influx of money is both a windfall and a problem.

Posting a comment on a Kazakhstani real estate listing and sales website this past fall, one user couldn't contain his enthusiasm: "It's unbelievable, hasn't happened since 2013 — the market has exploded! ... Yippee! I don't know who to kiss!"

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The boom of demand — and dollars — in Kazakhstan, and other countries in the region, is traced directly to the incoming Russians and their wealth who have arrived since the war in Ukraine began.

The ongoing wave of fleeing Russians is likely the largest emigration from the country in 100 years. There are no accurate estimates of how many Russians have left the country, much less where they will settle or how many of them will eventually return home. But between March and October, up to 1.5 million people left Russia. A conservative estimate suggests half a million haven't returned.

The main flow passed through Georgia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (which has the longest land border with Russia). In these countries, the Russian language is widespread and visas are unnecessary. Russians can even enter Kazakhstan and Armenia without a passport.

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In The News
Renate Mattar, Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Imran Khan Assassination Attempt, Ethiopia Truce, Hole-y Cheese

👋 Hai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan is out of danger after an assassination attempt at a protest march, inflation is getting out of hand in Turkey and Switzerland takes the crown for best cheese. Meanwhile, Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage looks at the relationship between Georgia and its problematic neighbor, Russia: Yes, it’s complicated.

[*Malay, Malaysia, Indonesia]

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Russia
Steffi Unsleber

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.

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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In The News
Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Lisa Berdet

"Catastrophic Destruction” In Ukraine, Japan Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban, HK Restaurant Sinks

👋 Avuxeni!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where “catastrophic destruction” is reported in eastern Ukraine, Japan upholds a same-sex marriage ban and an iconic Hong Kong restaurant is now feeding the fish. Meanwhile, an English Professor reflects in The Conversation on the linguistic implications of the Ukraine war and censorship on speech and silence.

[*Tsonga, South Africa and Mozambique]

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