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At Sunday's anti-corruption protest in Russia
At Sunday's anti-corruption protest in Russia

In the overwhelming immediacy of modern society, weekends provide us with the opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath, disconnect. Especially a sunny, early spring weekend. For some, this means catching up on reading or seeing old friends. For others (like yours truly), this past weekend was a chance for an intense session of gardening. And if you're Donald Trump and you've just had the "worst week" of your nine-week-old presidency, there was time to finally enjoy some quality time on the golf course. For the 13th time since taking office nine weeks ago.

Angela Merkel, for her part, had to wait until Sunday evening to relax, after a rather tense couple of days, following what must have been a truly unpleasant meeting with Trump last week in Washington. Political observers in Germany and beyond had their eyes focused this weekend on the elections in the southwestern state of Saarland, looking for indications on the German Chancellor's chances to win a fourth term in September. Opinion polls ahead of the vote had suggested that her CDU party might lose its leadership in the one-million strong state. The results, however, wound up handing Merkel a clear victory to the local CDU leader and oft-dubbed "Mini-Merkel", Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, over a coalition of left parties.

The Kremlin was quick to respond. Sound familiar?

Further to the east, in the corridors of power in Moscow, one eye is being kept on the fortunes of both Trump and Merkel. But this weekend featured some notable unrest at home. Thousands of people demonstrated yesterday in the Russian capital and in major cities across the vast country in an opposition-led show of force against corruption. The protests, described as the largest since 2012, led to the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators, among them opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who hopes to take on Vladimir Putin in next year's presidential election.

Appearing in court this morning for organizing an unauthorized rally, a defiant Navalny pointed out the large numbers of people — in big and small cities alike — who took to the streets. The Kremlin was quick to respond with an allegation that some young people had been paid to take part in the protest. Sound familiar? Sounds like the White House. Yes, the weekend is over and the news is back to its breathless pace, as one far-flung blip after another brings us ever closer together. For better or worse.

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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