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CLARIN

Argentina's Prohibitive Presidential Front-Runner, In His Own Words

An interview with Peronist candidate Albérto Fernández, who together with his running mate — former president Cristina Kirchner — is looking to unseat Mauricio Macri.

Alberto Fernández, virtually Argentina's president-elect?
Alberto Fernández, virtually Argentina's president-elect?
Pablo Ibáñez, Ignacio Miri, Walter Schmidt*

There are still two months before Argentines select their next leader, and depending on the outcome, there could also be a runoff in December. But after last week's PASO — as the country's primary-election mechanism is known — there is a widespread perception that voters have already made their choice.

The decade-old PASO system is particular in that it involves all of the country's parties and potential presidential candidates, and is thus more of a preview election than a simple weeding out process. In this case, the Aug. 11 vote also proved to be something of a spoiler given the disparity between the top two finishers: Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández and current President Mauricio Macri.

Polls predicted that Fernández would top Macri in the PASO, but not, as it turned out, by more than 15 percentage points (47.7% versus 32.1%). As a result, many now see the Oct. 27 presidential election as a done deal, and view Fernández as a kind of de facto president-elect. The fact that none of this will be official for at least another nine weeks makes the whole process even more curious.

In an exclusive interview with Clarín, the Peronist candidate opens up about his better-than-expected PASO victory, and looks ahead to October and beyond.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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