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Luigi Di Maio, Giuseppe Conte and Matteo Salvini at a press conference
Luigi Di Maio, Giuseppe Conte and Matteo Salvini at a press conference
Ugo Magri

It started as an unlikely marriage of convenience: after Italy's elections in March 2018, the far-right League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) formed a coalition government. Fighting over the choice of prime minister, the two parties settled for an unknown political figure: Giuseppe Conte, a lawyer whose 12-page résumé raised more than a few questions. Matteo Salvini, the League leader, and Luigi Di Maio of M5S both became deputy prime ministers, with the former also taking over as interior minister and the latter as minister of economic development.

The M5S began on top, having gained 32% of the national vote. The League was the major party in the center-right coalition, with 17% of the vote. Together, they had a majority in the government. But they appealed to voters with different tastes and needs: M5S was popular in the south and among more progressive people with a distaste for the establishment; the League's natural electorate is among anti-immigrant, nationalist voters, mainly in the North of the country.

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Russia

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.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

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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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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