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Protesters before the Senate final confirmation vote.
Protesters before the Senate final confirmation vote.
Michael Scherer and Robert Costa

WASHINGTON — When Christine Blasey Ford accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault last month, she did more than open herself up to unwanted scrutiny. She held up a mirror to a country in crisis, revealing its political players and embattled institutions not for what they claimed to be but for what they really are.

The painful 20-day passion play that followed — staged in committee rooms, Senate floor debates, hallway protests and millions of private conversations — did little to alter the future makeup of the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed Saturday by the Senate, 50-48, in a vote that tracked expectations from the summer, with only one Democrat and one Republican defecting from the party line.

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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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