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Germany

Prostitution In East Germany: New Film Pulls Back The Curtain

Prostitution was officially a crime in German Democratic Republic. But documentary filmmaker Axel Nixdorf discovers how widely it was tolerated, and even encouraged,

Berlin in the 1970s
Berlin in the 1970s
Florian Stark

BERLIN — The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) is "a clean state," its then leader, Socialist Unity Party head Erich Honecker once said. "It has unshakeable ethical standards of decency and morality."

Honecker was talking, in this case, about prostitution. The practice was was outlawed in 1968 under Paragraph 249 of the penal code, which referred to it as a "criminal refusal to take part in socialist life." And to enforce the crackdown, the party looked to the Stasi, East Germany's secret police force, which had 91,000 full-time staff and twice as many unofficial informants.

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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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