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Hungary

Reverse Migration? Germans Move To Orban’s Hungary To Flee Immigrants

Up close with some of the growing numbers of Germans settling in Hungary, a country that has shut out refugees from the Middle East.

A quaint (and Christian) setting across the border in Hungary
A quaint (and Christian) setting across the border in Hungary
Stephane Kovacs

MARCALI — A room downstairs for grandpa, and three upstairs for the family. Outside, a flower garden for Bonny the dog, and above all, peace and quiet. Just a month ago, the Brandt family came to Hungary for the first time and discovered, in the gleaming sunshine, Lake Balaton. Five days later, they bought a quaint wooden house on the edge of Marcali, a little village 15 kilometers from the lake.

The Brandts are not the only Germans to find a second home in the very conservative Hungary of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as they sought cheaper, but also "safer" lives, which they finally admit is a motivating factor. Ottmar Heide, a local real estate agent, does not hesitate: "Eight out of 10 of my German customers are fleeing the mass arrival of migrants in Germany," he declares. Heide says his German customers regularly complain about Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy. "They don't want to live in fear anymore, surrounded by radical Muslims," he adds.

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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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