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Nepalese devotees celebrating the Maha Shivaratri Hindu festival in Kathmandu on March 11
Nepalese devotees celebrating the Maha Shivaratri Hindu festival in Kathmandu on March 11

Welcome to Thursday, where the world marks 10 years since the Fukushima disaster, Ivory Coast's prime minister dies, and we meet one irate Paraguayan grandma. Le Monde reports on French terrorism victims who are now facing online abuse.

• Biden historic COVID relief: The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill has passed through Congress, and will include $1,400 payments to all taxpayers, and tax credits for children and low-income workers, helping fund children's return to school.

• Myanmar coup: At least eight more people were killed in today's protests, as former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, already under house arrest, is formally accused of taking bribes.

• New blow for Hong Kong democracy: China imposes a new election law to reduce democratic freedoms in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

• Ivory Coast PM dies: Ivory Coast Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko has died from cancer in a hospital in Freiburg, Germany. He was 56.

• Cop arrested in UK missing woman case: Senior Met police officer Wayne Couzens has been taken into custody following the disappearance of Sarah Everard in south London, sparking outrage and fear among women. Investigators confirm today that human remains have been found in an area of woodland reportedly belonging to the Couzens family.

• Mexico legalizes cannabis: Lawmakers in Mexico approve a bill to legalize recreational, medical and scientific uses of marijuana, helping to combat the country's powerful drug cartels.

• Trump Buddha: Chinese website Taobao is selling life-size Trump Buddha statues for the onetime low price of $614.67.

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Geopolitics

Fall Of The Empire? Ethnic Separatism On The Rise In Russia

Far from being a unified state, Russia is full of federal subjects — many of which have spawned separatist movements. Moscow, far from Siberia or the Caucasus and focused on Ukraine, is finding it harder to contain them.

Kalmyks attend the unveiling ceremony of a Buddha statue in Kalmykia, Russia

Pavel Lysyansky

They began to show up more and more in 2019: people were displaying symbols of separatism at protests in different regions of Russia. One example that marked this movement were the flags of the Ural People's Republic at protests during the spring of 2019 against the construction of a temple in Yekaterinburg, the industrial city in the Ural mountains 1,100 miles east of Moscow.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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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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