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The Economist Europe

An exiled ex-president plans a comeback in Georgia

Oct 22nd 2020IN THE GARISH style of a video game, the former Soviet republic of Georgia’s richest man is running around in a suit, knocking out golden coins with his head, when a rotund figure pops out of a chimney, destroying the oligarch and triggering “game over”. The victor—in the mock game—is Mikheil Saakashvili, independent Georgia’s best-known ex-president. He hopes to become Georgia’s prime minister in an election on October 31st.Mr Saakashvili led the “Rose revolution” of 2003 that...

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A jihadist beheading spurs the French to defend secularism

Oct 22nd 2020PARISIN A COURTYARD at the Sorbonne, the paramount French symbol of learning, President Emmanuel Macron on October 21st paid homage to a teacher slain “for embodying…the freedom that is transmitted and sustained at school.” Samuel Paty (see Obituary) was a middle-school history teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a genteel town north-west of Paris. Earlier this month he had shown pupils caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo during a class...

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A second wave of covid-19 sends much of Europe back into lockdown

Oct 22nd 2020AMSTERDAMFOR A FEW months this summer it was almost possible for Europeans to believe that life had returned to normal. Parisian museums and Barcelona’s cafés were open, if less crowded. Germans, Dutch and Danes jetted off to holidays on Mediterranean beaches. In August and September, as children across the continent returned to school, covid-19 infections began to rise. Yet governments, worried about a backlash, chose not to reintroduce harsh social-distancing measures.Their...

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The European Parliament: powerful yet puny

Oct 24th 2020KILLING A KING is a good way of showing who is boss. In the 17th century, English parliamentarians put Charles I on trial for treason after a civil war. He was found guilty and swiftly executed. French lawmakers did something similar in the 18th century. Their 21st-century peers must rely on less bloody methods. The European Parliament is, in its own way, as mighty as its regicidal forebears. It has plenty of weapons at its disposal. It can block trade deals and veto the EU’s...

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Sweden embarks on its largest military build-up for decades

Oct 19th 2020“AN ARMED ATTACK against Sweden cannot be ruled out,” warned Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s defence minister, shortly after he introduced a new defence bill on October 14th. It promises the country’s largest military expansion for 70 years. The reason is plain. Russia’s assertive behaviour across Europe, from invasion to assassination, has alarmed Swedes.In recent years, Sweden has accused Russia of violating its air space and waters several times. Accordingly, it has deepened...

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An interview with Alexei Navalny, assassination survivor

Oct 17th 2020BERLINALEXEI NAVALNY, Russia’s charismatic opposition leader, has always had something of the Hollywood hero about him, and he likes to illustrate his speeches with references to popular movies. Reflecting on the journey he has made from Siberia, where he was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent, to a Berlin hospital, where he awoke after a three-week coma, he is conscious of the cinematic quality of the plot so far: a people’s hero challenges an evil dictator who tries to kill...

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Men should have no place in women’s minds, says a new book

Oct 17th 2020PARIS“TO EMANCIPATE A woman is to refuse to confine her to the relations she has to men, not to deny them to her.” So wrote Simone de Beauvoir, the godmother of French feminism, in “The Second Sex” over 70 years ago. Not all French feminists today would agree. A new book, “Lesbian Genius”, suggests that women should banish men from their lives. Its author, Alice Coffin, a lesbian activist and Paris city councillor, says she no longer reads books by men, nor watches films made by...

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Can the European Union learn to love a common culture?

Oct 17th 2020BAUHAUS AND Brussels are an uneasy mix. Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus art school, which shaped design in the 20th century, declared that a building “must be true to itself, logically transparent, and virginal of lies or trivialities”. A short stroll around the EU quarter in Brussels reveals buildings that happily violate all these rules. Post-modern monstrosities butt against merely ridiculous buildings with nicknames such as the Space Egg. Inside, things are often...

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Turkey locks up Kurdish mayors

Oct 17th 2020ISTANBULIN CITIES ACROSS Turkey’s east, it is no longer an unusual scene. The local mayor, clutching a bag stuffed with some clothes and a toothbrush, the bare necessities for a long spell in prison, emerges from his house before dawn, accompanied by a group of policemen, and disappears into a van. The scene played out most recently on September 25th in Kars, a city near the Armenian border, where police arrested Ayhan Bilgen, who was elected to office last year. A small crowd...

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Berlin’s long-delayed airport is finally opening

Oct 17th 2020BERLINCHECK-IN FOR a flight to Antalya was going smoothly until airport staff saw The Economist’s gun. This correspondent, a volunteer on a recent trial run for Berlin’s new airport, had been handed a fake hunting-rifle to test the mettle of security staff. The police summoned to check told him he had “forgotten a crucial bit of documentation”. After a fake ticking-off, permission to board was grudgingly granted.It was a relatively mild slip in the long history of Germany’s...

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