The New York Times 2024-06-11 09:20:25


Middle East Crisis: U.N. Security Council Passes U.S.-Backed Cease-Fire Resolution

Fourteen of the 15 members voted in favor, with Russia abstaining.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday adopted a U.S.-backed cease-fire plan for the Gaza Strip after Russia opted not to block it, adding extra heft to a growing international push for an end to the fighting.

Fourteen of the 15 Council members voted in favor, with Russia — which has veto power — abstaining.

In passing the resolution, the Council delivered a diplomatic victory to Washington, which had vetoed three previous cease-fire resolutions before the Council.

“The only way to end this cycle of violence and build a durable peace is through a political settlement,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said that the United States would work to make sure that Israel agreed to the deal and that Qatar and Egypt would work to bring Hamas to the negotiating table.

“Colleagues, today we voted for peace,” she said.

The resolution laid out a three-phase plan that begins with an immediate cease-fire, the release of all hostages in exchange for Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

The second phase calls for a permanent cease-fire with the agreement of both parties, and the third phase would consist of a multiyear reconstruction plan for Gaza and return of the remains of deceased hostages.

“The proposal says if the negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the cease-fire will still continue as long as negotiations continue,” the resolution said. It also rejected “any attempt at demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of Gaza.”

Israel’s representative to the U.N., Reut Shapir Ben-Naftaly, did not say that Israel had accepted the terms, but said her country’s goals in the war had not changed and that it would use military operations to free hostages as it did just two days ago.

“We will continue until all of the hostages are returned and Hamas’s military capabilities are dismantled,” Ms. Shapir Ben-Naftaly told the Council. She said if Hamas leaders freed all hostages and turned themselves in, “not one shot would be fired.”

In a statement, Hamas said it “welcomes what is included in the Security Council resolution that affirmed the permanent cease-fire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal, the prisoners’ exchange, the reconstruction, the return of the displaced to their areas of residence, the rejection of any demographic change or reduction in the area of the Gaza Strip, and the delivery of needed aid to our people in the Strip.”

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said that the Council remained in the dark about the details of the U.S.’s agreement with Israel and had “essentially voted for a cat in the bag.”

But Mr. Nebenzya said Russia had decided to abstain because the resolution had widespread support by Arab countries.

The American Mission to the United Nations began drafting the resolution and negotiating over it in the days after President Biden announced on May 31 that Israel had put forth a cease-fire deal. The resolution follows the same framework that Mr. Biden set out, according to Nate Evans, the spokesman for the U.S. mission.

“This deal is how we will achieve the cease-fire with the release of hostages,” said Mr. Evans. “Israel has accepted the deal. Now it’s time for Hamas to do it.”

Israeli officials have not publicly endorsed the cease-fire plan, and they have not said whether they would abide by the deal if Hamas accepts it. A day after Mr. Biden’s announcement, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that appeared to undercut the proposal, calling a permanent cease-fire a “nonstarter.”

Diplomats said that during negotiations, the United States asked Security Council members to take its word that Israel was on board, and refused to incorporate clear language in the text that Israel accept the deal.

The draft resolution states only that Israel has accepted the U.S. proposal, but it “calls” for Hamas to accept the deal. Russia and China and Algeria, the only Arab member of the Security Council, had said in back-channel negotiations that the text appeared too lopsided in favor of Israel.

Ever since the war started eight months ago, the Security Council has been in a deadlock over finding a way to end the conflict and fulfill its mandate to uphold international peace and stability.

China, which vetoed a cease-fire resolution put forth by the United States in March because it said the proposal did not go far enough, said that it had voted in favor of this one because it wants to see the fighting end and the hostages released.

Its ambassador to the U.N., Fu Cong, said China supported it even though the resolution was “ambiguous in many aspects.”

“We still have valid concerns on whether the parties concerned will accept the terms of the cease-fire and whether the arrangement can be carried out smoothly,” he said.

The United States has vetoed three resolutions calling for a cease-fire. In March, after the U.S. abstained, the Council passed a resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire and more desperately needed aid to be allowed into Gaza during Ramadan.

Neither of the parties has abided by that resolution.

Blinken urges Mideast leaders to press Hamas over a cease-fire.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in Jerusalem, as the United States sought to put pressure on Hamas and Israel to agree to a cease-fire in Gaza.

Mr. Blinken reiterated that the United States and other world leaders will stand behind the proposal outlined by President Biden that would lead to an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for Gaza.

It was the second stop of Mr. Blinken’s three-day Mideast tour; he and the prime minister met late in the evening and Mr. Blinken was expected to meet later with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, the State Department said.

During the meeting, Mr. Blinken underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, including ensuring that Oct. 7 can never be repeated. The proposal, he added, would unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region.

Mr. Blinken also updated the prime minister on diplomatic efforts to plan for the post-conflict period, emphasizing the importance of those efforts to providing long-term peace, security, and stability to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Mr. Blinken also emphasized the importance of preventing the conflict from spreading.

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Blinken held talks in Cairo with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose government has helped mediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a proposed cease-fire deal offered by Israel and backed by the United States.

“My message to governments throughout the region is: If you want a cease-fire, press Hamas to say yes,” Mr. Blinken told reporters before departing Cairo.

But Mr. Blinken was also expected to press Israeli officials over the proposal, which President Biden has endorsed.

More than two weeks have passed since Israel presented the deal to Hamas, and even Mr. Netanyahu’s government has not formally embraced it. The Israeli prime minister, under pressure from far-right members of his government, has said publicly that the Israeli assault in Gaza should continue until Hamas’s military and governing capabilities are destroyed.

There has also been no official response to the proposal from Hamas. Some Hamas officials have suggested that they cannot agree to a limited halt to the fighting without greater assurances that Israel is prepared to negotiate an end to the war. U.S. officials say they are awaiting more definitive word from Hamas.

It was also unclear whether the Israeli raid on Saturday, which freed four hostages from Hamas captivity but killed dozens of Palestinians, might have further set back the chances that the militant group would agree to a deal.

Tensions have grown between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu over the number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel’s military during the war in Gaza. Mr. Biden said last month that he had paused the delivery to Israel of some larger bombs to ensure that they were not used in an assault on the Gazan city of Rafah.

Mr. Blinken is visiting Israel at a time of domestic tumult, following the move by Benny Gantz, a Netanyahu rival, and his centrist National Unity party to leave the emergency wartime government in protest of Mr. Netanyahu’s handling of the war.

On his eighth trip to the region since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks, Mr. Blinken also plans to visit Qatar, another Arab nation mediating between Israel and Hamas. Qatar hosts Hamas’s political leaders, though the group’s ultimate decisions are made by its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

Mr. Blinken’s efforts come a few days after inconclusive visits to Egypt and Qatar last week by the C.IA. director, William J. Burns, and Brett McGurk, the top White House official for Middle East affairs, in pursuit of a cease-fire deal.

In Jordan, Mr. Blinken will attend a conference Tuesday on humanitarian aid for Gaza co-hosted by Jordan, Egypt and the United Nations.

Israel’s Parliament revives a bill on drafting ultra-Orthodox men into the military.

Israel’s Parliament on Tuesday voted to revive a bill that would enable ultra-Orthodox men to be drafted into the military, a divisive issue that has become especially contentious since the war in Gaza began last October.

The vote, which passed 63-57, was a procedural step aimed at keeping the hot-button issue in the hands of legislators instead of judges, who have repeatedly determined that the exemption, dating to the founding of Israel, should not stand.

Many secular Israelis have long lamented the draft exemptions for the most religious members of society. The issue has taken new prominence since the Hamas-led attack in Israel on Oct. 7 set off a war that has prompted repeated call-ups of reserve soldiers.

The bill, which revives a proposal made in 2022, would limit the exemption for young ultra-Orthodox men enrolled in religious study, establish recruitment quotas for them and provide alternative service options, among other changes. Some critics contend, however, that the proposal would not significantly increase military service among the ultra-Orthodox, known in Hebrew as Haredim.

The bill was advanced in May by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an apparent effort to deter Israel’s Supreme Court from taking the lead on the matter. The justices are currently considering whether the government must immediately begin drafting the ultra-Orthodox, following the expiration of a law last year that was temporarily extended and has expired again.

The vote on Tuesday was widely seen as intended to send a signal to the court that the Knesset was addressing the issue. The court ordered the government to address it long ago, but years of legislative efforts have failed to produce meaningful change.

Some members of Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party said that they would support the bill’s revival in order to speed up the legislative process, but they promised to demand changes before it advanced.

The Israeli attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, has pressed for immediate conscription of the country’s ultra-Orthodox, arguing that the government’s inability to pass new legislation did not excuse the failure to begin drafting the Haredim after the expiration of the previous exemption law.

The dispute is rooted in decisions made in the years surrounding Israel’s founding, when the country’s secular leadership promised autonomy and privileges to the ultra-Orthodox minority in exchange for their support in creating a largely secular state. Along with being exempted from the draft, the Haredim are allowed to run their own education system.

When the numbers of the Haredim were relatively small, their privileges mattered less to the Israeli mainstream. But they are Israel’s fastest-growing population, now numbering more than one million, or roughly 13 percent of the population, up from 40,000, or 5 percent, in 1948. They are expected to make up about 16 percent of the nation by 2030.

If the Supreme Court can be persuaded that Mr. Netanyahu’s government is making a serious effort to address the issue, the justices may give the Knesset time to pass a law. If not, the court may decide to order immediate action, and that could lead to a crisis for Mr. Netanyahu, whose coalition relies on the support of the ultra-Orthodox.

Gazans in the area where hostages were rescued plead for an end to the war.

As a neighborhood in central Gaza reeled on Monday in the aftermath of Israeli attacks that accompanied the rescue of four hostages, residents pleaded for an end to the fighting.

Dozens of people picked through the rubble of buildings in Nuseirat after part of the neighborhood was shattered during the Saturday raid. Video by Reuters showed people walking through streets full of crumbled masonry and glass, and cars that had been crushed by blocks of concrete.

Mohamed al Tahrani, a resident of the neighborhood, said that he had spent months seeking safety from the fighting. “For the millionth time, we deliver a message to the international community,” he said. “We don’t want aid. We want you to stop the war.”

Gazan health officials said that more than 200 people had been killed in the raid. The Israel military said it was aware of fewer than 100 casualties, but gave no further details. It was unclear how many of the casualties were civilians.

Israel’s military says 3 recently rescued hostages were held in a home of a Hamas member.

Following the Israeli rescue of four hostages in Gaza on Saturday, Israel’s military said that three of them had been held in the home of a member of Hamas, which it said showed that the armed group was using civilian homes to shield its activity.

Israeli special forces, backed by the military, intelligence and air force, raided two buildings in a neighborhood in Nuseirat, a refugee camp in central Gaza on Saturday, rescuing Almog Meir Jan, 22; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 41, from the home of Abdallah Aljamal, the military said. A fourth hostage, Noa Argamani, 26, was also freed, apparently from a nearby building.

More than 274 people were killed during the raid, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The Israeli military said that the death toll was less than 100. Neither the Israeli military nor Palestinian health officials provided a breakdown of civilians and combatants killed in the raid.

Mr. Aljamal’s death was confirmed by Gaza’s Government Media Office on Sunday, which said he had worked for the Hamas-affiliated news agency, Palestine Now.

On Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app: “The hostages were held captive by Abdallah Aljamal and members of his family in their home. This is further evidence of the deliberate use of civilian homes and buildings by the Hamas terrorist organization to hold Israeli hostages captive in the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s military has said for months that civilian casualties in Gaza are inevitable because Hamas hides its forces within the population.

However, the Israeli military appeared to be stepping back on Monday from its post a day earlier on the X platform, formerly Twitter, that implied that Mr. Aljamal was a journalist for Al Jazeera, an influential news organization based in Qatar.

In that post, the military showed what appeared to be a screenshot of a photo and brief biography of Mr. Aljamal on the news organization’s website. “No press vest can make him innocent of the crimes he has committed,” the post said, adding, “Al Jazeera: what’s this terrorist doing on your website.”

Al Jazeera refuted the accusation on Sunday, saying that “these allegations are completely unfounded” and that Mr. Aljamal had “never worked” for the network. Rather, it said, he had contributed to an op-ed in 2019. A search of Al Jazeera’s website for his byline surfaces a co-written opinion piece from January of that year collecting accounts of six Palestinians who had been held in Israeli prisons. News organizations frequently publish opinion pieces from contributors who are not on staff and with whom they have no ongoing contractual relationship.

Al Jazeera is a major source of news in the Arab world and has highlighted civilian suffering in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused it of harming Israel’s security and inciting violence against its soldiers. The news organization has been under a temporary ban from operating in Israel since May 5 — an unusual step that critics denounced as anti-democratic and part of a broader crackdown on dissent over Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

A 35-day ban on Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel was extended by an additional 45 days last Wednesday, after the Israeli cabinet agreed Al Jazeera’s broadcasts posed a threat to security.

On Monday, the Israeli military said it had no comment on Al Jazeera’s rebuttal, referring a Times reporter back to its Sunday Telegram post, which identified Mr. Aljamal only as a member of Hamas. However, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to amplify the accusation that he was connected to Al Jazeera, reposting on Monday a report by The New York Post that cited the military’s Sunday post on X.

It was not possible to ascertain independently whether the hostages had been held in Mr. Aljamal’s home and, if so, under what circumstances.

Given that Abdallah Aljamal is a relatively common name in Gaza, it was also not possible to be certain that the person who wrote the op-ed was the same person whose home Israel’s military said was used to hold the hostages.

According to a preliminary estimate by the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 100 journalists and media workers have been killed during Israel’s campaign in Gaza, which began on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched an attack on Israel. It calls that an unprecedented toll on Palestinian journalists.

Israeli officials have said that they believed that some of those journalists were also members of Hamas, an assertion that serves to cast doubt on the neutrality of some of the reporting conducted by Palestinian journalists. Because foreign media are barred from entering the enclave outside of special tours closely monitored by the military, Palestinian journalists have become a crucial source of information about prosecution of the war and its impact on civilians.

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

As His Political Alliance Breaks Up, Netanyahu Faces a Battle at Home

Still fighting Israel’s outside enemies on multiple fronts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu woke up on Monday to a new political battlefield at home.

The departure this weekend of Benny Gantz and his centrist National Unity party from Israel’s emergency wartime government is unlikely to immediately sever Mr. Netanyahu’s grip on power. The prime minister’s governing coalition still commands a narrow majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Parliament.

But Mr. Gantz’s move means that Mr. Netanyahu is now totally dependent on his far-right and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners as he prosecutes the war in Gaza in the face of mounting international opprobrium, leaving him increasingly isolated and exposed at home and abroad.

Mr. Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, another powerful member of National Unity, also left Mr. Netanyahu’s small war cabinet. They are both former military chiefs who were widely viewed as key voices of moderation in the five-member body, which was formed in October after the Hamas-led assault on Israel prompted the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza.

The two centrist politicians raised public confidence in the government’s decision-making at a time of national trauma. They also lent the war cabinet an aura of legitimacy and consensus as Israel fought Hamas in Gaza, as well as its archenemy Iran and its other proxies, including the powerful Hezbollah militia across Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

Mr. Gantz accused Mr. Netanyahu of “political procrastination,” suggesting that he had been putting off critical strategic decisions to ensure his political survival. His decision to quit the wartime government ushers in a new period of political instability and has left many Israelis wondering where the country goes from here.

Describing the political shake-up as “incredibly consequential,” Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Jerusalem, said that Israelis had already been giving low grades to the government on a host of wartime issues. That included the handling of the fighting and relations with the United States, Israel’s crucial ally, he said.

“With Gantz’s absence, I expect those grades to become even lower,” Mr. Plesner said.

Mr. Gantz had issued an ultimatum three weeks ago, warning Mr. Netanyahu that he would break up the emergency government unless the prime minister came up with clear plans, including on who would replace Hamas as the ruler of a postwar Gaza and how to bring back the scores of hostages still being held in the Palestinian enclave.

Mr. Gantz joined the government last October to foster a sense of unity at a time of crisis. He joined forces with his political rival, Mr. Netanyahu, despite a deep lack of trust between the two and a history of betrayal. The last time Mr. Gantz went into a government with Mr. Netanyahu, in 2020, it also ended badly after Mr. Netanyahu broke their power-sharing agreement.

The influence of Mr. Gantz and Mr. Eisenkot, whose son, a soldier, was killed in December while fighting in Gaza, has waned in recent months, leading many Israelis to ask why they had not left the emergency government and joined the opposition earlier. Mr. Gantz has called for early elections this fall.

Mr. Netanyahu’s formal partners remaining in the war cabinet are his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, a rival within his conservative Likud party whom Mr. Netanyahu tried to fire last year; and Ron Dermer, a seasoned Netanyahu confidant with more diplomatic than political experience. It is unclear if the war cabinet will continue to function.

A separate and broader security cabinet includes two ultranationalist party leaders: Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister for national security, and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister. Both want to resettle Gaza with Israelis.

Mr. Ben-Gvir and Mr. Smotrich have both vowed to bring down Mr. Netanyahu’s government if he proceeds with an Israeli proposal for a deal involving a truce and a swap of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, which, as outlined by President Biden over a week ago, would effectively wind down the war.

At least two potentially destabilizing challenges now loom over Mr. Netanyahu’s government, analysts say.

The first is the prospect of a deal with Hamas. Israeli and American officials say they are waiting for a formal response from Hamas to the truce proposal. A positive response could well force Mr. Netanyahu to stop obfuscating and choose between a deal and the survival of his government.

The other challenge is the deeply polarizing issue of the wholesale exemptions from military service that are granted to ultra-Orthodox men enrolled in religious seminaries.

The ultra-Orthodox exemptions have long been a divisive issue in Israeli society, but tolerance for the decades-old policy has worn thin in a country where most 18-year-olds are drafted for years of compulsory military service, and even more so during this war. The same pool of reserve soldiers find themselves repeatedly called back for long stretches of duty in Gaza as the campaign grinds into a ninth month, with no clear plan, experts say, for where it is headed.

On Monday night or early Tuesday, the Israeli Parliament was expected to vote on a recruitment bill that would essentially keep the ultra-Orthodox exemption system intact. Though it is being pushed by Mr. Netanyahu to mollify his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, even some members of his conservative Likud party — including Mr. Gallant, the defense minister — object to it, particularly during a war when the country needs more soldiers.

On the recruitment issue, Mr. Netanyahu finds himself in a bind, said Mr. Plesner. “There is an inherent conflict there between his own political base and his most precious alliance with the ultra-Orthodox parties,” he added.

If it passes this first reading, the bill will go into committee before the second and third, final, votes. But even if it fails to pass, said Mr. Plesner — who is himself a former lawmaker from a now-defunct centrist party — that won’t necessarily presage the dissolution of Parliament or collapse of the government.

Mr. Netanyahu’s critics accuse him of prolonging war to stave off elections and a public reckoning for the government and military failures leading up to the attack of Oct. 7.

Riffing off Mr. Netanyahu’s stated war goal of “absolute victory” over Hamas, which many experts say is a vague and unattainable notion, Mr. Gantz said in his resignation speech on Sunday that a “real victory” would be one that combined military success and diplomatic initiative.

“Real victory,” he said, means “changing national priorities, expanding the circle of service and those serving, and ensuring Israel is able to contend with the challenges it faces.”

“Unfortunately, Netanyahu is preventing us from reaching a real victory,” he added.

Mr. Netanyahu responded in a social media post addressing Mr. Gantz, saying, “Israel is in an existential war on several fronts. Benny, this is not the time to abandon the campaign — this is the time to join forces.”

Now, analysts say, Mr. Netanyahu is likely to be mainly focused on keeping his narrow coalition together for the short term.

The summer session of Parliament ends in late July and the legislature will only reconvene after the Jewish High Holy Days in late October or November.

“Netanyahu has only one thing in mind,” said Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Maintaining his own power as prime minister.”

“His main aim is to drag this coalition just far enough into the autumn,” she said, so that the next Israeli election could only take place after the presidential election in the United States.

Mr. Netanyahu, she said, was likely hoping that Donald Trump, the candidate he views as most sympathetic to his causes, might then be elected.

That would mean that if he can get through the next six weeks, Mr. Netanyahu could live to fight another day.

Sunny Days in Moscow

In One Image Sunny Days
In Moscow By Nanna Heitmann

The storm blew in with these Russian military students. They had come to take in their country’s victories.

Yes, that is a U.S. flag on the tank, which was seized on the battlefields of Ukraine.

The students were on a class trip to Victory Park in Moscow to see the captured NATO equipment.

The patches are from the Moscow Aviation Center. Its graduates can enter the armed forces as junior officers, not as low-level conscripts.

The statue honors World War I soldiers, but today, Russians are being bombarded with stories of a new generation of heroes.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not gone as quickly as the Kremlin once predicted, but a recent visit by a group of military students to a park in Moscow was a much speedier affair.

Hit by a sudden blast of early May snow, their instructor moved his young charges quickly along, the sooner to get somewhere warm. But they did take the time to stop for photos in front of the captured enemy armaments on display.

Among the biggest trophies were M1 Abrams and Leopard tanks. Ukraine had hoped that the vaunted American- and German-made war machines would help turn its fortunes on the battlefield.

They have not.

Now, after two years of war, with the Kremlin’s early military stumbles in Ukraine receding in memory, the mood in Russia is increasingly upbeat.

“The word ‘victory’ is everywhere in Moscow these days,” a New York Times Russia correspondent, Valerie Hopkins, reported recently.

The students’ tour came just three days before Russia celebrated Victory Day, which commemorates the Nazi defeat in World War II. But they, like other Russians venturing out into the cold that day, were relishing their country’s more recent military successes.

Victory Park was originally built to commemorate the Russian defeat of Napoleon. It also displays military equipment from the Second World War.

The big draw when the students were visiting, however, were the NATO tanks captured in Ukraine. Many, including the Abrams, were seized in February, when Avdiivka, a longtime Ukrainian military stronghold, fell to the Russians.

“There has been so much talk about these Abrams, about these Leopards,” marveled one onlooker as he took in the neutered Western behemoths sitting idle in the Russian snow.

“They are all standing here,” he said. “We are looking at them.”

Written by Eric Nagourney.

In Calling Elections in France, Macron Makes a Huge Gamble

On the face of it, there is little logic in calling an election from a position of great weakness. But that is what President Emmanuel Macron has done by calling a snap parliamentary election in France on the back of a humiliation by the far right.

After the National Rally of Marine Le Pen and her popular protégé Jordan Bardella handed him a crushing defeat on Sunday in elections for the European Parliament, Mr. Macron might have done nothing. He might also have reshuffled his government, or simply altered course through stricter controls on immigration and by renouncing contested plans to tighten rules on unemployment benefits.

Instead, Mr. Macron, who became president at 39 in 2017 by being a risk taker, chose to gamble that France, having voted one way on Sunday, will vote another in a few weeks.

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Russia Releases Female Prison Inmates to Join Ukraine War

Russia released a group of women from a prison in late May to join the fighting in Ukraine, according to two former inmates who maintain contact with those still there, potentially signaling a new phase in the Kremlin’s use of criminals in its war effort.

Military recruiters collected several women from a prison outside St. Petersburg, said the former inmates, whose names are being withheld to protect them from possible retaliation. It is unclear if their release represents an isolated case, a pilot program or the start of a larger wave of recruitment of female inmates.

About 30,000 women were serving time in Russia at the start of the invasion.

Military recruiters began touring prisons for women across the European part of Russia last fall, more than a year after the country’s forces started offering convicted men pardons and salaries in return for combat service. Until now, however, convicted women who had enlisted remained incarcerated without an official explanation, according to interviews with former and current inmates of four Russian prisons for women.

Tens of thousands of imprisoned Russian men have taken up the military’s call, replenishing the country’s invasion force at a crucial moment in the war and helping it regain its military advantage over Ukraine. Thousands of them have been killed in Ukraine. Some who survived their military services and were discharged have since committed serious crimes, including homicide.

The recruitment of female convicts comes as the Russian government has resorted to increasingly unorthodox schemes to attract volunteers from the margins of Russian society, trying to avoid another round of unpopular conscription. Apart from prison inmates, these recruitment schemes have targeted debtors, people accused of crimes and foreigners.

Russia’s defense ministry and prison service have in the past left unanswered all requests for comment on the country’s prison recruitment program.

It is also unknown what roles the recruited women would assume at the front. The military recruiters who visited their prison near St. Petersburg last year offered inmates contracts for serving as snipers, combat medics and frontline radio operators for one year, a significant departure from the largely auxiliary positions occupied by most Russian servicewomen. About 40 of the prison’s 400 inmates signed up at the time.

They were offered pardons and the equivalent of about $2,000 a month, about 10 times the national minimum wage.

Two women who witnessed the recruitment at the prison last year told The New York Times that fellow inmates signed up despite the dangers outlined by the visiting military officers.

The former inmates said the strict conditions in Russia’s prisons for women had contributed to the decision of some women to enlist. Inmates at the prison near St. Petersburg had to remain silent at all times, and spent up to 12 hours a day doing compulsory labor at the jail’s sawing workshop, even in subzero temperatures in winter, the women said.

Convict soldiers are also being used by Ukraine. After long deriding Russia’s prison recruitment, the government in Kyiv authorized a similar scheme last month amid increasingly acute troop shortages. Ukrainian officials have said that thousands of convicts have applied to enlist since.

What to Know About France’s Snap Parliamentary Elections

President Emmanuel Macron threw French politics into disarray on Sunday when he unexpectedly called for snap elections.

The surprise move came after his party was battered by the far right in European Parliament elections. Mr. Macron dissolved the lower house of France’s Parliament and said the first round of legislative elections would be held on June 30.

France now finds itself in unpredictable territory, with the future of Mr. Macron’s second term potentially at stake. With less than a month to go before the poll, parties are now scrambling to field candidates, hone their messaging and, in some cases, forge alliances.

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European Parliament Elections: Key Takeaways

Voters in the 27 European Union member states sent a stern warning to mainstream political powers, wreaking havoc on French and, to a lesser degree, German politics and rewarding hard-line nationalist parties in a number of countries.

Even so, the radical right-wing wave dreaded by the European political establishment did not fully materialize; the center of European Union politics held.

Here are the most important trends emerging from the elections.

The mainstream center-right group, the European People’s Party, performed strongly and finished first, not only maintaining its dominance in the European Parliament but adding a few seats to boot.

It was a sign that its strategy over the past two years, to integrate more right-leaning policies in order to stop voters from abandoning for further-right rivals, delivered.

Over the past five years, the political group spearheaded the Green Deal, one of the world’s most ambitious climate change policies. But more recently, under pressure from farmers who represent an important constituency, it watered down some of the policies adopted at the E.U. level.

It also led a significant tightening of the European Union’s migration policy, going some, but not all the way, in assuaging concerns of voters who want to put a quick stop to irregular migration.

The conservatives’ thunder was somewhat stolen by a blockbuster performance by Marine Le Pen’s ultranationalist National Rally in France. They scored twice the support of a centrist coalition led by President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, prompting him to dissolve the National Assembly and call for snap legislative elections.

The Alternative for Germany, or AfD, an ultranationalist party that has been designated a “suspected” extremist group by the German authorities, soared to second place in the polls there, although trailing far behind the winner, the conservatives. It trumped Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, leaving him further weakened as he continues to struggle at the head of a shaky coalition.

The center-right’s strong performance was not replicated in the two other major European Parliament centrist groups. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, traditionally the second-biggest power in the house, maintained its strength and, more or less, the number of its seats. But the Liberals lost big, weakening the informal centrist coalition of pro-European Union powers that generally underpins the passage of legislation in the European Parliament, despite their differences.

Together, the three will control more than 400 seats in the new Parliament, which will be inaugurated on July 16. That seems a comfortable majority, but discipline in political group voting can at times be weak, and tactical alliances may be necessary down the line to ensure laws are passed. The first test of the new, weaker parliamentary majority, will be the confirmation of the European Commission president, the bloc’s top official, penciled in for July 18.

From a policy perspective, the electoral resilience of the centrist powers will translate into some continuity, particularly in preserving the European Union’s support of Ukraine.

The Greens were the night’s biggest losers: having performed well in 2019 and emerged as an important progressive power in the Parliament, they lost a quarter of their seats in the new elections.

This was largely foreseen: Voters switched out of the environmentally focused party for two key reasons. Environmentally minded voters found that the Green agenda had been, to a high degree, integrated in other bigger mainstream parties. In a way, the Greens had lost their unique selling point.

But other voters felt that the green agenda in Europe has gone too far, hurting farmers and more broadly rural voters.

Even so, the Greens could emerge as a reserve pool of support for the three centrists, despite their diminished seats.

The conservatives had, before the elections, floated the idea of roping in the European Conservatives and Reformists, a further right-wing group dominated by Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. This would have been a big no-no for the conservatives’ other centrist allies, especially those on the left and center left who view the group and Ms. Meloni as radicals in mainstream clothes.

With the centrist majority holding, the need to turn to Ms. Meloni and the members of European Parliament she controls, seems to have mostly evaporated for now. While the conservatives may still need to partner with this group in Parliament on a tactical basis, it appears unlikely that they will need to rely on them.

That said, Ms. Meloni remains a key European Union member state leader, with an outsize presence that has influenced the political landscape and already pulled many policies her way. She performed very well at home, quite unlike the leaders of the other major E.U. countries, reasserting her dominance.

In Germany, Far-Right Party Rises to 2nd Place in E.U. Election

The right-wing Alternative for Germany party won a record number of votes in European Parliament elections on Sunday, in a sharp rebuke to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing three-party coalition in Germany and a sign of the rightward political shift across the continent.

The party, known as AfD, captured 16 percent of the vote, placing second behind Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats, which won 30 percent. AfD performed nearly five percentage points better than it did in the 2019 elections and drew more voters than each of Germany’s three coalition parties. It was AfD’s strongest showing in a nationwide election, and it came as Mr. Scholz’s coalition has reached record-low levels of popularity in the country, according to polls.

On Monday, Alice Weidel, one of the AfD’s two leaders, demanded that Mr. Scholz call new parliamentary elections, just as President Emmanuel Macron of France did after his party’s dismal results. A spokesman for Mr. Scholz has ruled out early elections.

Describing her party’s showing a “major success,” Ms. Weidel said at a news conference in Berlin that the government was working against, not for, Germany. “People are tired of it,” she said.

The election results could have far-reaching consequences. Europe’s sweeping plans for a series of environmental initiatives called the Green Deal may lose traction, and adversaries of Mr. Scholz have already begun to question the legitimacy of his government. If the results of the E.U. elections are borne out, they argue, it could indicate that just a third of Germans support his three-way governing partnership.

Once a fringe group, the AfD is being watched by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency on suspicion of being “extremist.” Three-quarters of Germans say they believe that the party poses a threat to democracy. But outrage over the recent killing of a police officer in Mannheim, Germany, just days before the E.U. election, and the arrest of an Afghan immigrant suspected in the stabbing may have reignited the fears on which the AfD routinely capitalizes.

The AfD also had stronger results than in the past despite its two top candidates for E.U. posts having been forbidden to campaign after a series of public scandals. On top of that, millions of people took to the streets this year to protest the party’s anti-immigration stance, which includes a meeting attended by AfD members that discussed the mass deportation of immigrants.

“It’s remarkable that the party sort of rose again from the ashes,” said Sudha David-Wilp, regional director of the Berlin office of the German Marshall Fund. But discontent with the government, a robust base in eastern Germany (the AfD took the lead in all five states there in the E.U. vote) and the recent attack on the officer most likely propelled AfD forward, Ms. David-Wilp said.

“They’re not disappearing anytime soon from the German political landscape,” she added.

Though the numbers fell short of the polling highs predicted months ago, when it seemed that the party might capture close to 25 percent, AfD members celebrated the results on Sunday night.

Ms. Weidel attributed the outcome to disgust with the status quo. “People are fed up with the amount of bureaucracy they get from Brussels,” she told a German public broadcaster after the first projected results were announced on Sunday night.

As the results rolled in on Sunday evening, Mr. Scholz made an appearance at his Social Democratic Party headquarters in Berlin. But when asked by reporters if he wanted to comment, he responded, “Nope,” according to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The AfD’s fortunes seemed to have risen in concert with the fall of those of the Greens, an environmentally focused party for which Germany was once a stronghold. The Greens saw their vote share drop by nearly half, to about 12 percent, according to the preliminary results, from a high of more than 20 percent in the 2019 elections.

Emilia Fester, a Green party member of Parliament who is one of its youngest elected officials, said in an email: “Although the AfD has made gains, it is also clear that few young people have switched from us Greens to the AfD. Instead, many have voted for smaller parties that often have programs close to the Greens and are more focused on individual issues,” she said. “This gives me hope.”

This election was also the first time that 16- and 17-year-old Germans were permitted to vote, and AfD had major wins in the under-30 demographic, increasing its share of that electorate by 10 percent, results showed. The Greens, once supercharged by the activist Greta Thunberg and student protesters against climate change, saw an 18 percent drop-off of those voters.

“Younger voters tended to be more left-leaning and progressive in the past,” Florian Stoeckel, a professor of political science at the University of Exeter in England, said in an email. “However, this time, they turned right.”

He added that the AfD’s recent push to market itself on TikTok might have played a role.

“This is in line with recent findings that younger people, and especially younger men, across Europe tend to take more right-leaning positions,” Mr. Stoeckel said.

Ultimately, the results could be more of a symbolic victory for the AfD than one that will change the dynamics of the European Parliament. Last month, the party was expelled by the Identity and Democracy Party, a far-right group in the European Parliament, after Maximilian Krah, the AfD’s top E.U. candidate, made comments in May equivocating on just how evil the Nazi S.S. were.

On Monday, AfD members voted to oust Mr. Krah from its E.U. delegation. In the end, the party will send 14 people to Brussels — up from nine — whose power will be limited, excised as they are from any other far-right bloc in the Parliament.

Tatiana Firsova contributed reporting.

Aircraft Carrying Malawi’s Vice President Is Missing

A search is underway for a missing aircraft carrying the vice president of the southeastern African country of Malawi and nine other people, the country’s government said on Monday.

The vice president, Saulos Chilima, was traveling on a Malawi Defense Force aircraft that took off at 9:17 a.m. Monday from the capital, Lilongwe. But it missed a schedule landing at an airport in the north of the country, less than an hour’s flight away.

The aircraft was unable to land because of poor visibility caused by bad weather, Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, said in a televised address. The pilot was instructed to turn back, but within minutes, the aircraft disappeared from radar and the aviation authorities have been unable to establish contact with it.

“I know that this is a heartbreaking situation,” Mr. Chakwera said in a late briefing. “I know that we are all frightened and concerned.”

The president deployed a search and rescue operation that included both national and regional agencies, the government said in a statement. By the afternoon, rescuers had narrowed the potential crash site to a six-mile radius.

As darkness fell, military and police officers continued the search by vehicle and on foot, but struggled to comb through the thick forests in Malawi’s north, local news media reported. Despite these challenges, the search would continue until the plane was found, Mr. Chakwera said.

His government also reached out to neighboring countries in southern Africa for assistance. They were working with officials from the United States, Britain,Norway and Israel who could offer technological support, he added.

The vice president was on his way to attend the funeral of the country’s former attorney general, Ralph Kasambara.

Mr. Chilima, 51, was a telecommunications executive before entering Malawi’s political scene a decade ago. In late 2022, he became embroiled in a corruption scandal and was arrested by the country’s Anti-Corruption Bureau over accusations that he had received kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for government contracts.

He denied any wrongdoing, but the accusations tarnished a government that had sworn to clean up corruption in what is one of Africa’s poorest countries. Last month, the authorities in Malawi abandoned the case and withdrew all charges against Mr. Chilima.

He had been expected to launch a bid for the Malawian presidency in the 2025 election.

Once political rivals, Mr. Chakwera and Mr. Chilima formed a coalition in 2019 after losing an election marred by irregularities. The two candidates successfully challenged the result, and after a judicial panel ruled in their favor, the two men won a subsequent second vote in 2020 on the same ticket.

Battered by Far Right in E.U. Vote, Macron Calls for New Elections in France

President Emmanuel Macron of France, battered by a crushing defeat from the extreme right in European elections, dissolved the lower house of Parliament on Sunday and called for legislative elections beginning on June 30.

His decision, announced in a television broadcast to the nation, was a measure of the tumult created by Mr. Macron’s severe defeat in elections to the European Parliament. Projections gave the National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen and her wildly popular protégé, Jordan Bardella, about 31.5 percent of the vote, and Mr. Macron’s Renaissance party about 15.2 percent.

“The rise of nationalists and demagogues is a danger for our nation and for Europe,” Mr. Macron said. “After this day, I cannot go on as though nothing has happened.”

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A Reporter’s Work Helped Topple Presidents. Now He Is Being Investigated.

One of Latin America’s most celebrated journalists, whose work has toppled presidents and set off criminal investigations into government wrongdoing, was recovering from an aggressive bout of chemotherapy when he got more bad news: A Peruvian prosecutor was investigating him for bribery.

The journalist, Gustavo Gorriti, 76, the top editor at an investigative news media organization in Peru, is no stranger to trouble.

In the 1990s, he was kidnapped by members of a secret death squad that Peruvian investigators later determined was headed by former President Alberto Fujimori. Mr. Gorriti had spent years reporting on corruption and human rights violations by the Fujimori’s government.

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Their City Has a Plaque From Putin. They Want Zelensky to Tear It Down.

A small copper plaque mounted across the piazza from the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy, pledges “friendship and cooperation” between the city and the Russian people. It is signed by someone who, for the past two years in Europe, has pursued anything but: President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

The plaque is a replica of a letter Mr. Putin sent in 2003, nearly two decades before his invasion of Ukraine, and for years it drew little notice from Bari’s residents or the tens of thousands of pilgrims who visit the site annually to venerate the saint, whose remains are interred there. But a growing number of people now see it as sign of Mr. Putin’s hypocrisy — particularly among a diaspora of local Ukrainians who want it taken down.

The war will be among the most pressing issues that leaders of the world’s largest advanced economies and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine will discuss this week at an annual meeting of the Group of 7, which is being hosted by Italy and held just an hour down the road. For the many residents of Bari who have wanted the plaque removed since the war began, the gathering nearby is seen as a chance to enlist Mr. Putin’s fiercest international critics to their cause.

“Since Putin has been declared an international criminal, to have that plaque and to have his signature and his name on it, and display it proudly in front of the church, is offensive,” said Alessandro de Biase, a local businessman.

“If it was down to me, I would bring Zelensky here himself and ask him for help to take down the plaque,” Mr. de Biase said.

Bari has long maintained spiritual ties with Russia, Ukraine and other Slavic and Eastern Orthodox cultures through St. Nicholas, who is revered as a miracle worker, the patron saint of travelers and children and, among some, the original Santa Claus.

While St. Nicholas is originally from Myra, in modern-day Turkey, relics associated with him — primarily his bones — were moved to Bari in the late 11th century to protect them from tomb raiders. The relics are believed to have healing powers and to this day seem to excrete a watery liquid known as manna, and their transfer is celebrated each May by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians alike.

After his 2003 letter, which accompanied a statue of St. Nicholas that he gave to the city, Mr. Putin personally paid homage to the relics, housed in the crypt of the Roman Catholic basilica, in 2007. Two years later, Bari officials returned the gesture by transferring to Russia ownership of a local Orthodox church, also named for St. Nicholas.

In the decade that followed, Bari and the surrounding, picturesque Puglia region, on the Adriatic Sea, became an increasingly popular destination for Russian tourists and vacation-home owners. Just five years ago, Russians were among the top 10 nationalities to visit Puglia annually, according to the region’s tourism board. They are now not even in the top 20, due to travel restrictions that officials said stemmed at first from the pandemic in 2020 and then from the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

At the same time, more Ukrainians have begun to move to Puglia — either to escape the war or to join family members who were already there, said Fortunato Fortunato, a state police inspector who has lived in Bari for most of his life. As of Jan. 1, about 3,200 residents of Puglia identified as Ukrainian, compared to 860 Russians, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics.

And that, he said, has led to more people demanding that the copper plate bearing Mr. Putin’s name be removed.

“The voice has become bigger,” Mr. Fortunato said.

Previous campaigns to have the plaque removed have failed. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, about 12,000 people signed an online petition to have it taken down, but were rebuffed. Part of the problem is that it is not clear even to some local officials who is responsible for making that decision, although the basilica’s rector, Giovanni Distante, said the piazza where the plaque is mounted “falls under the direct responsibility” of the city government.

Bari’s mayor, Antonio Decaro, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In 2022, he defended the plaque, saying, “I’m not in favor of canceling a piece of history,” local news media reported at the time.

In an interview, Father Distante tried to navigate the dispute by instead focusing on the history of “promoting and re-establishing Christian unity” that St. Nicholas espoused, and pointedly noted that it was the Russian Orthodox church in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, that in 1095 established the commemoration of the relics now housed in Bari. It was a subtle acknowledgment of the rupture between the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and the traditional Russian patriarchy, led by an ally of Mr. Putin, that followed the 2022 invasion.

But, Father Distante said, St. Nicholas’s legacy of promoting “justice, truth, love, peace” also serves as an appropriate backdrop for the G7 meeting.

Last month, around 1,000 Orthodox pilgrims attended the annual services celebrating St. Nicholas at the Bari basilica, including some visitors from Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states, but mostly from the local population. In years past, officials said, the celebration drew more than 10,000 people, about one-third of them from Russia.

Hosting the G7 gathering on the heels of what had long drawn Russian pilgrims to the area presents “two events that look sort of contradictory,” said Luigi Narbone, a former diplomat and geopolitics analyst at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. But, he said, Mr. Putin’s plaque was a symbol of an era of warmer diplomacy, and warned against anything that could upend Puglia’s place as “the bridge between the West and the East” among private citizens.

“It’s very important to keep those channels open,” Mr. Narbone said, “because the people-to-people dimension is what will make them facilitate, in the long run, resolutions to conflict when the right time comes.”

At the basilica, few of the pilgrims or other visitors during the Orthodox celebration last month noticed the plaque or stopped to look at it. But among those who did, many took pictures that focused tightly on Mr. Putin’s name in the lower right-hand corner.

Ivan Kristian Zheliznyak, 21, a Russian who lives in Germany and has family in Ukraine, said he was aware of the copper plate before he arrived, but thought little of it.

“Maybe they can divide us with ideas, but nobody can divide our souls,” he said. “Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian are one man, one soul. So they can do all the things they want, the elites, but nobody will destroy our souls.”

Father Distante said that the plaque’s message reflected “a tangible sign of hope and universal brotherhood.” The push to have it removed, he said, was “an opinion expressed by private individuals which, however respectable, still remains a personal opinion.”

“Do you know what is the virtue of the one who has the ecumenical responsibility?” he asked with a smile. “Patience.”

Biden Visits a Military Cemetery in France That Trump Once Snubbed

There is trolling. And then there is presidential trolling.

President Biden on Sunday wrapped up a five-day visit to France by making a point to visit a cemetery for American soldiers killed in World War I. That, of course, is the kind of thing that presidents typically do.

But this particular cemetery was the same one that President Donald J. Trump was supposed to visit in 2018 before canceling, citing the rain, and touching off a political furor. For Mr. Biden — running against Mr. Trump again — visiting the cemetery was meant to send a message to voters back home.

“America showed up,” he said. “America showed up.”

Mr. Biden was talking about the United States military during World War I. But he might as well have been talking about Mr. Trump’s refusal to show up six years ago.

Asked directly what he was trying to say about his rival in this year’s presidential race, Mr. Biden paused for a moment.

“Any other questions?” he said.

But the decision to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, at the foot of the hill where the Battle of Belleau Wood was fought, was no accident. Having already spent two days in Normandy paying tribute to American soldiers who landed on the beaches there on D-Day in 1944, Mr. Biden certainly did not need to add another event honoring veterans. But evidently the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Neither Mr. Biden nor Mr. Trump ever served in the military, and both have had their disagreements with generals as commander in chief. But Mr. Biden’s son Beau Biden served in the Army in Iraq and the president has expressed strong feelings of attachment to veterans. Mr. Trump, by contrast, has often denigrated those who have served, a point that Mr. Biden wanted to draw attention to by his visit on Sunday.

“Every time I show up at a military site where veterans are buried, it brings back memories of hearing my grandfather and my mother talk about the loss of a son and brother in the South Pacific,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Sunday after placing a wreath near the cemetery’s chapel. “And I think about my son Beau.”

He also used the moment to indirectly tweak Mr. Trump, who has championed an America-first ideology and mocked NATO’s role as the protector of Europe, and who as president pulled the United States out of international compacts.

“The idea that we’re able to avoid being engaged in major battles in Europe — it’s just not realistic,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s why it’s so important that we continue to have the alliances we have. Continue to keep NATO strong.”

As a candidate in 2015, Mr. Trump scorned Senator John McCain’s war service and privately often sounded disrespectful toward others who volunteered for military service.

“Anyone who went to that war was a sucker,” he was quoted saying about Vietnam by John F. Kelly, his second White House chief of staff and a retired Marine general. “I don’t know why you guys think these guys who get killed or wounded are heroes. They’re losers.” Mr. Trump has denied calling soldiers “suckers” and “losers.”

Mr. Trump, who avoided service in Vietnam through a diagnosis of bone spurs in his feet that a New York Times report found may have come from a doctor as a courtesy to his father, made clear during his presidency that he believed the military owed its loyalty to him personally.

He told aides privately that he did not want wounded soldiers in a military parade because it did not look good and asked Mr. Kelly why his generals could not be more loyal, “like the German generals” serving Hitler in World War II. Since leaving office, Mr. Trump has publicly suggested that Gen. Mark A. Milley, whom he appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might deserve to be executed for not being loyal enough to him.

The cemetery flap came during a trip in November 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. Mr. Trump was unhappy when he discovered he had been scheduled to visit two cemeteries for American soldiers, and when it rained, he canceled the first one.

Aides said at the time that the rain made flying to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery by helicopter problematic, and that traveling by car would have taken two hours and snarled Paris traffic. Mr. Kelly went by road in his place, along with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Mr. Trump did visit another cemetery, the Suresnes American Cemetery, just outside Paris, as scheduled the next day, but by that point, it was too late to avoid the predictable political blowback.

Where New Tent Cities Are Rising in Central Gaza


A growing area of central Gaza is filling up with tents, satellite imagery shows, as Palestinians who fled south to Rafah to escape danger have picked up their possessions and moved yet again in search of safety.

Most Gazans in Rafah began leaving in early May, after the Israeli military, preparing for its ground operation in the south, issued evacuation orders for the eastern part of the city.

But another exodus began toward the end of the month, after an Israeli strike that local authorities said killed dozens of people at a displaced camp. Israel said the strike targeted a Hamas compound. An attack at the nearby area of Al-Mawasi two days later killed 21 more people sheltering there, Gazan officials say. Israel has insisted that it has not attacked the areas it has designated as “humanitarian zones,” where evacuating Gazans have been instructed to go.

In all, more than one million Gazans — nearly half the territory’s total population — have now fled Rafah, according to the United Nations. Many have been displaced repeatedly.

When the Israeli military issued its evacuation orders for Rafah in early May, it instructed Palestinians to go to a “humanitarian zone” that it designated along the Gazan coast. The zone extends from south of Khan Younis to Deir al Balah in the north.

Some people sheltering in western Rafah also began packing up, even though the area was not named in the evacuation order. In satellite imagery captured late last month, few tents could be seen there.

As Rafah emptied, Palestinians fled to coastal areas in the governorates of Khan Younis and Deir al Balah, an area that roughly aligns with the humanitarian zone declared by the Israeli military.

The pace of resettlement sped up in the aftermath of the deadly strike that killed dozens in the camp for displaced people.

Even before Israel began its ground operation in Rafah, many Palestinians had sought shelter in central Gaza, near Deir al Balah. But some of the coastline remained largely empty.

Now, tents and temporary shelters fill nearly 12 continuous miles of coastline, stretching from near Wadi Gaza in the north toward the border with Egypt in the south. With space at a premium, some people have been forced to pitch their tents just meters away from the waves.

For the First French Town Liberated on D-Day, History Is Personal

Reporting from Ste.-Mère-Église, France

American soldiers in uniforms spill out from the bars and cafes all around June 6 Square, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

Phil Collins blares from loudspeakers. American flags flutter from chimneys and windows, on overhead lines and even from around the neck of a golden retriever trotting by with her owner.

Is this really France?

“This is the 53rd state,” Philippe Nekrassoff, a local deputy mayor, said as he made his way across the square, with its Roman milestone and medieval church, while U.S. paratroopers wearing maroon berets played soccer with a group of local teenagers. “Americans are at home here.”

Here is Ste.-Mère-Église, a slip of a town in northwest Normandy with one main street. About 3,000 residents live in the town and its surrounding region, with its fields of cows and towering hedges.

Hundreds of U.S. paratroopers landed in the immediate area in the early hours of June 6, 1944. Four hours later — even before the world’s largest armada arrived to the nearby Normandy beaches — one of those soldiers hauled down the Nazi flag and hoisted an American one up over city hall.

“This was the first town to be liberated on the western front,” read two marble plaques, one in French and one in English, in front of the building.


The story of that liberation is now deeply threaded into the town’s identity.

While most villages across Normandy hold annual D-Day commemorations, little Ste.-Mère-Église hosts six parades, 10 ceremonies, 11 concerts and a parachute jump by current U.S. paratroopers.

Statues, plaques and historical panels dot many street corners. Shops have names like D-Day, Bistrot 44 and Hair’born salon. There’s a mannequin of John Steele, the American paratrooper immortalized in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” hanging from the church steeple as he did on June 6, 1944, his parachute billowing.

At first blush, the town seems, well, too unabashedly and in-your-face American for a country that revels in self-criticism and understatement.

But stick around a bit, and the town reveals a relationship with U.S. paratroopers that is deep, sincere and disarmingly beautiful.

“There is a sense of welcome here that’s nothing like anything else in the region,” said Jacques Villain, a photographer who has documented the village’s celebration for 25 years and was the driving force behind the just-published bilingual book “Ste.-Mère-Église: We Will Remember Them.”

The town’s first D-Day commemoration was small and took place two months later, while the war in Europe was still raging, he pointed out. On the first anniversary of D-Day, Maj. Gen. James Gavin, by then the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, sent 30 soldiers back from Germany for the ceremonies.

Just after midnight on June 6, 1944, wave after wave of low-flying airplanes roared over Ste.-Mère-Église and the surrounding area. Spilling from them were thousands of parachutes, flitting across the sky like confetti.

One parachute floated right down into a trench dug in Georgette Flais’ backyard, where she was huddled with her parents and a neighbor. Attached to it was Cliff Maughan. Ms. Flais refers to him as “our American.”

“He represented, for me, something extraordinary — liberation,” said Ms. Flais, now 96.

She recalled how the German soldier billeted in her house burst into view, his rifle pointed into the trench. Ms. Flais’ father jumped up and begged the German not to shoot. Miraculously, he agreed.

Soon after, the German soldier realized the Americans had taken the town and surrendered to Mr. Maughan, who Ms. Flais described as preternaturally calm, handing out chewing gum, chocolate and cigarettes. He curled up on his parachute for a quick nap before heading out at dawn to fight.

“We kissed him warmly goodbye,” Ms. Flais said. “A friendship was born.”

As the first place to be liberated, Ste.-Mère-Église quickly became the place where fallen American soldiers were first buried — 13,800 in three fields turned cemeteries around the village. Local men dug the graves.

“It was just a little village of 1,300 inhabitants,” said Marc Lefèvre, the town’s mayor for 30 years who left office in 2014. “They were witness to the price of sacrifice, with all those trucks of coffins. That left a huge impact.”

One of the graves was for Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who died of a heart attack five weeks after landing on Utah Beach. He was the eldest son of Theodore Roosevelt, the former U.S. president.

Simone Renaud, the mayor’s wife, was captured laying flowers on his tomb by a Life magazine photographer.

The reaction from grieving mothers in the United States was immediate. Hundreds sent Ms. Renaud letters, pleading for her to visit their son’s graves and send back photos. She complied.

Henri-Jean Renaud, 89, recently flipped through albums of carefully sorted letters to his mother, written in longhand, from 80 years ago.

Some of the women later came to visit the graves themselves. They ate dinner with the Renauds and sometimes stayed in their home. “I am still in touch with a family that had a kid my age,” Mr. Renaud said.

He still visits the grave of one soldier “from time to time, to say a little hello to him,” he said.

Years later, American veterans began to make pilgrimages to Ste.-Mère-Église for its annual D-Day commemorations.

The town had only one hotel, since renamed after Mr. Steele. So Ms. Renaud, who died in 1988, formed the Friends of American Veterans association, and many locals joined and hosted the visitors in their homes.

Volunteers spent afternoons driving around, trying to help the veterans find the exact spot in a field or marsh or tree where they first landed.

“For most of them, it was there they had their first losses, their first powerful emotions, the first friend killed, the first wounded,” Mr. Renaud said. “Those are things that mark you for life. So they were always trying to find that beginning.”

By 1984, Ms. Flais was teaching Greek and Latin in a high school in Alençon, about 140 miles away. On June 6 of that year, she was watching television when she saw on the screen an American soldier who had come back to Ste.-Mère-Église. He was broader, and wore a baseball hat instead of a helmet. But he had that same laid-back demeanor. She jumped in the car and rushed back to her childhood town.

“It was my American,” she said. “We fell into one another’s arms.”

Today, 80 years later, there are few veterans left. Their successors now crowd the town square, where Mr. Steele and his fellow World War II parachutists are celebrated and remembered as veritable gods.

They are joined by the thousands of re-enactment enthusiasts, tourists and French citizens who come to pay their respects.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Jonathan Smith, 43, whose trip here was a retirement present after 18 and a half years of service with the 82nd Airborne Division. “I didn’t make it 10 paces this morning without kids stopping me to ask for a photo and shake my hand.”

.

The local tourism office is expecting one million people to come into town over the 10 days of commemorations and celebrations this year.

Among them are the children and grandchildren of the Americans who were in charge on D-Day, from General Roosevelt Jr. to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander in chief of the Allied forces.

“I find I need to be here and be a part of it,” said Chloe Gavin, the daughter of General Gavin, who himself came back regularly before he died.

On a recent night, local families welcomed more than 200 American soldiers into their homes for dinner.

Across the street from city hall, where the American flag that soldiers hung up in 1944 now hangs framed on a wall, three generations of the Auvray family sat in their garden with three U.S. paratroopers from Puerto Rico. The family matriarch, Andrée Auvray, regaled them with her memories of D-Day.

She was nine months pregnant and living on a horse farm just outside town that had been requisitioned by a battalion of soldiers with the German army. Just days before the Allies’ landing, the soldiers departed for Cherbourg, France, convinced the Allies would attack there, she said.

“We were so lucky,” said Ms. Auvray, now 97 and a great-grandmother of 13. “It would have been a blood bath.”

Three American paratroopers landed in her garden.

An American military hospital was quickly erected next door. Her farm became the health clinic and a temporary home for civilians, fleeing the battle that ensued after German troops tried to retake Ste.-Mère-Église. They fed 120 people for a month. She gave birth to her son, Michel-Yves, on a camp bed because her bed had been given to the injured.

Michel-Yves will turn 80 soon.

Ms. Auvray described the missiles exploding nearby, the gnawing fear that the Germans would retake the town and her gratitude that they did not.

“We lived through such anguish together,” she said of the American soldiers and French residents. “That’s why we have such a precious relationship.”

In the West Bank, Guns and a Locked Gate Signal a Town’s New Residents

Ben Hubbard reported from two towns in the occupied West Bank, the Arab-Palestinian community of Tuqu and the Jewish-Israeli settlement of Tekoa.

From the outskirts of his town in the West Bank, the mayor surveyed the rocky hills stretching toward the Dead Sea where Palestinians had long farmed and herded, and pointed out the new features of the landscape.

New guard posts manned by Israeli soldiers. New roads patrolled by Israeli settlers. And, most tellingly, a new metal gate blocking the town’s sole road to those areas, installed and locked by the Israeli army to keep Palestinians out.

“Anyone who goes to the gate, they either arrest him or kill him,” said the mayor, Moussa al-Shaer, of the town of Tuqu.

On the other side of the gate, atop a bald hill in the distance, stood one of the area’s new residents, Abeer Izraeli, a Jewish settler.

“With God’s help, we will stay here a long time,” Mr. Izraeli said.

The case of the two people on either side of the gate is a particularly clear example of a dynamic playing out across the Israeli-occupied West Bank. As much of the world has focused on the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers miles away in the West Bank have hastened the rate at which they are seizing land previously used by Palestinians, rights groups say.

Dror Etkes, a field researcher with Kerem Navot, an Israeli monitoring group, estimated that since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that started the war in Gaza, settlers have taken more than 37,000 acres of land from Palestinians across the West Bank. More than 550 of those acres are near Tuqu, making it the largest such expansion by a single Israeli settlement.

The gate is not much to look at — made of orange bars and similar to what one might find on a farm. But Hebrew graffiti on the concrete blocks that hold it up refer to Genesis 21:10, a verse about driving people away.

Since the gate’s installation in October, it has served as a firm divider between the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of Tuqu and the Israeli Jews in the newly expanded settlement of Tekoa.


Map locates the West Bank villages of Tuqu and Tekoa.

Both communities draw their names from where, tradition holds, the biblical prophet Amos was born. In some places, homes in one community sit 500 yards from homes in the other. When the Muslim call to prayer sounds in Tuqu, the Jews in Tekoa hear it, too.

The catalyst for the recent seizures, said Mr. Etkes, was the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, which led to increased Israeli security measures in the West Bank that made it easier for settlers to take control of territory.

“There is a linkage between violence and settler expansion,” he said. “They are taking revenge on the Palestinians by taking more and more land.”

Israel increased its military presence in the West Bank out of concern that it could face widespread unrest or increased attacks on its forces and settlers there during the war in Gaza. Those concerns were amplified by the rise of new militant groups, an influx of weapons smuggled in by Iran and polling that suggests an increase in support for Hamas at the expense of the more moderate Palestinian Authority.

On Jan. 29, a Palestinian from Tuqu, Rani al-Shaer, 19, tried to stab an Israeli soldier and was shot dead by soldiers, the army said in a statement. The army took Mr. al-Shaer’s body and has not returned it to the family, said his brother, Nizar.

The Israeli military and the branch of the Defense Ministry that handles civilian affairs in the West Bank did not respond to requests for comment on the changes near Tuqu.

The United Nations said that 2023 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since it began keeping track in 2005. That violence rose significantly after the war in Gaza began and has continued into this year, with 489 Palestinians killed since Oct. 7 as of May 22. Ten Israelis, including four civilians, have been killed during the same period.

Since Israel occupied the West Bank, previously controlled by Jordan, in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the government has encouraged Jews to settle there, providing land, military protection, electricity, water and roads. More than 500,000 settlers now live among 2.7 million Palestinians in the territory, which is larger than Delaware but smaller than Puerto Rico.

Some Israeli Jews justify settlement on religious grounds, others on the basis of history — both ancient and modern. Many Israelis consider control of the territory necessary to prevent Palestinians from attacking Israel.

Nevertheless, most countries consider the settlements illegal. The Biden administration has criticized the settlements for undermining the United States’ goal of a two-state solution to the conflict, which would include the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Among Israelis, Tekoa is known for a hippy vibe, with a mixed community of secular and religious Jews that includes artists and activists. Few, if any, of the town’s residents consider their presence an impediment to peace.

“We were given this land by God,” said Shira Chernoble, 75, who moved from New Mexico to the West Bank nearly four decades ago and works in Tekoa as a massage therapist and spiritual counselor. “I believe in the Torah. It is not just a book of then. It is a book of now.”

Before the war in Gaza, the two populations had limited interactions, mostly through the Palestinian laborers who worked construction in the Jewish town. Settlers have seized land to expand their community over the decades — a process that took another leap forward after the Oct. 7 attack.

The Israeli military mobilized thousands of reservist settlers to protect the settlements and imposed wide-ranging restrictions on Palestinians, blocking the exits from their communities and barring Palestinian workers from entering Israel or the settlements.

That cut off residents of Tuqu from a major source of employment, said Mr. al-Shaer, the mayor. In addition, the gate has prevented Palestinian farmers from harvesting their olives and herders from grazing their livestock.

“They closed everything and took everything,” said Hassan al-Shaer, 24, an electrician who is not closely related to the mayor and who used to work in Tekoa. “There is no work and no money.”

In October, after the gate was erected, residents gathered to breach the barrier and the army shot at them, killing a 26-year-old car mechanic, Eissa Jibril, said his brother, Murad.

He said the Israeli police had questioned him about what happened, but nothing had come of it.

“Who can I complain to?” he said. “The settler who killed him, are they going to arrest him?”

In a statement, the Israeli military described the gathering as “a violent riot” during which “terrorists burned tires, threw stones and shot fireworks” at soldiers, threatening their lives. The soldiers fired back, the army said, adding that it was aware of the “claim” that a Palestinian had been killed.

Since then, the Palestinians have avoided the gate for fear of being shot.

During a recent drive through the area, New York Times reporters saw new roads carved into the hillsides, four new security posts and three plots where settlers had plowed or planted grapes. What had been a settler tent camp now had 10 prefab houses, with electricity, paved roads and streetlights.

Atop a tall hill, Mr. Izraeli and his friends slept in a tent next to a makeshift house inhabited by a couple with two young children. The group raised ducks and chickens and pastured their 150 sheep on the same hills the Palestinian shepherds had roamed before the war.

Mr. Izraeli, 16, had come to the West Bank after dropping out of a religious school in central Israel, he said. He and his friends had lived in a tent camp nearby before moving to the hilltop a few months ago, after the army had barred Palestinians from the area.

He hoped the army would not let them return.

“With God’s help, they will do the right thing and keep them out,” he said.

In response to written questions, Mayor Yaron Rosenthal of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which includes Tekoa, said the Arabs from Tuqu never had a legal claim to the land. The settlers, he said, had rectified that situation.

“These aren’t their lands,” he added.

The Palestinians had few options, said Mr. al-Shaer, the mayor. Most complaints to the Israeli authorities went nowhere. He and other residents planned to file a court case in Israel, a long process that might not restore their access to the land or stop the settlers from building there.

“The settlers are working on the ground to make a new reality,” he said.

Rami Nazzal contributed reporting from Tuqu, West Bank, and Gabby Sobelman from Tekoa, West Bank.

‘Not Everything Was Bad’: Saluting the Mercedes of Eastern Europe and a Communist Past

As the beige car bounced up to the former Soviet barracks, the rattling of its half-century-old motor overpowered the din of people setting up for the day’s festivities at a temporary fairground.

A man dressed in the dark green uniform of a 1950s traffic cop, replete with an old-fashioned leather cap, blew his whistle sharply and waved the car — a well-maintained 1980 Wartburg, a classic despite the engine’s clatter — through to the parking lot.

The driver of the little sedan, once considered the Mercedes of Eastern Europe, slipped the clutch, jolting the car forward. The lapse earned a rebuke from a costumed parking attendant.

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Amateur Historians Heard Tales of a Lost Tudor Palace. Then, They Dug It Up.

For generations, residents of Collyweston — a village in central England snuggled up against the River Welland — passed down stories of a grand Tudor palace, of royal processions through the valley below, of the mother of a king who had called it home.

Over hundreds of years, the stories persisted, even as memory of the palace’s whereabouts faded. But the lore suddenly came to life when a handful of amateur historians unearthed portions of the long-lost palace, buried under a few feet of soil. Historians from the University of York have verified their findings.

“We are a small village with a small group of enthusiasts, and what we’ve basically achieved here is nothing short of a miracle,” said Chris Close, 49, the chairman of the Collyweston Historical and Preservation Society. “You know, it’s not every day you get to dig up a part of your country’s past.”

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When a Tale of Migration Is Not Just Fiction

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Reporting from a movie screening in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, Senegal.

The two teenagers on the screen trudging through the endless dunes of the Sahara on their way to Europe were actors. So were the fellow migrants tortured in a bloodstained Libyan prison.

But to the young man watching the movie one recent evening in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, the cinematic ordeal felt all too real. His two brothers had undertaken the same journey years ago.

“This is why they refused to send me money to take that route,” said Ahmadou Diallo, 18, a street cleaner. “Because they had seen firsthand how dangerous it is.”

Critics in the West have praised the film “Io Capitano” — nominated for the 2024 Academy Award for best international feature film — noting its visceral yet tender look at migration to Europe from Africa. It is now showing in African countries, and is hitting close to home in Senegal. That’s where the two main characters in the movie embark on an odyssey that epitomizes the dreams and hardships of countless more hoping to make it abroad.

Last month, the film’s crew and its director, Matteo Garrone, took “Io Capitano” to a dozen places in Senegal where migration isn’t fiction. They screened it in youth centers, in schools, even on a basketball court turned outdoor movie theater in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, where Mr. Diallo and hundreds of others watched it at sunset on a big screen.

“Io Capitano” tells the story of Seydou and Moussa, two endearing cousins who leave Dakar after months of planning, spending all of the savings they earned through straining work on a construction site.

But what begins as an exciting road trip quickly turns into a perilous expedition as the teenagers find themselves in the hands of careless smugglers, then under the control of armed robbers and cruel jailers, before they reach the deadliest step of their travels, the crossing of the Mediterranean.

Seydou, the lead character, ends up captaining the ship taking them and hundreds of other migrants to Italy. The movie never shows them reaching the shore, but when a helicopter from the Italian coast guard hovers over the boat, the viewer is tempted to believe that they will be rescued and that part of their troubles are over.

On the basketball court, some gasped in horror when bandits opened fire on a group of migrants on the screen. Others hid their eyes with their head scarves during scenes of torture.

“People know there’s a risk to lose their lives” in seeking to migrate to Europe, Mr. Garrone said. “But they haven’t seen what it’s like.”

Senegal’s youth make up the majority of its 17 million people, but its fast-growing economy has struggled to offer them jobs with decent pay. Thousands leave every year through the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean, and deadly accidents are frequent. Increasingly, those who can afford it fly to Central America, hoping to reach the United States that way.

Senegal’s new president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, has promised to improve the economy by financing small businesses and strengthening traineeships in farming, fishing and industrial jobs. Natural gas and oil reserves are expected to turn the tiny coastal country into a hydrocarbon power in Africa.

But in Guédiawaye, where newly built houses sit on sandy streets next to crumbling shelters filled with flies and no access to running water, many young men said they weren’t expecting major changes.

Mr. Diallo, the street cleaner, said he wanted to join his brothers in Paris. He showed videos on his phone of himself and dozens of others in the Atlantic last summer, during one of his two previous — and unsuccessful — attempts to reach Europe.

A few feet away, Barra Gassama, 18, watched “Io Capitano” with sometimes teary eyes. A decade ago, he said, he picked up the phone at home to hear from a stranger that his older brother had died on his way to Spain. “That call changed our lives,” he said in a whisper. “This reminds me so much of him,” he added, staring at the screen.

Despite his brother’s death, Mr. Gassama’s mother later encouraged him to try to leave, too. But he said he had instead chosen to try to make it at home, working hard as a baker, earning up to $6 a day, six days a week.

In the movie, Seydou and Moussa leave Dakar without telling their families. But some of those watching the film said they were having open conversations with their relatives about migration.

Pape Alioune Ngom, 18, a welder, said a few hours before the screening that he was trying to persuade his parents to let him go to Europe. He swore that he wouldn’t leave without their blessing. “What’s there for us here?” he asked. “We all have migration in mind.”

Studies have shown that people aspiring to migrate often ignore warnings about the dangers of trying to enter countries illegally. But Mr. Garrone, the director, said the movie wasn’t intended to persuade people not to undertake the trip.

“I’m mostly hoping to help young people in Senegal realize that once they’ve left their home, they become part of a system that they can’t really get out of,” he said.

To depict the system of smugglers and exploitation, Mr. Garrone worked with Mamadou Kouassi, a social worker now working with migrants in Italy, who spent three and a half years trying to reach Europe from his native Ivory Coast. Mr. Kouassi’s experiences inspired most of Seydou’s and Moussa’s story line in the movie.

Mr. Kouassi also attended the screening, where he stared at the spectators who were laughing at the two young heroes trying to hide cash inside their bodies before beginning their trek through the Sahara.

“They have no idea how Europe and Italy are treating us on the other side,” Mr. Kouassi said.

The first tragedy in the movie followed shortly after, when a migrant fell off a pickup truck and the driver kept racing in the desert, to the horror of the other passengers grabbing onto wooden sticks to avoid meeting the same fate.

The audience fell silent.

Seydou Sarr, 19, and Moustapha Fall, 20, the two actors who play the cousins in the movie, have been touring film festivals in the West, wearing designer clothes at the Oscars and chilling in luxury hotels across Europe, a world away from the lives in Senegal they themselves left a few years ago. Their journey was a little different; they were cast in the film in Dakar, and later moved to Italy, where Mr. Garrone lives.

Mr. Sarr, who won the best young actor award at the Venice Film Festival, said he wanted to continue acting.

For now, they both live in Rome with Mr. Garrone’s mother, and Mr. Garrone said he worried about them. “They get up at 3 p.m., and my mother does the cooking and everything for them,” he said. “They’re kids.”

After the screening, Ndeye Khady Sy, the actress starring as Seydou’s mother, urged the audience to stay in Senegal. “You can succeed here,” she said.

But Mr. Ngom, the welder, had left the basketball grounds.

So had Mr. Diallo, the street cleaner, who said he would try reaching Europe for the third time this summer.

Ukrainian Activist Traces Roots of War in ‘Centuries of Russian Colonization’

On a recent afternoon in Kyiv, a professor of literature and a stand-up comedian ​got together to talk about Russian colonialism, a subject that has become ​a preoccupation among Ukrainian activists, cultural figures and bookstore owners.

​The moderator of the discussion, which was recorded for a new podcast for Ukraine’s national public broadcaster, was Mariam Naiem, a graphic designer and former philosophy student who has become an unlikely expert on the topic.

“This war is just the continuation of centuries of Russian colonization,” said Ms. Naiem, 32, ​referring to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. “It’s the same playbook.”

Russia’s long cultural and political domination of Ukraine, first through its empire and then the Soviet Union, had left an indelible mark, the podcast guests agreed, as they lamented being more fluent in Russian poems and films than in their own nation’s cultural treasures.

The goal of the podcast, Ms. Naiem said, was to solve this problem and “talk about our personal and social path of decolonization.”

It may have seemed an odd moment of cultural introspection in a war-battered country with urgent problems like how to repel Russian troops advancing along the front line.

But Ms. Naiem and many Ukrainians say that to understand Russia’s war in Ukraine — and its trail of razed cities, displaced children and looted museums — it is crucial to examine how Russia has long exerted its influence over their country.

The daughter of a Ukrainian mother and an Afghan father, Ms. Naiem is emblematic of a new generation of Ukrainians who, since Moscow invaded in February 2022, have been trying to rebuild their identity free of Russian influence. Much of this effort has focused on examining Russia’s history in Ukraine and highlighting its colonial imprint.

They have read famous theorists of decolonization like Edward Said and Frantz Fanon, talked of “decolonizing Ukraine” in Harvard lecture halls and gone on book tours around Europe to press their case.

Ms. Naiem has emerged as a leading voice in this movement. She studied philosophy at the Kyiv-based Taras Shevchenko National University and has also done a stint as a researcher with Jason Stanley, a professor of philosophy at Yale University.

Last year, she hosted an award-winning podcast on the theoretical foundations of Russian colonialism. In addition to the new podcast she is currently recording, she is now writing a book to help Ukrainians “decolonize” themselves, she said.

“She has seriously influenced me intellectually,” Mr. Stanley told Babel.ua, a Ukrainian online news outlet, last year. He added that she convinced him that Ukraine’s post-colonial history was not being studied enough and that “it should be changed.”

That is not an easy task. To call Russia a colonial empire is to challenge decades of scholarship that has shied away from viewing Russia’s history through a colonial prism. Russia’s shared history with Ukraine is complex and less marked by relations of racial hierarchy and economic subjugation typical of colonialism, many scholars have argued.

But Ms. Naiem and others say Russia’s centuries-long efforts to impose its language on Ukraine, occupy its territory with settlers and rewrite its history from Moscow’s perspective are all hallmarks of colonialism.

Ms. Naiem said it took the war for Ukrainians to take stock of this legacy and finally begin to “decolonize” themselves. She cited the example of the many people who have switched from speaking Russian to Ukrainian.

“This is exactly a decolonial act,” she said.

While many Ukrainians have devoted their time to raising money for the army or rebuilding destroyed houses, Ms. Naiem’s activism has been more intellectual, focused on deconstructing Russian influences, including those that shaped her.

She was born into a Russian-speaking family in Kyiv in 1992. Her father was a former education minister in Afghanistan who left Kabul after the Soviet invasion in 1979. She has two brothers, Mustafa, a leading figure of Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution, and Masi, who lost an eye fighting Russian troops in 2022.

When she grew up in a newly independent Ukraine in the 1990s, the country’s cultural scene was dominated by Russian music, TV shows and books.

At school, classes were in Ukrainian, but “it wasn’t cool” to speak it in the playground, she said. Russian literature was also “cooler” than Ukrainian literature, she recalled thinking, “more mysterious, more complicated.” Some of the novels she read belittled Ukrainians as uneducated people.

“Turgenev pushed me to consider myself more Russian than Ukrainian,” Ms. Naiem wrote on Instagram two years ago, referring to the 19th-century Russian novelist. “Because I didn’t want to be that funny Ukrainian.”

It took Ms. Naiem many years, and many new books, to shake off these views.

During the pandemic, she buried herself in “Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism,” a book by the Polish American scholar Ewa Thompson that argues that writers like Pushkin and Tolstoy helped legitimized Russia’s colonial ambitions.

“I realized that centuries of colonialism had seeped into my mind,” Ms. Naiem said.

After the Russian invasion, she wrote about her research on her Instagram page, which is followed by 22,000 people, arguing that Russia’s efforts to erase Ukrainian culture and identity are rooted in a long history of colonialism.

Her posts attracted attention and persuaded her to spread the word further. In addition to her podcasting, she has given interviews to Ukrainian media on colonialism and filled her Instagram page with more posts, questioning, for example, the place of Mikhail Bulgakov, a Kyiv-born Soviet writer who ridiculed Ukrainians, in Ukrainian school curricula.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

On a recent afternoon at a music festival in Kyiv, a passer-by thanked her for her efforts, one of several people that day who told her they had learned a lot from her podcasts.

Still, much of her time remains spent trying to convince people that talking of Russian colonialism is relevant.

Volodymyr Yermolenko, a Ukrainian philosopher, said the topic had long been viewed with skepticism.

Unlike Western colonies, which were often far-distant, overseas places, Russian colonies were adjacent territories, he said. Russian colonialism also never made racial exclusion a core policy, he added. Instead, it was based on the no-less violent “idea of sameness,” meaning that the colonized should surrender their identity and adopt the norms of the colonizer.

Mr. Yermolenko said colonial motives were evident in President Vladimir V. Putin’s claim that Ukrainians and Russians were “one people.”

“People long didn’t want to hear about Russian colonialism,” Mr. Yermolenko said. “Only now are we kind of seeing the first steps of intellectual debunking.”

Since Russia’s invasion began, some scholars have described it as a “colonial war” or one of recolonization. President Emmanuel Macron, who himself has had to confront the legacy of French colonialism, has accused Russia of being “one of the last colonial imperial powers.”

Ukrainian authorities have also launched efforts to break free of Russian influences, such as toppling Soviet-era statues and banning Russian place names. But they have stopped short of calling it a process of “decolonization,” to Ms. Naiem’s frustration.

“We’re doing the cake without the recipe,” she said. “We need the recipe.”

Still, she is pleased that a discussion about Russian colonialism has taken root.

On a recent afternoon in central Kyiv, Ms. Naiem stepped into a large bookstore and stared at a long table covered with recently published books.

“Let’s see how many are about colonialism,” she said.

“This one, this one,” she said, as she grabbed book after book — one on Russia’s dominance of Ukrainian cultural life, another about rebellious Ukrainian writers of the 1960s — and piled them up on a corner of the table.

After a few minutes, the pile had grown to 21 books.

From the I.R.A. to the Principal’s Office, a Life’s Evolution Echoes Belfast’s

Jim McCann, the vice principal of St. Joseph’s Primary School, made his way through the hallways, pointing like a proud father to the colorful paper butterflies crafted by his students that hung from the ceiling.

He cheerfully greeted each child by name as he passed them. Then he stuck his head into a classroom, where the students addressed him in unison, “Good afternoon, Mr. McCann!”

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Meet the One Man Everyone Trusts on U.K. Election Nights

When Britain votes in a general election on July 4, one person will likely know the outcome before anyone else.

John Curtice, a professor of political science at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will spend Election Day with his team, honing the findings of a national exit poll. At 10 p.m., before any results have been counted, he will make a big, bold prediction that will be announced on national television: the winner.

“The lovely thing about the period between 10 o’clock and 11.30 p.m. is that nobody knows!” said Professor Curtice with a grin, raising his hands into the air. “It’s that moment when we don’t really have a government.”

While he is right that no one will know the final tally until results roll in from Britain’s 650 constituencies, in the past six general elections his team’s exit poll has proved strikingly accurate, correctly predicting the largest party every time. In five of the six, the margin of error for that forecast was five parliamentary seats or fewer.

That record is part of what has made this 70-year-old professor, with his formidable intellect, unruly tufts of white hair and infectious enthusiasm, an unlikely media star. But his beloved status in Britain goes deeper. He’s frank and scrupulously nonpartisan, making him a rarity in an age of polarization — a trusted source of information across the political spectrum.

“I try to speak in human. I am trying to speak in ways that the general public will understand,” he told The New York Times over a frugal tuna sandwich lunch in the atrium beneath the BBC’s Westminster studios.

“Sometimes I kick one party and other times I kick the other,” he said. “And usually I kick both of them.”

In February, as broadcasters awaited the results of special elections in two parliamentary districts, Professor Curtice was in front of the TV lights at 10 p.m. as a BBC News producer adjusted his earpiece.

His analysis was characteristically fluent, as were the 20 or so other interviews he completed through a night of TV appearances that stretched into breakfast time the following day.

Fueled by coffee and a bowl of porridge consumed around 6 a.m. in the BBC cafeteria, he then strode off to the broadcaster’s radio studios, continuing a media blitz that ended at 4 p.m. It was an exhausting, exhilarating stint of 18 hours.

“You don’t have time to think about going to sleep — it’s adrenaline, it’s intellectual excitement, it’s an intellectual challenge,” he said.

He comes prepared, however, his laptop brimming with data from previous elections, records that may or may not be broken, and his thinking for how he can summarize the most likely scenarios.

Professor Curtice’s first political memory is of the election of Harold Wilson as leader of the opposition Labour Party in 1963. He was 9 years old. A year later, he was allowed to stay up late on general election night, when Mr. Wilson won a small majority, bringing Labour to power for the first time in 13 years.

“Don’t ask me why, I just found it interesting,” he said.

He was raised in Cornwall, on the rugged coastline of southwest England. His father worked in construction, his mother a part-time market researcher and the family was prosperous enough to own a detached house with a large garden (but no central heating).

At Oxford University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics, Professor Curtice was a contemporary of Tony Blair, who went on to become prime minister, but their paths did not cross. While Mr. Blair played in a rock band called Ugly Rumours, a young Professor Curtice was a choral scholar who spent two hours a day at evensong.

As a postgraduate, he was urged to become “statistically literate” by his mentor, David Butler, a towering figure in British political science who ran the nation’s first exit poll in 1970.

His first TV election night appearance was in 1979, the night Margaret Thatcher came to power. Armed with a calculator he had programmed himself, he provided Professor Butler with statistical backup in case the BBC’s mainframe computer went down.

It was exit polls, however, that really made Prof. Curtice’s name. His first involvement was in 1992, which he later told The Guardian was “not a happy experience” because the poll predicted a hung Parliament instead of the modest majority of 21 that John Major won for the Conservatives.

Since 2001, a new model he created with David Firth, another academic, has improved the accuracy of the forecasts, sometimes to the discomfort of politicians. In 2015, Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, promised to eat his hat if the exit poll prediction that his party would retain only 10 of its nearly 60 seats proved correct. In fact it won fewer. On a TV show the following night, Mr. Ashdown was handed a hat-shaped chocolate cake.

These days, the exit poll is jointly commissioned by three national broadcasters — the BBC, ITV and Sky News. On July 4, tens of thousands of voters around the country will be handed a mock ballot paper on their way out of polling stations and asked to mark in private how they voted.

In 2017, the poll correctly predicted that, instead of increasing her majority in Parliament, as she and many analysts expected, Theresa May had lost it. In 2019, the projected size of Boris Johnson’s majority was off by just three seats.

Professor Curtice is not complacent, however, and notes that upsets are always possible — as in 2015, when the exit poll projected a hung Parliament, but David Cameron scraped a thin majority. “People think there is some magic, but we are only as good as the data,” Professor Curtice said.

Exit polls are trickiest when elections are close. This time, the Conservative Party, which has held power for 14 years, has lagged the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls by about 20 points for 18 months. While such leads usually narrow in the final weeks of a campaign, the Conservatives would need to make modern electoral history to win.

Professor Curtice puts their chances of forming the next government at less than 5 percent — “the point at which statisticians go: it’s very, very highly improbable.” He adds that this is partly because, even if the Conservatives beat expectations and the outcome is a hung Parliament, they lack allies who would keep them in power as a minority government.

Honored with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, Professor Curtice is now famous enough that strangers greet him in the street. His name trends on social media on election nights, and there’s a tribute account on X dedicated to tracking his media appearances called, “Is Sir John Curtice On TV?” (Right now, the answer is often “Yes.”)

Could this be his last general election TV appearance? That, he said, is something he will consider after the vote. “If the next election is in five years, I will be 75, and who knows?”

He has other interests: a passion for classical music, church, family and tending a community garden in Glasgow.

But for now, the country needs him. “There are a lot of experts who know a lot but can’t translate that in a way that is clear to the audience,” said BBC News anchor Nicky Schiller after interviewing Professor Curtice on the night of the February special elections. And, he added, “He’s a joy to work with.”

The Architect Who Made Singapore’s Public Housing the Envy of the World

The high-rise apartments — some with panoramic views of Singapore’s tropical cityscape — are airy, light-filled and spacious enough to comfortably raise a family. They are also public housing units, and for decades, were emphatically affordable, giving Singapore an enviable rate of homeownership.

Now, however, at least a few of the apartments are being sold at a price that would have been unthinkable not long ago: more than $1 million.

“I’m sad to see that — because public housing must equal affordability,” said Liu Thai Ker, the urban planner who gets much of the credit for creating the country’s widely lauded approach to housing its citizens.

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First, He Conquered Paris. Now, a Japanese Chef Wants to Become a Brand.

In cooking, timing is everything. So much so that if the chef Kei Kobayashi spots diners heading to the restroom as he sends a dish out from the kitchen, he stops them. Nature’s call can wait; his culinary offerings should be tasted at peak flavor.

Such imperiousness and exactitude align with what Mr. Kobayashi, the first Japanese chef to earn three Michelin stars for a restaurant in Paris, said he had learned from one of his earliest mentors in France: The chef is king.

“Unless you commit to your worldview to this extent, you won’t be able to be a chef,” Mr. Kobayashi, 46, said during a recent interview in Tokyo.

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The Capital of Women’s Soccer

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A little more than an hour before the game begins, the gates outside the Johan Cruyff Stadium swing open and a thousand or so fans rush inside. Some scurry to the turnstiles. Others wait patiently at the merchandise stalls, anxious to buy a jersey, a scarf, a commemorative trinket.

The busiest and longest line, though, forms outside a booth offering fans the chance to have a photo taken with their heroes. Within a couple of minutes, it snakes all the way back to the entrance, populated by doting parents and spellbound preteens hoping they arrived in time.

They have come to see the most dominant women’s soccer team on the planet. Barcelona Femení has been Spanish champion every year since 2019. It has not lost a league game since last May, a run during which eight of its players also lifted the Women’s World Cup. On Saturday, the team can win its third Women’s Champions League title, which crowns the best professional team in Europe, in four seasons.

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The Premier League’s Asterisk Season

With five minutes left in his team’s penultimate game of the Premier League season, Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola found the tension just a little too much. As a rival striker bore down on his team’s goal, Guardiola — crouching on his haunches on the sideline — lost his balance and toppled over onto his back.

Lying on the grass and expecting the worst, he missed what may yet prove to be the pivotal moment in the Premier League’s most enthralling title race in a decade.

But the striker did not score. His effort was parried by goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, sending Manchester City above its title rival Arsenal in the standings and positioning it, if it can win again on Sunday, to become the first English team to win four consecutive championships.

“Ortega saved us,” Guardiola said afterward. “Otherwise, Arsenal is champion.”

That the destiny of the championship should have been determined only so late in the season seems fitting for what has, on the surface, been a vintage Premier League campaign.

All of that drama, though, comes with a figurative asterisk. This season’s Premier League has been defined as much by turbulence off the field — points deductions, internecine bickering, legal disputes, fraud accusations and the looming threat of government intervention — as it has been by City’s (eventual) smooth sailing through it.

For the first time, the Premier League this season was forced to strip points in the standings from two of its member clubs for breaches of financial regulations. One of them, Everton, was punished twice, prompting outrage from its fans. Appeals then kicked off a long, opaque legal process that left not just those teams but also their rivals mired in months of uncertainty.

Behind the scenes, the uneasy peace between the 20 clubs that act as the league’s owners and operators has essentially shattered, shaking the foundations that allowed the competition to grow so popular that it is now, arguably, Britain’s most powerful cultural export.

There have been fierce disagreements about financial rules, about how much of the Premier League’s wealth should be shared with the rest of English soccer, about the legitimacy of some teams’ commercial revenue.

That has led to growing intramural lawfare: Manchester City has threatened legal action over sponsorships by companies affiliated with the club’s Emirati owners, and Burnley has sought legal advice as it contemplates a claim for tens of millions of dollars in compensation for its costly relegation during the period when Everton was in breach of financial regulations.

More troubling still, to fans and clubs alike, is that it has been 15 months since Manchester City was accused of 115 violations of the league’s financial rules over a series of title-winning seasons.

Manchester City has always declined to discuss the Premier League’s charges, which it has labeled an “organized” attempt to smear its reputation, and has repeatedly said it has a “comprehensive body of irrefutable proof” of its innocence.

The Premier League declined to respond this week, pointing to its longstanding policy of not commenting on ongoing cases involving its members, but those fights have become an expensive endeavor: Its legal costs, for multiple cases, now run into the double-digit millions.

Casting a shadow above it all, at least as far as the Premier League is concerned, is an effort by the British government to introduce a soccer regulator to ensure that clubs are run sustainably by reliable, reputable owners.

When the idea was first proposed three years ago, in the aftermath of an attempt by some leading clubs to form a breakaway European Super League, the Premier League offered a cautious welcome. It engaged with lawmakers as they sought ideas on what form a regulator might take.

That stance has changed substantially. The league has lobbied consistently to try to limit the role of the regulator, advertising frequently in a suite of political newsletters. Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, recently suggested that any government regulation threatened to “undermine the Premier League’s global success” by deterring potential investors in the game.

In an open letter to The Times of London, he suggested that regulation might wound “the goose that provides English football’s golden egg.”

“The big fear is that investment will dry up,” said Christina Philippou, a lecturer in sports finance at the University of Portsmouth who has advised lawmakers drafting the regulator’s role. “A regulator does make a certain type of investment less likely. But making it more sustainable, limiting losses, makes another — maybe better — type of investment more likely.”

Whether the Premier League is sufficiently unified to meet all of the challenges it faces, though, is up for debate. The league is run as a collective: Each club has a single vote, regardless of its size or longevity, and for any motion to pass, it must attract the support of 14 of the 20 clubs.

For years, that led to what Dr. Philippou characterized as a “clear split” between the so-called Big Six — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchesters City and United, and Tottenham, whose interests ordinarily aligned — and everyone else. The picture now is far more complex. “There are lots of cliques and a lot of tension,” she said.

Though the league has been able to reach unanimity on certain issues — the need for a new set of financial regulations and improvements to video refereeing — the atmosphere at its meetings is now more charged, according to several executives who attend the gatherings but declined to be named while discussing private conversations.

What were once relatively cordial rivalries have calcified into something more vitriolic, those executives said. The authority of the league itself, formerly absolute, is now frequently challenged. And some teams, they said, now routinely reserve one of the two seats each is assigned at the meetings for an in-house lawyer.

Most attribute that to the seismic, divisive issues the league has had to face in recent years, ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to a number of breakaway proposals and the spate of financial cases.

Others, though, believe that the shifting makeup of the league’s ownership group has played a role: Sovereign wealth funds and private equity groups are more willing to tolerate losses and less concerned with the overall health of the game than their predecessors.

“It will only get worse,” said Trevor East, a former television executive who was an architect of the original vision for the Premier League. “The integrity of the league is all-important, but they are going to be challenged at every opportunity in the future.”

The competitive spirit of the league has become a problem, too. Part of the controversy over the points deductions for Everton and another club, Nottingham Forest, was that the league did not have set penalties for financial offenses: Everton was initially stripped of 10 points, later reduced to six, but Forest only four.

That, though, was deliberate: In 2020, Premier League clubs voted not to enshrine specific tariffs in the league’s regulations, partly in the hope that uncertainty might act as a deterrent and partly out of a belief that certain teams would come to regard them merely as the cost of doing business.

That sort of short-term analysis, Dr. Philippou said, is typical of the thinking that has brought the Premier League to a point where the government can reasonably propose regulation. “It has always had a habit of concentrating on certain, immediate things,” she said of the league, “rather than looking at the actual problems and seeing what it needs to do to have competitive balance.”

That the league has shown itself willing to use its powers to punish its members can, to some executives, be seen as proof that the regulations have teeth: an administrative version of Voltaire’s observation that in England “it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others.”

Speaking to lawmakers this week, Mr. Masters acknowledged that this “has been a difficult period for the league” and that seeing their teams punished has been difficult for fans. “But if we have financial rules, we have to enforce them,” he said.

Few in soccer worry that the Premier League’s troubles will dim its appeal. Even the specter that Manchester City’s achievements may be tarnished might, in time, become just another compelling story line in a global soap opera.

The turbulence, though, seems likely to continue. Last month, Leicester City was promoted back to the Premier League after a season away. The club has already been charged with breaching financial rules during its last stay. It, too, is in line for a points deduction.

Andrew Das contributed reporting from London.

Soccer’s Governing Body Delays Vote on Palestinian Call to Bar Israel

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, on Friday postponed a decision to temporarily suspend Israel over its actions during the conflict in Gaza, and in the West Bank, saying it needed to solicit legal advice before taking up a motion submitted by the Palestinian Football Association.

The motion calling for Israel’s suspension referred to “international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza,” and cited violations of FIFA’s human rights and discrimination statutes.

Responding to emotionally charged addresses at FIFA’s annual congress by the head of the Palestinian soccer body, Jibril Rajoub, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, said the urgency of the situation meant he would convene an extraordinary meeting of FIFA’s top board on July 25.

Before that meeting, he said, FIFA will ask experts to analyze whether Israel’s actions breach the governing body’s regulations. By contrast, in 2022, FIFA acted quickly to bar Russian teams and clubs from competitions after the country’s forces launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Mr. Rajoub has for years pursued sanctions against Israel and its teams over a variety of issues, including freedom of movement for Palestinian players and for allowing teams based in territory overseen by the Palestinian soccer federation to play in Israel’s domestic leagues. Since Israeli forces invaded Gaza last October in retaliation for the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, all soccer infrastructure in the territory, including a historic stadium, has been destroyed, Mr. Rajoub said.

Israel’s soccer chief, Moshe Zuares, called the Palestinian motion “cynical.” But the possibility of even a temporary ban on its teams could have immediate consequences: Israel is set to compete in the men’s tournament at the Paris Olympics around the time of the FIFA meeting in July, and to begin qualifying for the 2026 men’s World Cup later this year.

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials had used the run-up to Friday’s congress to lobby officials from other national federations. A day earlier, at a meeting of Asian soccer’s governing body, members were shown a video showing the effects of the war in Gaza and then unanimously approved a decision to back the Palestinian federation’s motion.

Palestinian officials addressed FIFA’s 211 members twice during Friday’s meeting, and were followed by an official from Jordan who demanded action from FIFA.

While acknowledging the urgency of the matter, Mr. Infantino declined to call a vote. Instead, he said, the organization’s 37-member governing council would decide what to do in two months.

“FIFA will mandate as of now an independent legal expertise to assess the three requests made by the Palestinian Football Association and make sure that the status and regulations of FIFA are applied in the correct way,” he said.

Scandal Brought Reforms to Soccer. Its Leaders Are Rolling Them Back.

The 12-page report was intended to save soccer’s governing body, FIFA, in its moment of existential crisis.

Filled with reform proposals and drawn up by more than a dozen soccer insiders in December 2015, the report was FIFA’s best chance to show business partners, U.S. investigators and billions of fans that it could be trusted again after one of the biggest corruption scandals in sports history.

In bullet points and numbered sections, the report championed high-minded ideas like accountability and humility. It also proposed concrete and, for FIFA, revolutionary changes: transparency in how major decisions were reached; term limits for top leaders and new limits on presidential power; and the abolition of well-funded committees widely viewed as a system of institutional graft.

And there on the report’s final page, deep down a list of its authors, was the name of the man positioning himself as FIFA’s savior: Gianni Infantino.

Mr. Infantino, an administrator at European soccer’s governing body, had been enlisted to help sketch out the overhauls. By the time they were announced, he was a candidate for FIFA president. Presenting himself as a clean break from the past, he swept into office a few months later and quickly began enacting many of the changes. The sport’s six regional confederations promised to clean up their acts, too.

Less than a decade later, soccer’s appetite for reform appears to have waned. An outside audit of African soccer’s governing body, commissioned after FIFA took control of the organization, suggested tens of millions of dollars in misappropriated funds. The governing bodies for Europe and for North and Central America have backed away from reforms or ignored promised ones altogether, according to a comparison of public pledges and concrete actions. The Asian soccer confederation will vote this week on scrapping term limits for its senior leadership.

And on Friday in Bangkok, Mr. Infantino and FIFA will ask its members to approve a slate of changes to its statutes that would roll back yet more of the changes he once embraced, and restore structures that he had sought to sweep away.

Critics argue that would move soccer away from sound principles of good governance it adopted amid scandal. “FIFA,” the organization said in response, “does not agree with this sentiment at all.”

FIFA the institution, as well as Mr. Infantino personally, frequently invokes a powerful endorsement of its overhauls whenever questions about corporate probity are raised. While Mr. Infantino rarely grants interviews, FIFA said in response to questions about the undoing of reforms that the changes made since the scandals of 2015 have transformed it “from a toxic institution to a respected, trusted and modern governing body.”

That pivot to model governance, it said, has been “acknowledged by several external organizations, including the United States Department of Justice.”

But American officials said last week that they had never reviewed FIFA’s rules or governance standards, and the prosecutor’s office that brought many of the corruption cases declined to stand behind the federation’s changes.

“Our office has not endorsed the effectiveness of any of FIFA’s current reform efforts,” said John Marzulli, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

FIFA, along with two of its regional confederations, has been granted victim status by the Justice Department, reflecting a conclusion that it had been harmed by its own leaders. That designation could allow it to claw back tens of millions of dollars seized from defendants in the case.

But in a signal of the Justice Department’s reticence to endorse FIFA’s claims of being a changed institution, U.S. officials declined to pay $201 million in restitution funds it has awarded to FIFA or its related federations directly. Instead, they took the unusual step of requiring the creation of a U.S.-based bank account for a special fund that received the proceeds.

At the same time, FIFA has moved to alter statutes revised after the scandal. In the 2015 study, for example, Mr. Infantino and fellow report authors called for a dismantling of a bloated committee system that had for years been one of FIFA’s worst excesses: a program of patronage assignments in which soccer officials from around the world could enjoy luxury air travel, five-star accommodations and hefty annual salaries, all at FIFA’s expense, in return for their loyalty, and their votes.

FIFA had 26 such standing committees at the time. The 2015 report recommended a reduction to nine “to improve efficiency.” Currently, there are only seven.

But as part of the proposed rules changes being considered this week in Bangkok, Mr. Infantino will ask members to approve a fivefold increase, to 35 panels, and also for the power to create new ones — and appoint members — when he sees fit.

FIFA said it needed the extra committees because it had significantly expanded its functions and suggested that the roles would create more positions for women. Some meetings, it said, would be held by teleconference. It did not say how appointees to the committees would be chosen, but there is already interest in the roles.

One sports official, who works for another major sporting body but who has served on FIFA committees in the past, smiled when told about their being restored. He asked not to be named because he still has a relationship with the organization. But he said he hoped to be offered a position since the perks traditionally have included access to prized World Cup tickets.

Region by region, promises of change have already been watered down. The Asian soccer confederation’s vote this week to abolish term limits will allow its president and board members to stay on indefinitely. (The A.F.C. said four of its member associations had requested the change.) An effort by the European soccer’s president to stay beyond his 12-year term limit was approved but rendered meaningless when he said he would not run. (He said he had not planned to extend his term but wanted to test members’ loyalty.) And the North American soccer body, Concacaf, which was nearly brought down by the 2015 corruption scandal, has failed to follow through on promised changes like hiring independent board members. (It did not reply to a request for comment on Tuesday.)

At the same time, the cultures of well-paid sinecures and all-powerful presidents have in some ways been enhanced. Members of FIFA’s top board, known as the Council, earn $250,000 to $350,000 annually for a job that can require attendance at as few as three meetings a year. Mr. Infantino has seen his salary more than double since he took office, to nearly $5 million, and he recently oversaw a term-limits modification — specific to him — that could allow him to stay in his position for 15 years instead of the 12 allotted in FIFA’s statutes.

Miguel Maduro, the first FIFA governance head appointed by Mr. Infantino after his election, blamed the culture of the organization for the slide back to old ways. “It’s not enough to take down a few bad apples,” he said, “if the trees that produced them remain in place.”

Mr. Maduro, who left the governance post in 2017, called the weakening of guard rails “a formalization of the reversal away from the reforms.” He labeled the latest changes “confirmation” of a process informally underway for years.

As Mr. Infantino has cemented his position, he has simultaneously rolled back changes intended to reduce the influence of his office. Under the proposed reforms, the president was to become an “ambassador” for the sport, and greater authority was to be transferred to FIFA’s top administrator, the secretary general — a post that was remade to more resemble that of a chief executive.

Yet for most of Mr. Infantino’s tenure, his handpicked choice for secretary general, Fatma Samoura, was rarely involved in major matters. Instead, the most important decisions were increasingly consolidated into fewer and fewer hands, and controlled by a group known as the bureau.

In meetings held behind closed doors, the bureau’s members — soccer’s six regional presidents and Mr. Infantino — have bartered among themselves for top events. In October, they presented the FIFA Council with a plan that reduced the bidders for the men’s World Cup in 2030 to just one choice, a three-continent offer that will take place in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as in Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

That choice, in limiting the field of bidders for the next World Cup to only those from Asia and Oceania, effectively awarded the 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia before bidding had begun. Within 24 hours, it had lined up the backing of both Asia’s soccer confederation and Mr. Infantino.

FIFA’s membership still must vote to confirm the hosts for the 2030 and 2034 events. But with just one candidate bidding for each tournament, and Mr. Infantino’s preferred outcome clear, those votes appear to be a fait accompli.

And with Ms. Samoura having recently departed FIFA, the diminishing of her old job is likely to be formalized in Bangkok, too. According to the new draft statutes, any reference to the secretary general’s serving as FIFA’s chief executive will be deleted. Instead, the post, which previously reported to the council, will now also report directly to the president.

Ahead of Olympics, World Anti-Doping Agency Faces a Trust Crisis

Two months before the Olympics are scheduled to begin in Paris, the global agency tasked with policing doping in sports is facing a growing crisis as it fends off allegations it helped cover up the positive tests of elite Chinese swimmers who went on to compete — and win medals — at the last Summer Games.

The allegations are particularly vexing for the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has long billed itself as the gold standard in the worldwide movement for clean sports, because they raise the specter that the agency — and by extension the entire system set up to try to keep the Olympics clean — cannot be trusted.

Athletes are openly questioning whether WADA can be relied upon to do its core job of ensuring there will be a level playing field in Paris, where some of the same Chinese swimmers are favorites to win more medals.

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En Perú, un periodista ayudó a derrocar presidentes. Ahora es investigado

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Uno de los más célebres periodistas latinoamericanos, cuyo trabajo ha derrocado presidentes y desencadenado investigaciones penales, estaba recuperándose de un agresivo periodo de quimioterapias cuando recibió otras malas noticias: un fiscal peruano lo estaba investigando por cohecho o soborno.

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El periodista, Gustavo Gorriti, de 76 años, director y fundador de una organización de periodismo de investigación en Perú, no es ajeno a los problemas.

En los noventa, fue secuestrado por miembros de un escuadrón secreto de la muerte sobre el cual los investigadores peruanos determinaron que estaba dirigido por el expresidente Alberto Fujimori. Gorriti había pasado años reportando sobre corrupción y violaciones a los derechos humanos por parte del gobierno de Fujimori.

Más recientemente, ayudó a destapar un enorme escándalo de sobornos conocido como el caso Lava Jato, que ha llevado a la detención y dimisión de funcionarios de toda Latinoamérica.

Ahora, el propio Gorriti está enfrentando un posible encarcelamiento.

Un fiscal supremo de Perú lo ha acusado de soborno, alegando que Gorriti negoció filtraciones de investigaciones fiscales a cambio de coberturas periodísticas positivas. Gorriti ha negado los cargos.

Periodistas y defensores de la libertad de expresión dicen que la acusación está motivada políticamente, para castigar a Gorriti por sus anteriores investigaciones periodísticas.

Según grupos por la libertad de prensa, el caso en su contra se encuentra entre una serie de ataques a medios de comunicación independientes en Perú, y es parte de una amplia ola de esfuerzos para censurar a periodistas en un cada vez más grande número de países de América Central y del Sur.

“Más y más políticos están estigmatizando a periodistas y a los medios en sus discursos”, según Reporteros Sin Fronteras. “Los actores políticos utilizan las campañas de desinformación, acusaciones abusivas y propaganda estatal que abiertamente fomenta la desconfianza en la prensa y alienta la polarización”.

En Perú, la persecución a los periodistas refleja un amplio retroceso democrático, según los analistas.

Una coalición conservadora en el Congreso ha buscado consolidarse en el poder pasando por alto procedimientos legislativos para copar los tribunales del país, los organismos electorales y la Fiscalía de la Nación con sus aliados.

Los legisladores conservadores también han aprobado leyes que hacen más difícil investigar, procesar y castigar casos de corrupción y han modificado la constitución para incrementar el poder del Congreso.

Y, cada vez más, están usando su poder para perseguir a periodistas.

Paola Ugaz, una periodista que ha revelado años de abuso sexual a menores y corrupción en una influyente organización religiosa peruana, ha enfrentado varias investigaciones penales, que incluyen acusaciones de lavado de dinero.

Otros periodistas han sido condenados por difamación por reportar sobre políticos, organizaciones religiosas y funcionarios deportivos.

Organizaciones internacionales para la libertad de prensa coinciden en que Perú se ha convertido en un entorno cada vez más hostil para los periodistas. En los dos últimos años, la posición del país se ha desplomado en la clasificación mundial de la libertad de prensa de Reporteros Sin Fronteras. Descendió del puesto 77 al 125, la caída más grande entre cualquier país de América Latina.

Un estudio reciente de Freedom House, una organización de derechos humanos que evalúa los niveles de libertad en los países alrededor del mundo, bajó la calificación de Perú del año pasado de “libre” a “parcialmente libre”.

La organización dijo que el país había presenciado un “debilitamiento de la independencia judicial” y que “los escándalos de corrupción de alto nivel han socavado la confianza pública en el gobierno, mientras que divisiones irreconciliables al interior de una muy fragmentada clase política han producido agitación política en repetidas ocasiones”.

Gorriti es el director y fundador de IDL-Reporteros, un portal de periodismo de investigación conocido por sus reportajes sobre corrupción que involucran personajes poderosos.

Gorriti se inició investigando el auge del grupo subversivo Sendero Luminoso en los ochenta, y reveló los vínculos del narcotráfico con los altos funcionarios de inteligencia de Fujimori, quien, según las investigaciones, luego ordenó su secuestro.

El secuestro jugó un papel importante en una de las condenas de Fujimori por distintos crímenes, en 2009, por la que recibió una sentencia de 25 años de cárcel.

Gorriti se mudó a Panamá, donde expuso los vínculos entre los funcionarios del gobierno y narcotraficantes, para un diario panameño.

Sus reportajes han implicado en algún tipo de irregularidad a los cuatro presidentes peruanos que estuvieron en el poder entre 2001 y 2020. Uno de ellos, Alan García, murió cuando se disparó en la cabeza en su casa, luego de que las autoridades llegaron para detenerlo.

Gorriti dijo que a pesar de las décadas de lo que él describe como persecución, la investigación por soborno es lo más resaltante.

“En la época en que estaba Fujimori hubo peligro físico inminente”, dijo en una entrevista. Pero ahora, dijo, los actuales funcionarios del gobierno tienen el deseo de “convertir todo el sistema judicial en una herramienta adicional para ellos. Eso ha sido mucho más intenso ahora que en el pasado”.

Artur Romeu, el director de la oficina de América Latina de Reporteros Sin Fronteras, dijo que era “impresionante que se mueva un paso como ese en contra de uno de los periodistas más reconocidos”.

Luego de años del gobierno autoritario de Fujimori en Perú, las elecciones del 2000 marcaron el inicio de una era de democracia, crecimiento económico y fortalecimiento de la libertad de expresión.

Pero en los últimos años, la economía ha tambaleado y la confianza en el gobierno ha caído en picada. Cada vez se recurre más a los tribunales para silenciar a los críticos.

Gorriti y otros periodistas también han enfrentado el acoso de los grupos de extrema derecha que se han manifestado afuera de sus oficinas y han arrojado excrementos en sus casas. Los canales de televisión de derecha frecuentemente esparcen desinformación sobre periodistas independientes, y han acusado a Gorriti de ser una mente criminal.

Como parte de la investigación, los fiscales también han solicitado que Gorriti entregue los teléfonos que ha usado en su reportería y que revele sus fuentes. Gorriti se ha rehúsado a hacerlo.

El caso contra Gorriti ha hecho más difícil que otros periodistas realicen su trabajo, dijo Jonathan Castro, un periodista político y editor de un pódcast.

“Hay fuentes que ya no brindan información porque tienen miedo”, dijo.

En el pasado, la fiscalía ha llevado a cabo procesos de difamación en contra de periodistas, pero cada vez aplican cargos penales más serios.

Ugaz, la periodista acusada de lavado de dinero, dijo en una entrevista que ha enfrentado amenazas de muerte en las redes sociales y abusos verbales en las calles de Lima, la capital, como consecuencia de las campañas de desinformación en su contra. Esta desinformación incluye falsas acusaciones de que ella, junto con la familia del ganador del Premio Nobel Mario Vargas Llosa, contrabandeaban uranio y plutonio.

“No hay ningún filtro”, dijo. “Uno pensaría que todo es tan absurdo que nadie va a creerlo”.


La izquierda gana a lo grande en México. Los inversores están preocupados

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El conteo final de votos publicado el fin de semana sugiere que el partido político de izquierda que gobierna México y sus aliados obtendrían amplias mayorías en el Congreso, lo que podría permitir a la coalición aprobar cambios radicales en la Constitución.

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El conteo final de votos publicado el fin de semana sugiere que el partido político de izquierda que gobierna México y sus aliados obtendrían amplias mayorías en el Congreso, lo que podría permitir a la coalición aprobar cambios radicales en la Constitución.

El recuento oficial de las elecciones de la semana pasada mostró que el partido, Morena, y sus socios parecían en camino de conseguir una mayoría de dos tercios en la Cámara baja del Congreso.

En el Senado, parecía que la coalición no alcanzaría la supermayoría, pero por un pequeño número de escaños, según los analistas, lo que significa que probablemente solo necesitaría el apoyo de unos pocos legisladores de la oposición para modificar la Constitución. Construir esas alianzas “es relativamente fácil” de conseguir, dijo el presidente del partido, Mario Delgado, en una entrevista.

“Somos ahora una fuerza dominante”, añadió Delgado, “por decisión de la gente”.

La composición final de la legislatura aún no está clara porque una parte de los escaños del Congreso mexicano se designan mediante un sistema de representación proporcional en agosto. Las impugnaciones legales también podrían afectar al reparto de escaños.

Pero Morena se ha acercado lo suficiente al dominio total como para provocar una fuerte reacción de un sector que el partido no puede ignorar: los mercados financieros.

En los volátiles días que siguieron a la elección, la alarma de los inversores ha estado a flor de piel, con las acciones mexicanas golpeadas y el peso sufriendo su peor semana desde la pandemia.

La preocupación se centra en la posibilidad de que Morena utilice su amplio mandato para promulgar cambios constitucionales que, según los detractores, podrían eliminar los controles existentes sobre la autoridad presidencial, según los analistas financieros.

Las propuestas fueron presentadas por primera vez por Andrés Manuel López Obrador e incluyen planes para eliminar los reguladores independientes y nombrar a los jueces y funcionarios electorales a través del voto popular, lo que los críticos advierten que podría hacerlos más susceptibles a la presión política. Entre otras preocupaciones, los inversores temen que la alteración del poder judicial podría hacer que sea menos seguro que obtengan una audiencia justa en las disputas.

Los mercados sienten que “bajo la gestión del partido de Morena y, sobre todo, ante el antecedente de este plan pudiera generarse un cambio radical”, dijo Janneth Quiroz Zamora, directora de investigación económica de la casa de bolsa Monex. “El mayor temor tiene que ver con que se anulen otra vez los contrapesos que existen al poder ejecutivo”.

En lo que pareció ser un intento de calmar al mercado, la presidenta entrante, Claudia Sheinbaum, discípula de López Obrador, anunció el lunes pasado que el actual secretario de Hacienda, Rogelio Ramírez de la O, quien es visto como una fuerza estabilizadora, se quedaría en el puesto.

“Es un gran servidor público que da certeza del buen manejo financiero y económico”, dijo.

Sheinbaum ganó la presidencia con la mayor cantidad de votos en décadas y Morena también se llevó la mayoría de las gubernaturas.

Sus comentarios iniciales animaron a los inversores a pensar que “el gobierno era sensible a sus preocupaciones”, dijo Blanca Heredia, analista política residente en Ciudad de México. Eso fue por “la rapidez con la que reaccionó el gobierno”, dijo Heredia, señalando que la nueva presidenta “necesita y quiere crecimiento económico”.

Pero entonces, el jueves, el líder de Morena en la Cámara baja del Congreso, Ignacio Mier, pareció anunciar que el partido buscaría aprobar los cambios constitucionales en septiembre, antes de que López Obrador deje el cargo y Sheinbaum lo asuma.

El peso volvió a caer. Horas más tarde, Mier se retractó en una comparecencia radiofónica en la que dio a entender que los cambios no se aprobarían a toda prisa.

Sheinbaum dijo más tarde a los periodistas que las medidas se someterían a un amplio diálogo. También publicó una foto en la que aparecía reunida con un ejecutivo de la empresa de inversiones BlackRock. “Están comprometidos y entusiasmados con incrementar los proyectos de inversión en México”, escribió en las redes sociales.

Delgado, el presidente del partido, dijo que López Obrador y Sheinbaum tendrían que ponerse de acuerdo sobre cómo avanzar con los planes.

“Son reformas que finalmente tendrán que ser discutidas y su alcance, su versión final, se dará por el propio Congreso. Y el ritmo de su aprobación dependerá de la presidenta”, dijo, refiriéndose a Sheinbaum.

El resultado, según los analistas, es que en un sistema político en el que un partido tiene tanto control, el mercado podría emerger como una fuerza moderadora.

“Creo que esta reacción adversa al mercado va a generar que dentro de de que en septiembre se repiense muy bien qué van a aprobar y en qué forma lo van a aprobar”, dijo Joan Domene, economista principal para América Latina en Oxford Economics, una consultora económica con sede en Ciudad de México.

López Obrador, sin embargo, no parecía inmutarse. En su conferencia de prensa habitual en la mañana del viernes, el presidente reiteró su compromiso con los cambios y parecía minimizar las caídas del peso, diciendo: “la justicia está por encima de los mercados”.

Los mensajes contradictorios mostraron, según los analistas, que la influencia de los inversionistas dependerá de si las personas que dirigen Morena —incluido López Obrador— realmente los escuchan.

“Los mercados son una camisa de fuerza para la política”, dijo Domene. “Pero no para todos por igual”.

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega y Miriam Castillo colaboraron con reportería.


Natalie Kitroeff es la jefa del buró de redacción del Times en Ciudad de México, que lidera la cobertura de México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Más de Natalie Kitroeff.

Donde ‘no’ no significa nada: escaladoras relatan historias de acoso sexual

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En su autobiografía, publicada en diciembre, la alpinista profesional y ex-Miss Finlandia Lotta Hintsa describe brevemente un incidente desagradable ocurrido con un “escalador muy famoso” al que no identificó.

En marzo de 2023, durante una conversación de negocios en la suite del hotel donde se hospedaba el escalador en Katmandú, Nepal, el hombre besó a Lotta “sin la menor advertencia”, señala el libro, cuyo título original en finés significa Las montañas de mi vida 2. “La situación fue absurda, irreal y desagradable”, escribió.

El Times  Una selección semanal de historias en español que no encontrarás en ningún otro sitio, con eñes y acentos.

Sin embargo, en entrevistas con The New York Times, Hintsa comentó que su experiencia fue aún más perturbadora de lo que describe en el libro. Su historia muestra una preocupación que las mujeres del mundo del alpinismo han comenzado a expresar más abiertamente.

Hintsa explicó que el hombre era Nirmal Purja, cuyo exitoso proyecto de 2019 para escalar los 14 picos de 8000 metros que hay en el mundo en un tiempo récord fue difundido en un popular documental de Netflix. La alpinista dice que la llevó a la habitación, le quitó la camisa, los shorts y la ropa interior especial, e intentó quitarle el sostén. Señaló que ella le dijo varias veces que no, ofreciendo excusas para que se detuviera sin agitarse. El episodio, dijo, terminó con él masturbándose junto a ella.

Hintsa, de 35 años, recuerda haber pensado en ese momento: “Tengo que salir de esta y hacer como si no hubiera pasado nada”.

A través de su abogado, Philip M. Kelly, Purja rechazó dar una entrevista. En una declaración escrita, Kelly afirmó que Purja “niega categóricamente las acusaciones de haber cometido alguna ofensa. Estas acusaciones son falsas y difamatorias”.

A medida que el montañismo de gran altitud ha ido ganando popularidad, las mujeres se han vuelto cada vez más visibles, y sobresalientes, en un deporte que sigue siendo dominado por los hombres. Las estadísticas del Everest reflejan esta tendencia: el año pasado, 65 mujeres alcanzaron la cima —alrededor del 10 por ciento de los escaladores que lo hicieron— frente a 45 en 2013 y solo 10 en 2003, según datos de Himalayan Database.

Sin embargo, en años recientes, la comunidad de escaladores ha reconocido que este deporte conlleva riesgos invisibles, especialmente para las mujeres. Cada vez más mujeres en el deporte (que incluye todo desde escalada en roca en interiores hasta ascender picos nevados) están alzando la voz para hablar sobre momentos que han descrito como inquietantes o peores.

En 2019, un grupo de escaladoras profesionales abrió una cuenta de Instagram “sobre las fotos, mensajes y solicitudes ridículas e inapropiadas que recibimos”, escribió una de ellas en una publicación. La cuenta, cuyas creadoras explican que fue cerrada por Instagram, compartía capturas de pantalla de mensajes de acoso enviados a mujeres que practican este deporte.

En febrero, un escalador de 39 años llamado Charles Barrett fue declarado culpable de tres cargos de abuso sexual por agredir repetidamente a una mujer que visitaba el Parque Nacional de Yosemite durante una excursión de fin de semana en 2016. El fiscal del Distrito Este de California afirmó en un comunicado que Barrett había “utilizado su renombre y presencia física como escalador para atraer e intimidar a las víctimas, que formaban parte de la comunidad de escaladores”.

Y en entrevistas con el Times, Hintsa y otra mujer (una antigua clienta de la empresa de guías de gran altitud de Purja) describieron experiencias ocurridas en años recientes en las que él las besó sin su consentimiento, les hizo insinuaciones agresivas o las tocó sexualmente en contra de sus deseos. Explicaron haber sentido impotencia, además de miedo de enfadar a Purja.

“No sabía qué hacer”, recuerda April Leonardo, una médica de Quincy, California. Ella cuenta que durante una expedición al K2, la segunda montaña más alta del mundo, Purja la sujetó, la besó y le hizo propuestas en repetidas oportunidades. “Estoy en una escalada loca. Él es mi guía. No quiero hacer nada que me ponga en peligro”.

La declaración del abogado de Purja también negaba categóricamente las acusaciones de Leonardo.

Poco después de los encuentros que las mujeres afirmaron que tuvieron con Purja, ellas compartieron sus historias con amigos y familiares y les enviaron mensajes de texto sobre sus experiencias. El Times examinó los mensajes de texto y confirmó las conversaciones con esas personas.

El mundo de las actividades recreativas al aire libre ha comenzado a abordar el acoso y el abuso sexual, aunque de manera vacilante. En 2018, como respuesta al movimiento #MeToo, miembros de la comunidad de escaladores de Estados Unidos crearon una iniciativa llamada #SafeOutside (a salvo al aire libre) para estudiar el alcance del problema en este deporte. Los organizadores encuestaron a más de 5000 escaladores de más de 60 países y descubrieron que el 47 por ciento de las mujeres y el 16 por ciento de los hombres afirmaron haber sido objeto de comportamientos sexuales no deseados mientras escalaban. Y hace unos meses, The Mountaineers, un grupo de recreación al aire libre del noroeste del Pacífico, creó un comité asesor de prevención del acoso y las agresiones sexuales para abordar el riesgo entre sus 15.000 miembros.

Pero, para las mujeres, sentirse agraviadas en este deporte no es nada nuevo.

“Es la posición más vulnerable en la que puedo imaginarme”, dijo Alison Levine, capitana de la primera expedición femenina estadounidense al Everest en 2002. Ella afirma haber sufrido abusos verbales y comportamientos amenazantes por parte de un guía durante ese viaje. Las alpinistas dieron media vuelta antes de llegar a la cumbre porque las condiciones meteorológicas empeoraron.

“Lo más desafiante, lo más aterrador y la mayor causa de ansiedad y miedo en esa montaña fue un ser humano, no el entorno”, continúa Levine. Ella no volvió a las grandes montañas durante otros cinco años, pero en 2010 regresó al Everest y esa vez alcanzó la cumbre.

“El propio entorno ya conlleva un enorme riesgo inherente”, dice. “Y es más aterrador cuando añades el riesgo generado por las relaciones interpersonales”.

El mes pasado, cientos de alpinistas ascendieron al Everest y otros picos del Himalaya. Por encima de los 8000 metros, los escaladores ingresan en lo que se conoce como “la zona de la muerte”, donde no hay oxígeno suficiente para sustentar la vida humana durante mucho tiempo y se exponen a peligros como la congelación, las cascadas de hielo, las grietas y los edemas pulmonares o cerebrales por la altitud. Dieciocho alpinistas murieron en el Everest durante la temporada de primavera de 2023; este año ya han fallecido cinco y se ha reportado la desaparición de tres.

Los clientes pagan decenas de miles de dólares para intentar realizar estos ascensos —las expediciones al Everest comienzan en unos 40.000 dólares, con experiencias más lujosas que pueden alcanzar montos de hasta seis cifras— y confían sus vidas a los guías.

Con más de dos millones de seguidores en Instagram, Purja, de 40 años, es una de las figuras más reconocidas e influyentes del alpinismo. Conocido como Nims, es ciudadano naturalizado del Reino Unido, donde vive con su esposa y su hija pequeña. En Nepal, donde nació, es venerado como el tipo de superestrella del alpinismo que el país no había visto desde que Tenzing Norgay completó la primera ascensión al Everest en 1953 junto a Sir Edmund Hillary.

Con su empresa de guías, Elite Exped, Purja ha contribuido a abrir paso a una nueva era de escalada comercial en los picos más altos del mundo. A través de las redes sociales ha animado a las mujeres a participar.

Purja ha guiado a clientas de alto perfil como Asma Al Thani, de la familia real catarí, y la modelo rusa Victoria Bonya. “Gracias por inspirarme a superar mis límites. Estoy agradecida por todo lo que me has enseñado”, publicó en el otoño pasado una escaladora suiza llamada Christine Vogondy en Instagram, junto con una foto de ella y Purja en la cima del Gasherbrum I en Pakistán.

Hintsa, quien se convirtió en escaladora profesional en 2018, se cruzó con Purja en los campamentos base de Nepal y Pakistán mientras hacía el circuito de escalada. Comenzaron a escribirse de manera intermitente, hablando sobre las expediciones que realizaban, y Purja la invitó a formar parte de su empresa como guía.

La revisión que el Times hizo reveló que Purja a menudo coqueteaba en esos mensajes de texto, y en sus conversaciones con Leonardo. Las mujeres a veces respondían con bromas, y Hintsa, quien es exmodelo de trajes de baño de Sports Illustrated, una vez le envió una foto suya de la revista. Sin embargo, a menudo cambiaban de tema o no respondían.

Hintsa y Purja acordaron reunirse en Katmandú en marzo de 2023 para hablar de la posibilidad de trabajar juntos en una expedición que Hintsa estaba organizando. La alpinista recuerda que Purja sugirió tomar un café en la suite del hotel donde se estaba alojando para evitar la atención que recibiría en el vestíbulo.

Hintsa explica que, dado el tono de algunos de los mensajes de texto que habían intercambiado anteriormente, ella trató de establecer límites claros. Dijo que le envió un mensaje de WhatsApp para aclararle que no se trataba de “un acostón” y que él estuvo de acuerdo. Hintsa ya no tiene estos mensajes, porque la aplicación de Purja estaba configurada para que desaparecieran después de siete días.

El 30 de marzo, en la suite que Purja tenía en el Marriott, Hintsa recordó haberse sentido “congelada” y “confundida” cuando él la llevó a la cama. Dijo que sintió como si estuviera teniendo una experiencia extracorpórea mientras él le quitaba la ropa aunque ella seguía negándose. Le dijo que tenía la regla, pero él no se detuvo. En cierto momento, le tocó la vagina.

“No puedo hacer que entienda. Está en un estado de extrema excitación en el que un ‘no’ no significa nada”, relata Hintsa. Comentó que tenía miedo de agitarlo debido a su fuerza y al entrenamiento que había recibido en el ejército británico, incluidas sus fuerzas especiales.

Dijo que Purja parecía frustrado porque ella no dejaba de negarse, y que pareció perder el interés cuando ella se resistió físicamente a que le quitara el sostén. Describió que se sintió aliviada cuando él empezó a masturbarse, con la esperanza de que el episodio terminara pronto.

A continuación, Purja se duchó, lo que le dio tiempo para tranquilizarse y vestirse. Salieron de la habitación y él le enseñó la tienda que tiene en el Marriott. Después pidió a un chófer que la llevara a su hotel. Él se comportaba como si no hubiera pasado nada.

Ese mismo día, Hintsa le envió un mensaje de texto a una amiga en el que le contaba su experiencia. El Times tuvo acceso a este mensaje. Más tarde, se lo contó en persona a su amiga Heidi Paananen, quien confirmó la conversación.

Krishna Bahadur Tamang, un chófer de Purja, afirmó en una declaración escrita facilitada por el abogado de Purja que esa mañana lo llevó al Marriott. Dijo que Purja volvió al vehículo “en menos de 20 minutos”. Hintsa recuerda haber estado en el hotel con Purja cerca de una hora, y aportó fotos con la hora marcada que tomó ese día mientras iba camino a encontrarse con él y en su tienda. Estas corroboraron la versión de ella.

Hintsa no hizo negocios con la empresa de Purja.

Los deportes al aire libre tienen factores de riesgo únicos para la conducta inapropiada y el acoso sexual, dijo Gina McClard, una abogada de Oregón especializada en la prevención de la violencia de género. En 2019, ella cofundó una consultoría llamada Respect Outside que trabaja con grupos de recreación al aire libre, como clubes de montañismo y servicios de guías, abordando temas como políticas, procedimientos y capacitaciones para prevenir el acoso sexual y la discriminación.

Estas actividades pueden involucrar expediciones de semanas a lugares remotos, donde los participantes viven y duermen en espacios reducidos. La cultura que rodea a los deportes al aire libre, que celebra la superación de los límites y glorifica a quien logra hazañas poco comunes, también puede crear situaciones en las que el comportamiento inapropiado no enfrente ninguna consecuencia, explicó.

“Gran parte del sector de las actividades al aire libre sigue girando en torno a un círculo de hombres influyentes”, dice McClard en un correo electrónico. “Si no te ajustas a cómo se hacen las cosas te pueden excluir, te dejan afuera del club”.

Barrett, el escalador que este año fue condenado por abuso sexual, fue sentenciado a cadena perpetua el 28 de mayo. Según archivos judiciales difundidos por Outside Magazine, Barrett fue procesado, en parte, debido a la encuesta #SafeOutside de 2018. La mujer a la que había agredido respondió a esta encuesta diciendo que había sido violada por un “conocido escalador profesional de California” en un viaje a Yosemite; otra dijo que había sido agredida sexualmente por un huésped de un escalador profesional al que estaba visitando. Los organizadores de la encuesta las buscaron para averiguar más y las pusieron en contacto luego de que ambas identificaran a Barrett como el agresor. La excursionista de Yosemite denunció a Barrett a las autoridades en 2020.

Barrett era un personaje conocido entre la comunidad de escalada en roca de California. Había escrito guías sobre escalada tipo búlder en áreas populares del estado como Mammoth y Bishop y ascendió por rutas difíciles con el famoso escalador estadounidense Alex Honnold. Un perfil publicado en 2016 por Climbing Magazine que luego fue retirado de su sitio web― describía a Barrett como “un maestro de la escalada en California”.

En el momento de la agresión a la escaladora, él vivía y trabajaba en Yosemite. Según la fiscalía, Barrett la “violó violentamente” tras invitarla al bosque a ver una lluvia de meteoritos, además de agredirla durante una excursión y en la zona de alojamiento de los empleados. Otras tres mujeres, incluida la otra encuestada, declararon en el juicio que él las había agredido sexualmente. Esos incidentes ocurrieron fuera de la jurisdicción federal, y los fiscales estatales no presentaron cargos.

Basándose en su trabajo con grupos del sector de las actividades al aire libre, McClard explica que las políticas de las empresas generalmente se limitan a la seguridad física de clientes y empleados, excluyendo su seguridad psicológica o emocional. La mayoría de las pequeñas empresas de actividades al aire libre carecen de departamentos internos de recursos humanos, y las grandes empresas del sector no han invertido ni el tiempo ni el dinero que, en opinión de McClard, requiere este tema.

“No existe un movimiento que abarque todo el sector”, afirma. “Creo que estamos solas en lo que respecta al acoso sexual en el sector de las actividades al aire libre”.

Leonardo, la médica californiana de 41 años, conoció a Purja en 2021 en una casa de té de Nepal, antes de hacer cumbre en el Everest con otra empresa. Más tarde se enteró de que él estaba organizando una ascensión guiada al K2 para el verano siguiente. Atraída en parte por el peligro de la ascensión, se inscribió y pagó 55.000 dólares por el viaje de dos meses, que comenzó en junio de 2022.

Tras llegar al campamento base del K2, a más de 5000 metros de altura, el equipo realizó una puja, una ceremonia para presentarle sus respetos a la montaña y pedirle una ascensión segura. Relató que durante la celebración posterior, mientras buscaba una bolsa de basura, se encontró con Purja, quien la llevó a una tienda almacén para darle una. Cuando ella se dio la vuelta para marcharse, Purja la tomó del brazo, y la besó. Recuerda que Purja le dijo: “Serás mía”. Aturdida y sin saber qué hacer, se marchó.

“Siento que tengo que evadirlo y evitar que pase algo, pero tengo miedo de hacer o decir algo al respecto”, dijo Leonardo sobre lo que pensó en ese momento. Otro escalador que estaba en la montaña en ese momento dijo que Leonardo le contó que había tenido esa interacción con Purja, y le dijo que no quería estar a solas con él. Esta persona pidió no ser mencionada por temor a repercusiones profesionales o personales.

En otra ocasión, según Leonardo, Purja se presentó en su tienda sin haber sido invitado. Ella estaba en su saco de dormir, en camisa y ropa interior, recordó, y él se puso en cuclillas junto a ella y dijo que quería mirar su rodilla, que se había lesionado. Purja metió la mano en su saco de dormir; esto la hizo sentir pánico, por lo que rápidamente sacó la pierna. Afirmó que él la besó y que después tomó su mano y se la puso en la entrepierna, obligándola a sentir su pene erecto a través de los pantalones. Dijo sentirse atrapada en su saco de dormir, sin poder salir, porque no estaba vestida.

Según Leonardo, Purja le dijo que quería acostarse con ella, pero que tenía que esperar a que no hubiera nadie. Luego se marchó.

También dijo que, en otra ocasión, Purja la sujetó del brazo mientras caminaba sola por el campamento y le preguntó: “¿Cuándo puedo montarte?”. Él sugirió ir a su tienda, pero ella se excusó.

Durante el viaje, Leonardo le envió un mensaje de texto a su padre, Leon Leonardo, diciendo que Purja no dejaba de intentar tener sexo con ella. “No está bien”, escribió en el mensaje, que fue revisado por el Times.

Dos empleados de Elite Exped presentes en la expedición al K2 de Leonardo, Chandra Bahadur Tamang, jefe de cocina, y Ramesh Gurung, guía principal, señalaron en declaraciones facilitadas por el abogado del Purja que ellos se encargaban de la seguridad de la tienda almacén porque había objetos de valor adentro, y que Purja nunca entró en ella durante la expedición. Leonardo dijo que a menudo había gente alrededor de la tienda, pero que cuando ella y Purja entraron no había nadie.

Otro guía, Pasang Tendi Sherpa, afirmó en una declaración que Purja “no estuvo en ningún entorno privado” con Leonardo durante el viaje. Esta declaración no explica cómo sabía esto, y él no respondió a las solicitudes de entrevista. Gurung no accedió a una entrevista. El Times no pudo contactar a Chandra Bahadur Tamang.

Durante varios meses después del viaje, Leonardo tuvo intercambios cordiales de mensajes de texto con Purja, en parte porque estaba esperando el reembolso de algo de equipo que se había perdido, dijo. No volvió a verlo.

Las mujeres que hablaron sobre Purja con el Times explicaron que no sabían qué recursos tenían. Elite Exped es una pequeña empresa dirigida por Purja, y ya que los incidentes ocurrieron fuera de sus países de origen, las mujeres no estaban seguras de qué hacer. No alertaron a la policía ni a otras autoridades.

Hintsa explicó que cuenta su historia con la esperanza de que el deporte del montañismo, dominado por los hombres, se vuelva más seguro para las mujeres. Solo con el tiempo ha llegado a comprender los efectos de su experiencia.

“No estaba consciente de las cicatrices que me había dejado”, dijo. “Me ha hecho darme cuenta de que no solo la caída de rocas o las avalanchas son peligrosas para una escaladora”.

La carrera de Purja ha seguido en ascenso. Como rostro del montañismo de gran altitud, ha colaborado con grandes empresas como Red Bull y Nike, que el pasado invierno sacó a la venta una colección de ropa inspirada en Purja llamada 8K Peaks, y utilizó su imagen en una descomunal valla publicitaria de Manhattan. En diciembre recibió un doctorado honoris causa de la Universidad inglesa de Loughborough. Marcas de equipo para actividades al aire libre como Grivel, Osprey y Scarpa han trabajado con él en productos de marca compartida.

Leonardo dijo que el logro de hacer cumbre en el K2, se vio empañado por la experiencia que vivió. Ella espera que compartir su historia ayude a otras mujeres a evitar situaciones similares.

“No puedo permitir que siga ocurriendo”, dijo. Y agregó: “No quiero que otra mujer tenga que pasar por esto”.

Johanna Lemola y Bhadra Sharma colaboraron con reportería. Kitty Bennett colaboró con investigación.

Jenny Vrentas es reportera del Times especializada en dinero, poder e influencia en el deporte. Más sobre Jenny Vrentas

Así se desarrolló la operación israelí para rescatar a 4 rehenes en Gaza

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La misión del ejército israelí para rescatar a cuatro rehenes fue una operación poco habitual que requirió semanas de planificación y recibió el visto bueno final solo unos minutos antes de comenzar el sábado por la mañana, según funcionarios israelíes.

Las fuerzas especiales israelíes, respaldadas por el ejército, los servicios de inteligencia y la fuerza aérea, asaltaron dos edificios separados por varios cientos de metros en un barrio de Nuseirat, en el centro de Gaza. Trajeron a los cuatro rehenes —Noa Argamani, de 26 años; Almog Meir Jan, de 22; Andrey Kozlov, de 27; y Shlomi Ziv, de 41— vivos y en buen estado de salud de vuelta a casa. Un agente de policía, que formaba parte de la fuerza que dirigió la redada, resultó muerto.

Decenas de palestinos, entre ellos mujeres y niños, murieron durante la operación de rescate, según funcionarios de salud locales de Gaza. El ejército israelí dijo que había atacado a militantes que habían amenazado a sus fuerzas cuando intentaban extraer a los rehenes. Ni el ejército israelí ni las autoridades de salud palestinas facilitaron un desglose de los civiles y combatientes muertos en la operación.

Los soldados israelíes han arrasado gran parte de Gaza desde que comenzó la invasión terrestre a finales de octubre. Sin embargo, solo han logrado rescatar a siete rehenes vivos en tres operaciones militares distintas, y quedan unos 120 cautivos en Gaza. Varias misiones de rescate propuestas no siguieron adelante por temor a que los rehenes o las fuerzas militares murieran en el proceso, según dos funcionarios de defensa israelíes, que hablaron bajo condición de anonimato sobre la delicada operación.

En diciembre, las fuerzas especiales israelíes intentaron rescatar a un rehén del cautiverio de Hamás, según los dos funcionarios de defensa. Sahar Baruch, un rehén israelí, murió durante el intercambio de disparos y dos oficiales israelíes resultaron gravemente heridos.

Según uno de los funcionarios de defensa, los servicios de inteligencia israelíes supieron en un primer momento que Argamani estaba retenida en un edificio situado en la superficie, cerca de la zona del mercado de Nuseirat. Más información recibida posteriormente indicaba que otros tres rehenes se encontraban en otro edificio de la misma sección, añadió el funcionario.

El contralmirante Daniel Hagari, portavoz militar israelí, declaró que los oficiales israelíes habían trabajado durante semanas para reunir las piezas necesarias para la misión. Los soldados israelíes se entrenaron intensamente basándose en modelos de los edificios donde se creía que estaban los rehenes, añadió.

“Se trataba de una misión en el corazón de un barrio civil, donde Hamás se había escondido intencionadamente entre viviendas con civiles y terroristas armados custodiando a los rehenes”, dijo Hagari. “Y debemos actuar de forma que esos rehenes vuelvan a casa con vida”.

En las últimas tres semanas, hubo varias ocasiones en las que parecía posible llevar a cabo la operación, pero todos los intentos se cancelaron, antes de que las fuerzas israelíes se dispusieran a lanzar la misión, dijeron los dos funcionarios de defensa israelíes.

El jueves, el primer ministro de Israel, Benjamín Netanyahu, y el ministro de Defensa israelí, Yoav Gallant, volvieron a reunirse con altos funcionarios de Defensa para discutir los riesgos de la operación y los posibles escenarios, dijo un tercer funcionario israelí, quien habló bajo condición de anonimato.

Los líderes del país dieron luz verde a la misión de rescate esa noche, dijo el funcionario. Pero aún existía la posibilidad de que fuera cancelada en el último minuto, dijo Hagari.

El sábado por la mañana, Herzi Halevi, jefe del Estado Mayor, y Ronen Bar, director del servicio de inteligencia israelí Shin Bet, dieron el visto bueno final pocos minutos antes de que comenzara la operación, alrededor de las 11 a. m., explicó Hagari.

Añadió que optaron por actuar a la luz del día, enfilando hacia los dos edificios de Nuseirat, en un intento de tomar desprevenido a Hamás, ya que el grupo armado podría esperar que una operación de este tipo tuviera lugar por la noche.

El asalto comenzó simultáneamente en ambos edificios, donde los rehenes se encontraban en habitaciones cerradas rodeadas de guardias armados, según Hagari. En uno de los edificios, donde estaba retenida Argamani, los agentes consiguieron sorprender a sus captores de Hamás, explicó. En el otro, las fuerzas israelíes se enzarzaron en un difícil tiroteo antes de alcanzar a los tres rehenes restantes, añadió.

Mientras recuperaban a los cautivos, los oficiales anunciaron por radio que “los diamantes están en nuestras manos”, utilizando una palabra clave asignada, dijo Hagari.

Salieron de los edificios mientras los militantes de Hamás les disparaban y lanzaban granadas propulsadas por cohetes, explicó Hagari. Los oficiales cubrieron a los rehenes con sus cuerpos para intentar protegerlos, y la aviación israelí atacó la zona y sus alrededores, apuntando a los militantes, añadió.

Khalil Daqran, funcionario local del Hospital de los Mártires de al-Aqsa, en Deir al Balah, dijo a la prensa que muchos palestinos murieron y resultaron heridos durante los ataques cerca del mercado de Nuseirat, que, según él, estaba abarrotado de transeúntes.

Hagari dijo que le habían informado de que el ejército tenía conocimiento de bajas palestinas como consecuencia de la operación, y que no podía confirmar cuántas eran militantes. Añadió que Hamás había intentado disparar contra las fuerzas israelíes desde detrás de civiles.

Añadió que “la forma cínica en que Hamás está utilizando a la población también para disparar contra nuestras fuerzas” fue “trágica”.

Los rehenes fueron llevados en auto a dos helicópteros que los esperaban, dijo Hagari. Uno transportó a Argamani y a los oficiales de las fuerzas especiales. El segundo transportó a los tres rehenes restantes y a un comandante de policía lesionado, quien más tarde moriría a causa de sus heridas.

Hacia la 1:30 p. m., el gobierno israelí anunció que los cuatro rehenes estaban en casa.


Ronen Bergman es reportero de The New York Times Magazine y vive en Tel Aviv. Su libro más reciente es Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations, publicado por Random House. Más de Ronen Bergman

Aaron Boxerman es periodista becario del Times especializado en noticias internacionales. Más de Aaron Boxerman

Los efectos de la guerra en Ucrania en los pueblos fronterizos, en imágenes

Durante mucho tiempo, el área fronteriza de Ucrania ha sido un lugar donde las culturas se fusionan e intercambian. Hoy, nuevamente, es una zona de combate.

Tras pérdidas incesantes, se está transformando, posiblemente para siempre, en una zona gris peligrosa y abandonada.

Lo que solía ser un estilo de vida, y de fe, compartido, está mermando.

Para los pocos que quedan, conseguir incluso los insumos cotidianos para vivir es una tarea de riesgo.

Los efectos de la guerra en Ucrania en los pueblos fronterizos, en imágenes

David Guttenfelder viajó dos veces por la frontera noreste de Ucrania en los meses previos a que las tropas rusas volvieran a cruzar.

Read in English

Los invasores no habían regresado. No todavía. Pero a lo largo de los aproximadamente 960 kilómetros del territorio fronterizo del noreste de Ucrania que The New York Times visitó a finales del año pasado y de nuevo a principios de la primavera, la guerra nunca se ha ido.

Gran parte de esta zona, en las regiones de Járkov y Sumy, solía estar cubierta de tierras agrícolas. Ahora, una granja albergaba una unidad antisabotaje —compuesta por rusos anti-Putin, para evitar el envío de tropas ucranianas a Rusia— que se preparaba antes del amanecer para una incursión transfronteriza.

Los campos están demasiado expuestos al fuego ruso como para que alguien intente cosechar. En su lugar, están repletas de “dientes de dragón”, barreras antitanques de hormigón típicamente unidas con cables y enhebradas con alambre de púas.

En 2022, las tropas rusas invadieron esta zona y casi llegaron a las puertas de ciudades grandes como Járkov y Sumy. Luego, antes de finalizar ese año, las fuerzas ucranianas los obligaron a retroceder y a cruzar de nuevo la frontera a su país.

Los militares rusos comenzaron una nueva ofensiva en la región de Járkov el mes pasado. Pero estas localidades, que se encuentran a menos de 16 kilómetros de la frontera, siempre estuvieron al alcance del fuego de artillería.

Las alarmas no pueden dar suficiente tiempo de advertencia para un bombardeo desde tan cerca, y las defensas aéreas no pueden repelerlo. Los residentes dependen de las entregas de ayuda humanitaria, y la larga y fría espera por los suministros se produce bajo bombardeos casi diarios.

Los bombardeos y los ataques con drones ya se estaban intensificando antes incluso de la nueva ofensiva terrestre.

Además, las fuerzas militares ucranianas ya estaban transformando el entorno: nuevos laberintos de trincheras y búnkeres, más zonas restringidas y vastos campos y bosques repletos de minas terrestres. En los puestos de control, soldados nerviosos pilotaban drones para escanear las carreteras aledañas.

En poco tiempo, aseguró el alcalde de una aldea que se encuentra dentro del alcance de la artillería rusa, no habrá nada que fotografiar excepto perros callejeros y escombros.

El gobierno civil ha tenido problemas para proporcionar suministros y necesidades básicas o para convencer a los residentes de que evacúen por completo. Las escuelas enseñan de forma remota o en búnkeres subterráneos.

La guerra está provocando cambios radicales en una zona donde las familias suelen tener integrantes tanto en Rusia como en Ucrania y donde una fe y una cultura en común se extiende a través de la frontera. Incluso ahora, sigue abierto un cruce fronterizo para los civiles en la región de Sumy.

En la aldea de Richky, a unos 10 kilómetros de la frontera rusa en la región de Sumy, el padre Bohdan de la Iglesia ortodoxa ucraniana afirmó que tras un incremento de los ataques rusos, muy pocas personas podían asistir a la iglesia. Ahora “es solo en las festividades, como la Pascua, que la iglesia está llena”, dijo.

Sus dos hijos se mudaron a Polonia con sus familias antes de que empezara la guerra a gran escala en febrero de 2022. Bohdan y su esposa han resistido el impulso de mudarse al extranjero también.

“Es mi pueblo natal”, afirmó. “¿Cómo podría irme a otro lado?”.

En algunas ciudades y pueblos solo quedaban unas pocas personas, en su mayoría mujeres y personas mayores que no tenían adónde ir. Vovchansk, que se convirtió nuevamente en un campo de batalla en mayo después de que las fuerzas rusas cruzaron la frontera en la región de Járkov, tenía alrededor de 2000 residentes en diciembre, mucho menos que su población antes de la guerra de alrededor de 17.000. Se había deteriorado visiblemente en la primavera.

Las cicatrices de la invasión y los bombardeos habían hecho inhabitables algunos asentamientos recuperados.

La nueva ofensiva de Rusia en Járkov comenzó en el momento quizás más vulnerable de Ucrania desde el inicio de la guerra a gran escala: con sus fuerzas muy dispersas y sus reservas de armas y municiones agotadas después de meses de retraso por parte de su proveedor más importante, Estados Unidos.

Ahora, viene en camino más ayuda estadounidense y el Parlamento de Ucrania ha modificado las reglas de reclutamiento militar para intentar tener más soldados. Pero Rusia parece estar intensificando la presión.

Los funcionarios ucranianos, al mismo tiempo que su reciente petición de tener mayor libertad para disparar armas de fabricación estadounidense en territorio ruso, han señalado una mayor concentración de tropas, incluso justo enfrente de la región de Sumy.

Las zonas fronterizas de Ucrania podrían estar a punto de volverse aún más peligrosas.

Yurii Shyvala, Dzvinka Pinchuk y Oleksandr Chubko colaboraron con reportería.

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