Monday 31 October 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 31/10/2022

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has claimed victory over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election. For reaction to Lula’s triumph, tune in to Monocle 24 today.

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Carlota Rebelo

In the line of fire

After a two-hour flight from London to Kraków, then three hours by train to Przemyśl, near the border with Ukraine, and a 12-hour overnight train journey later, I’m back in Kyiv. It has been nearly three months since my last visit at the end of July, and if a day in news is a long time, the same can be said about a day in war. Since the drone attacks by Moscow on 10 October, tension has returned to the capital – something I didn’t sense in the summer. Both scheduled and unscheduled power cuts are frequent and street lighting is reduced to a minimum to spare the electricity grid, which has been under severe strain since Russia destroyed nearly 30 per cent of Ukraine’s power plants this month. People are making preparations for what is expected to be a harsh winter, gathering thermal clothing and, in some cases, storing firewood.

Yet much of the city still feels exactly the same. At lunchtime restaurants are busy, people walk their dogs in the parks and bars start filling up as the working day draws to a close, with candles inadvertently heightening the romance of the settings. On the train into Ukraine, a fellow traveller simply said, upon finding out that I was heading towards Kyiv, “Thank you for what you do but I hope that you’re not afraid because we definitely aren’t.” The resilience and kindness of everyone I encounter remains undiminished.

But is it possible to remain positive while your country continues to be under attack? “I’m an optimist but there are, of course, moments when I feel blue,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, tells The Monocle Minute. “I always feel this burden on my shoulders that I’m responsible for the lives of millions of people.” We met the day after Russia’s Vladimir Putin addressed his nation and the threat of nuclear war hangs heavy in the air. When asked about how he feels about Moscow, Kuleba has one word: “Disgust.” Then he says, “They’re miserable people trying to make, through diplomacy, excuses for the atrocities and crimes that they have committed. And pure evil has to fail.”

Carlota Rebelo is Monocle’s senior producer and presenter. Listen to Monocle 24’s ‘The Briefing’ for her reporting on the ground in Kyiv.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / Argentina

Power play

The EU hopes to imminently sign an energy memorandum with Argentina, according to the bloc’s foreign-policy chief, Josep Borell. As Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy and tackle supply problems triggered by the war in Ukraine, officials are eyeing up the South American country’s large unconventional gas reserves. Buenos Aires has a lot to gain too. “Argentina has a $45bn (€45bn) loan that is slowly being dispersed by the IMF, pending reforms,” Christopher Sabatini, senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, tells The Monocle Minute. “This could provide some much-needed hard currency for the central bank to address its debt problem.” The deal would increase Argentina’s stake in the global economy. “The current government has been struggling economically and politically. This would give it some prestige and show that it can shore up international investment and interest.”

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Kenya

United front

Last week, Kenyan president William Ruto set his sights on re-election in 2027, hinting at plans to achieve a one-party system. Ruto, a mentee of former president Kenyatta before the pair fell out in 2018, narrowly won a general election in mid-September with 50.5 per cent of the vote. Now, Ruto is hoping to give Kenya a solid ruling political party after two decades of incoming administrations undoing previous parties’ work.

He’s been rewarding loyalists in his Kenya Kwanza party with committee posts to support his legislative agenda but now some party members are voicing concerns over the lack of regional balancing. During his campaign, Ruto rose to prominence by branding himself as a man of the people. In these next few months his bottom-up approach to the economy to help the poor with the cost-of-living crisis will be his first big test.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Italy

Rocking the boat

With Italy’s newly minted rightwing government starting to think about policy, we’re slowly getting an idea of how things might shape up. As expected, the hot-button issue of immigration hasn’t taken long to rear its head. In fact, it’s no surprise that Matteo Salvini – deputy PM and minister of infrastructure who has seen his star wane – is looking to command headlines. Since taking office, his first meeting was with the coastguard, which he has been quick to point out falls under his remit because of the ports. The new interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, also seems to be from the Salvini school of thought.

He’s declared that two humanitarian boats holding about 326 refugees should not be allowed into territorial waters. Giorgia Meloni, the far-right Fratelli d’Italia prime minister trying to hold together a coalition of big egos, has been strangely quiet on the issue, choosing to fight other battles for now.

Image: Chi Lam

Art / Washington

Art of renewal

The Rubell Museum DC in Washington, built to house the collection of art power couple Don and Mera Rubell, opened to the public this weekend. The arrival of a major art institution in this southwestern corner of the District of Columbia is a significant development. The Urban Renewal Plan of the 1950s demolished swaths of the area and tore apart its communities; for decades it lay fragmented and suffered from the policy’s aftereffects.

Architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, whose 2003 master plan for the waterfront helped to kick-start its revival, returned to the southwest to work on the new museum – a restoration of a historic school that was founded in 1906. “It was raining on the inside when we started,” says Hany Hassan, the project’s lead architect. “But the dilapidation concealed an architectural gem.” Beyer Blinder Belle was always mindful that the structure should play second fiddle to the collection. “The Rubells’ philosophy was that the building should be an envelope for the art and we believe that too.”

Image: Federico Cedrone

Monocle 24 / On Design Extra

The evolution of a chair

Celebrated designer Antonio Citterio discusses his recent partnership with Knoll to create the Klismos collection, a series of chairs and sofas.

Monocle Films / Georgia

Tsinandali tunes

The first edition of a Georgian festival that’s bringing together musicians from the Caucasus to discuss their shared future.


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