tv DW News LINKTV May 16, 2022 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT
q conor: hello, and welcome to “focus on europe.” europe is breathing a sigh of relief. france's president, emmanuel macron, who campaigned as a staunch defender of the european project, will remain the head of state. with almost 59% of the vote, macron will go into his second term with a clear majority. his victory came after a runoff election against the far-right candidate marine le pen. the evening of the election, her supporters took to the streets in protest.
now, marine le pen may have lost the runoff, but her margin also shows just how divided france currently is. the question remains -- were the votes for le pe, and her far-right populist platform, or were they against the current president and his policies? one of our reporters spent the election evening and the following day with 20-year-old ronan drean, one of many people in france who are feeling frustrated and forgotten. reporter: ronan is trying to distract himself by working in the garden. he's worried about his future, now that emmanuel macron has been re-elected to office. ronan: nobody really takes young people seriously. nobody listens to us. we don't get help from the state, for example, with housing. as soon as we have a job and an income, we get no support. it's not easy. reporter:
ronan has a job selling furniture. he has to help support his parents, because his father's pension is just 900 euros a month. ronan feels forgotten, like many here in mantes-la-ville, 40 kilometers west of paris. that's why, like most residents here, he voted for the far-right populist marine le pen. le pen promised to do more for the socially disadvantaged if she won. but the night before, the results showed she had fallen short. >> emmanuel macron, re-elected with 58% of the vote. ronan: oh, damn. now we have to deal with another five years of this. it's a shame that what happened the last five years wasn't talked about more. reporter: ronan and his friend nicolas think president macron has supported big companies more than he has vulnerable french citizens, and that he got too involved in the r in ukraine.
the two spent election night outside their local bar because the owner didn't want to be filmed or talk about politics anymore. nicolas: young people are tomorrow's leaders. they shouldn't be turned into outsiders, they should be supported and treated as partners. they have something to say, and politicians should listen to them. reporter: five more years, the crowd is chanting in the center of paris. emmanuel macron is aware of the challenges ahead. he addressed everyone in his victory speech, including voters who had supported his challenger. pres. macron: and finally, my thoughts go to those who voted for madame le pen. i understand their disappointment this evening. no, don't boo anyone. i've asked that there be no
booing this evening. reporter: macron vowed to unite france. but although he did receive the majority of votes, and many feel relieved the liberal-centrist candidate won, on election night it was clear that france is divided. >> i think that many young people who voted for le pen have social and economic problems. if we want them to vote for a different party in future, we need to show them that marine le pen's political program would have disastrous consequences for other people. reporter: marine le pen toned down her xenophobic rhetoric for this year's campaign. she also promised that people under 30 would not have to pay taxes. that helped contribute to what was her best election result to date. and le pen's far-right party is
stronger than ever. experts say many voters are put off by president macron's style. vincent: macron's top-down leadership style has stirred up a lot of discontent. he may come across as a good statesman abroad, but in france many felt dismissed by him. he was accused of deliberately seeking a showdown with the far-right, in a cynical strategy to ensure his victory. reporter: ronan believes the far-right could win the next election. and he doesn't see france overcoming its divisions any time soon. conor: at this point, millions of ukrainians have fled abroad to escape the war in their country, like lilia litkovskaya. but the fashion designer, meanwhile, is back in her homeland, despite the dangers of war. she's one of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have already returned to ukraine to fight, to help, or simply
because they wanted to go home. with the war having shifted to the southeast, russian attacks on the western part of ukraine have subsided. but even in lviv, near the polish border, where lilia is hoping to rebuild her future in ukraine, the war is never far behind. reporter: what's the right material to work with? lilia and her team must improvise here in lviv. lilia: but this is also wool. anna: it is wool, but it's got some kind of polyester and it is lighter. lilia: i think we need to produce from what we have. reporter: this could normally be a typical conversation between designers. but nothing is business as usual for lilia and her team anymore. lilia used to lead a team of designers in kyiv. when the war began, she fled to france. now she is back in ukraine.
lilia: it's impossible to leave my team behind. i need to give people jobs, faith in the future. that's why i am here. my return is about supporting ukraine and those who don't know whether to return or what to do, how to live. reporter: shaken by the brutality of this war, she says she wants to secure jobs for her team, who all had to flee from kyiv to lviv. here in lviv, in this wedding factory, she has found a temporary workspace. lilia believes her country has a future. lilia: my message to all women who are abroad and who may think about returning and what to do here, i want to tell them, we have the strongest men in the world. we will win and we can overcome anything. reporter:
at the train station in lviv, the last stop for ople who are trying to reach safety. masses of people tightly packed in front of trains heading for poland. they all want to leave what they've experienced behind them. much like liuba and her two grandchildren, who needed four days to get here from kharkiv. a city in the east of the country that has been particularly devastated. liuba: at home in balaklia, in the kharkiv region, horrible things are happening. there are bombings, dead bodies are lying around in the village. two villages were completely destroyed. reporter: her grandson, 16-year-old kyryl, doesn't know if he will ever return to ukraine. kyryl: i will stay with my parents in poland. i will study and live there
somehow. reporter: however, a small but growing number of refugees are returning to ukraine. most of them are men ready to fight, but it's estimated that one out of every five are women. some return to help their relatives escape, while others try to help in any way they can. and lilia simply wants to continue with her work. she proudly shows this dress. lilia: these clothes are made during wartime, but inside, there is peace. reporter: but when will peace return to ukraine? for now, the war is present here, too. our interview interrupted by air raid sirens. lilia: oh, the air raid siren again. girls, if you want to go down, go. oh, it's terrible.
i am afraid, because it's unpredictable. we need to stay alive. reporter: the factory could be a target too, lilia explains, as we head to the bunker. in spite of everything, lilya thinks the decision to return was a good one. lilia: everyone is responsible for their own actions. and everyone decides for themselves what they do, what they say, the choices they make, what ukraine means to them. this is my choice. reporter: and also her risk. as long as the war continues, a life in constant fear, she says.
but she doesn't want to leave the country again. conor: we will stay in lviv for now, where there now exists a kind of safe house for journalists. this local media center provides them not only with information, but also with helmets and bulletproof vests. many ukrainian media workers have now become war correspondents, reporting amidst the wailing of sirens and nightly curfews, and risking their lives all the while. for internally displaced people like viktor kovalenko, the center has become a place of refuge. because in regions under attack, journalists are being targeted by russian troops. reporter: this is where the ukrainian journalist viktor kovalenko is currently staying, in the media forum building in lviv. viktor: i stuffed my whole life into this backpack. then i left, together with my family. reporter: his wife and children have
since left the country. the family fled their home in the south of ukraine. they started from the port of berdyansk on the sea of azov, and had to pass through 12 russian checkpoints, says viktor. for the journalist, these checkpoints were 12 threats to his life. viktor: at first, i tried to find reasons to stay. but two or three weeks after the war began, it had become clear that journalists were being targeted, along with activists, patriots, and local authorities. reporter: there are reports of russian soldiers searching for journalists in occupied areas. at first, people in berdyansk held daily protests against the invasion, as seen here in a video shot in secret and released by the ukrainian
culture ministry. hardly any reliable information is making its way out of the city. the lviv media forum has been set up for journalists like viktor kovalenko to continue their work in relative safety. they are also being financed by donations from abroad, including from the non-profit ngo reporters without borders. media forum ceo olha myrovych has just received a new aid shipment from abroad, including helmets, bulletproof vests, and splinter guards. olha: not all journalists were prepared to work in wartime conditions and cover events on the frontline. almost right from the very start, protective equipment like this became scarce. reporter: ukrainian journalists have suddenly had to become war reporters.
they have little choice. olha: i'm convinced that eliminating freedom of speh was part of russia's plan for the invasion of ukraine. you don't need additional proof -- it's enough to look at what's happening in the occupied regions. reporter: olha myrovych says journalists in these regions are collecting evidence of russian war crimes. by comparison, lviv is relatively safe. at least for now. viktor kovalenko has been able to breathe a sigh of relief. but he's looking for a new job, which isn't easy. independent media have also been hit by the russian invasion, since advertising revenues have collapsed. many businesses are struggling to survive. the local reporter will have to re-invent himself.
viktor: i'm physically here, but my thoughts are far away, they are still over there. reporter: viktor kovalenko is hoping for a quick end to the war and the return of peace, and that he'll be able to return home to berdyansk. conor: lithuania is sandwiched between the russian exclave of kaliningrad and the russia-friendly state of belarus. only a narrow land border, the suwalki gap, connects lithuania with the other baltic states, estonia and latvia, and with the eu and nato. that has rekindled fears in lithuanians like paulius likauskas that russia will occupy this land link and isolate the baltic states. he has been preparing for such an emergency for a long time, and in the event putin does attack his country, he wants to be ready to fight back.
reporter: target practice at close range. for three years, paulius liskauskas has been honing his skills at the paramilitary lithuanian riflemen's union. membership has been growing by leaps and bounds these days. paulius: russian state propaganda has set its sights on lithuania. that means we could be next. reporter: the suwalki gap is especially critical. it's a corridor of land, barely 65 kilometers wide, between lithuania and poland. it's the only land bridge from the baltic republics to the rest of the nato member states. fears are running high that moscow might plan to sever this connection. the war in ukraine can even be
felt in the lithuanian border town vilkaviskis, as more and more ukrainian refugees pour in. red cross volunteers are collecting groceries and clothing for them. irina tiktarova fled from the city of kharkiv in northeast ukraine. now, she's helping other refugees. many of her friends and relatives stayed in their homes in ukraine. irina: we're safe here, but the war is constantly on our minds. we re-live it every day, over and over again. that's what it's like for all ukrainians living abroad now. reporter: irina is grateful for the great solidarity the lithuanians have shown. the locals here share her outrage over the russian invasion. paulius liskauskas is also
enraged. but he's careful to distinguish between the kremlin's policies and ordinary russian citizens. paulius: i have russian customers who i stay in touch with. i don't feel any personal hatred toward them, more toward their state and the russian state propaganda. reporter: but some russians civilians do feel the effects of russia's invasion when they take the train through lithuania to the russian exclave kaliningrad. they're not allowed to set foot on lithuanian territory. but from the train's windows, they're confronted with images of the war, and billboards with questions like, do they really want to support russian president putin? the war on ukraine has sent a wake-up call through all the baltic republics, lithuanian politicians warn.
their country must arm itself against the russian aggressor. laurynas: i would say we are more patriotic. you should defend your freedom and so on. it's like an understanding of these fundamental things. we have just a few years to prepare ourselves. that's why we need more nato presence in our region as a very credible deterrent. reporter: paulius liskauskas hopes nato will station more troops in lithuania. but if worse comes to worst, he's prepared to go to war, even as a civilian, along with some 14,000 other volunteers in the pamilitary union. paulius: it's hard to talk about the future. we live in difficult times, and nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. so, we need to focus on the here and now, take small steps,
and reinforce our own country with patriotism. reporter: many lithuanians are ready and on the alert. especially near the suwalki gap, where people are afraid they may suddenly find themselves on the frontline should russia attack. conor: for our last report, we would really like to introduce you to an italian named cibo. cibo means "food" in italian, and that is exactly what this graffiti artist spray-paints onto the walls, buildings, and electrical boxes in his home province of verona. but if you''re wondering whether cibo is just really fond of italian delicacies, it's actually much more than that. his paintings cover up nazi graffiti. and in a region that today is a stronghold for the far-right movement, his paintings are covering up the smell of a fascist past.
reporter: veronaa picture-perfect city renaissance palaces, the arena, and juliet's balcony from william shakespeare's play -- the city's romance appeals to tourists. but this is also verona -- swastikas sprayed onto walls, fascist tags, and messages of hate. pier: everywhere else swastikas get painted over immediately. but not in verona. reporter: pier paolo spinazzé decided to take on the job himself. he's also known by his professional name, cibo. pier: a swastika was sprayed onto this picture of mine. so i'm going to turn it into a pumpkin muffin. reporter: a trick that's become his signature -- cibo turns racist graffiti into pictures of
italian specialities. pier: the fascists know i'm the one doing this. i'd already painted over fascist symbols here. but they came back to say, “this is our territory.” what i'm doing is technically illegal, so in theory i risk years of prison each time i do it. reporter: but it's never come to that. in fact, he says most police officers seem to approve of his work. and passersby also seem to support cibo's efforts. >> bravo. that's the graffiti. pier: i'm about to cover them with pumpkin muffins. >> pumpkin muffins? pier: yes. reporter: he posts videos of his work on instagram. and with nearly 400,000 followers, he's become famous around the world.
but each mural he paints putsg targeted himself. pier: these guys showed up in front of my house several times. once they put a firework under my car. but luckily, there wasn't much damage. they also went to my parents' house and threatened them. reporter: this hasn't deterred the artist from his mission. even if the police have failed to arrest his attackers. pier: why are all the threats i receive ignored? that's a question i've often asked myself. every citizen ought to say no to these messages of hate. i'm nothing special. everyone should take a stance. it's outrageous that i'm painting over the swastikas instead of the municipal government. reporter:
what eues is a game of cat and mouse between cibo and the o-fascist taggers. pier: you can't fight themith their weapons. you have to use your own. and confronting them with the power of beauty disorients them, because that's one area where they'll always lose. reporter: cibo says swastikas are common here for a reason. even after mussolini, verona remained a stronghold of the neo-fascist far-right. pier: here, it's normal to own a mussolini bust passed down from your grandfather. people laugh at racist jokes or joke about “uncle hitler.” those things aren't funny. but here in verona, people joke about them. that's why this culture of hate found fertile soil here. reporter: cibo has a notebook where he keeps a record of the swastikas and hate-filled tags, and of
his paintings. he keeps a record of his murals on a map. cibo's passion for food extends to the kitchen. his pictures of pasta, pizza, and other specialties have won him lots of fans. pier: many people have approached me to tell me they only realized the extent of the problem after seeing my graffiti. they were so used to seeing swastikas and hate speech. a fascist feels ridiculed to be covered over with cheese. it shows them that they're not being taken seriously or seen as dangerous, that they're not being respected. reporter: cibo's dream is to one day have no more work, because then verona would have no more symbols of hate. conor: that brings this edition of “focus on europe” to a close. and as always, you can find the
♪♪ ♪♪ -in a small town above palermo stands one of sicily's great art treasures -- the cathedral of monreale. ♪♪ in the 11th century, when the muslim arabs were tossed out by the christian normans, the normans made sicilian civilization grander yet, building monumental norman churches. this massive church, so richly ornamented, shows the glory of that age. ♪♪ ancient columns and capitals, gifted by the pope to bolster his southern border of christendom, were shipped here all the way from rome.
♪♪ the church was built to show off the power of the norman king, william ii, shown here boldly standing while being crowned by christ. the interior is famous for its exquisite 12th-century mosaics. each panel tells a story from the bible. there's adam and eve being tempted by the serpent, angels climbing jacob's ladder, and noah building his ark and filling it with animals. ♪♪ it was designed to function as a bible storybook. for centuries, early christians debated whether or not images were appropriate in church. to solve this controversy, called the iconoclastic controversy, a pope called a convention -- the council of nicaea in the 8th century. the result -- images are okay if they teach the christian message.
>> welcome to live from paris. these are the headlines. president emmanual macron names a new prime minister of france. only the second woman to hold the post. ahead of the parliamentary elections next month. russians repelled, ukraine's troops say they've reached the russian border north of kharkiv. meanwhile russians