Your Wednesday Briefing

In parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine, Russia has also begun occupying cyberspace. It has cleaved off Ukrainians in Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol from the rest of the country, limiting access to news about the war and communication with loved ones. In some territories, the internet and cellular networks have been shut down altogether.

Restricting internet access is part of a Russian authoritarian playbook that is likely to be replicated further if the country takes more Ukrainian territory. The occupied areas are now in the grip of a vast digital censorship and surveillance apparatus, with Russia able to track web traffic and digital communications, spread propaganda and manage the flow of information.

Russia’s rerouting and censorship of the Ukrainian internet has little historical precedent. In 2014, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, a state telecommunications company built infrastructure to redirect internet traffic from Crimea to Russia. Data from Ukrainian networks is now being redirected through those cables, researchers said.

Circumvention: To help people in those areas connect to the global internet, Ukraine’s government is providing free access to certain VPN services. Ukrainian officials are also seeking donations for routers and other equipment to put internet service into bomb shelters, including those at schools.

In other news from the war:


An F.BI. search on Monday of the Florida home of Donald Trump, with explosive legal and political implications, has raised new questions about the former president’s vulnerability to prosecution and has fueled further partisan division.

In apparent contravention of the Presidential Records Act, Trump took materials, including sensitive documents, with him to Florida when he left the White House. People familiar with the inquiry said the Justice Department had grown concerned about the whereabouts of possible classified information and whether Trump’s team was being fully forthcoming.

Trump’s aides and allies intensified their criticism of the search yesterday, asserting, without citing any evidence, that it was a brazen use of prosecutorial power for political purposes and casting Trump as a victim. President Biden’s press secretary said he had received no advance word of the decision to carry out the search. The Justice Department has maintained public silence.

Background: Throughout his presidency, Trump was disdainful of record-preservation laws and was known to tear up documents and in some cases to flush them down toilets. The National Archives determined last year that many important presidential documents were missing and believed to be in his possession.

Analysis: The search of the Mar-a-Lago estate is a high-risk gamble by the Justice Department, but Trump faces risks of his own, writes Michael D. Shear, a White House correspondent for The Times.


Polls in Kenya’s hotly contested presidential election closed yesterday after months of bitter jostling and mud slinging. Supporters cheered one of the front-runners, Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader, at his Nairobi stronghold, while William Ruto, his rival and a former vice president, praised the majesty of democracy after casting his vote before dawn.

The electoral commission estimated voter turnout at 60 percent — a huge drop from the 80 percent turnout in the 2017 election, and a sign that many Kenyans, stung by economic hardship or jaded by endemic corruption, preferred to stay home. In the coming days, the critical question is not only who won the race, but whether the loser will accept defeat.

Past elections have led to rocky periods involving accusations of vote-rigging, protracted courtroom dramas, bouts of street violence and even a murder mystery. It can be weeks, even months, before a new president is sworn in. Polls in this election were too close to call, and vote counting is continuing.

Results: The winning candidate needs more than 50 percent of the vote, as well as one-quarter of the vote in 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties. Failure to meet that bar means a runoff within 30 days. The most likely event is a legal challenge, analysts say. Any citizen or group can challenge the initial result in court within seven days.

In their first year at U.S. universities, women like Suhaila Hashimi, above, who escaped the Taliban are struggling to adjust — and to reckon with their past.

“If I close my eyes, I remember the bad things,” she said. “I experienced them. But still, I feel like it’s better to think it was all a bad dream, and it never happened.”

Issey Miyaki, the Japanese designer famed for his micro-pleated clothing, died on Friday at 84.

The crowds have returned to one of the most popular selfie spots in New York, if not the world: the Brooklyn waterfront in Dumbo, where the arch of the Manhattan Bridge frames the Empire State Building in the distance. People who live there aren’t feeling #grateful, Ginia Bellafante writes in the Big City column in The Times.

In what has become one of New York’s toniest neighborhoods, community members have complained about the congestion at the site, as well as the economy that has evolved around it — the parade of food trucks, too many of which, neighbors maintain, are parked illegally and have dumped trash with abandon.

“We have seen tourism approach prepandemic levels, and people are working at home and seeing it from a different perspective now,” one city councilman said. “It’s a lot for people living there.”

Researchers have previously identified a so-called “attraction shading effect,” where selfies at popular destinations — like those in front of the bridge — tended to marginalize the place itself, focusing instead almost entirely on the person’s own image.

Academics have posited that a mounting social narcissism may intersect with travel; a pursuit traditionally driven by wanderlust now seems beholden to an indifferent self-absorption. If historic sites and sacred spaces begin to market themselves merely as backdrop, will we witness the slow erasure of cultural heritage?

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