Your Monday Briefing

A photo provided by the Russian government said to show investigators at the site of a car bombing outside Moscow.Credit…Russian Investigative Committee/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A brazen attack near Moscow rattles Russians

Russia has opened a murder investigation into the car bombing that killed Daria Dugina, 29, a hawkish political commentator who was the daughter of a prominent backer of President Vladimir Putin. The attack in Moscow has injected new uncertainty into the six-month war in Ukraine and rattled Russia’s elite.

Russian media outlets described the car bombing as a “terrorist attack.” It occurred on Saturday on a highway and shattered the windows of houses in a wealthy suburb. They said the intended target had been Dugina’s father, the philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, who had taken a different vehicle at the last minute.

Though an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said that the country had played no role in the attack, associates of Daria Dugina’s claimed that Ukraine was behind the bombing. It came in the wake of a number of Ukrainian attacks in the Russian-controlled peninsula of Crimea, and amid calls in Russia for Putin to launch a new assault on Ukraine in retaliation.

Who is Aleksandr Dugin? Often described as “Putin’s brain,” he is a longtime proponent of the idea of an imperial Russia at the helm of a “Eurasian” civilization locked in an existential conflict in the West. His daughter was not well known in Russia beyond ultranationalist and imperialist circles.

For more: In the Kremlin-controlled news media, the war is not about Ukraine, but about a long history of enemies trying to keep Russia down.

Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, at a political rally in Islamabad on Saturday.Credit…Sohail Shahzad/EPA, via Shutterstock

Imran Khan is charged under antiterrorism act

Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, was charged under the country’s antiterrorism act yesterday, in a drastic escalation of the tense power struggle between the country’s current government and its former leader that threatens to set off a fresh round of public unrest and turmoil.

The charges came a day after Khan, the former cricket star who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April, gave an impassioned speech to hundreds of supporters at a rally in Islamabad, condemning the recent arrest of one of his top aides and vowing to file legal cases against police officers and a judge involved in the case.

Khan has not yet commented publicly on the charges. He has not yet been arrested, according to a leader of his political party. Many fear that if he is arrested, it may plunge the country into a new round of public unrest and violent street protests.

Charges: The police report detailing the charges against Khan said that his comments at the rally amounted to a deliberate and illegal attempt to intimidate the country’s judiciary and police force, local news outlets reported.

A market in Kairouan, in northern Tunisia.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The unraveling of Tunisia’s democracy

As the protests that led to the Arab Spring withered over the past decade and authoritarian leaders across the region regained their grip on power, Tunisia remained the region’s greatest hope for democratic change. But in the past two years, its president, Kais Saied, has swept away checks on his power to establish one-man rule, writes Vivian Yee, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, in an analysis.

Veterans of the democracy-building experiment say multiple missteps helped erase Tunisians’ faith in their government. The country cycled through 10 prime ministers in 10 years, none of which could right the former regime’s wrongs or achieve economic progress. A decade from the revolution, Tunisia had greater corruption, higher unemployment, widening poverty and deeper debt.

Most of Tunisia’s post-revolution leaders barely even realized they needed an economic plan. They had speedy, but shortsighted, solutions to address unemployment: hiring thousands of civil servants on government salaries and borrowing from abroad to pay for it. Overall, this costly mistake stoked inflation and burdened the country with ever-growing debt.

Quotable: “It was a race among parties to buy support and votes,” said Ezzeddine Saidane, an economist. Later, when the need to cut the cost of civil servants’ wages became obvious, “politicians lacked the political courage to fire thousands of people at once,” he said.


Around the World

Credit…Wallace Woon/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Singapore will decriminalize sex between consenting men. But the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, said same-sex marriage would continue to be illegal.

  • In 2002, a mob of Hindu men in the Indian state of Gujarat raped a Muslim woman and killed her relatives. Last week, a state government freed the 11 perpetrators and cut short their life sentences.

  • At least 21 people died after a 30-hour siege by Shabab militants at a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

  • Two Ethiopian Airlines pilots reportedly fell asleep at the controls and missed their scheduled window to land in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Aaron Wojack for The New York Times
  • A father took photos of his toddler’s groin for the doctor. Google flagged them as abuse and told the police.

  • The chief executive of the NSO Group, an Israeli spyware firm, is stepping down amid a reshuffle. The U.S. government blacklisted the company last year.

  • Audiences for live performances in the U.S. remain well below prepandemic levels. “People got used to not going places,” one theater director said.

A Morning Read

Credit…Carmen Abd Ali for The New York Times

As more looted art returns to Africa, countries have wrestled with the right way to display it. Benin may have found an answer: More than 200,000 people have come to a free exhibition of artworks that were plundered by French colonial forces at the end of the 19th century and returned last year.


A programming note: Today, we introduce a new component of this newsletter — a sports section, written by the staff of The Athletic.

English soccer is losing its battle with flares and smoke bombs: Billowing smoke and pyrotechnics are becoming increasingly common across stadiums in England. This is happening despite the threat of fines and bans, as well as the reality of terrified children. So far, nothing is working.

Possible moves across the Premier League: The Athletic’s David Ornstein reports on multiple moves that could take place across the league soon. Among them: Arsenal wants to sign Wolves’ midfielder Pedro Neto; Nottingham Forest is eyeing Sergio Reguilon; Leeds United rejected Newcastle’s bid for winger Jack Harrison.

Chelsea can throw millions at its problems. It might not work: The London-based club is desperately trying to buy players before the transfer window shuts, but new arrivals likely won’t solve its problems. Struggles on the pitch are likely to continue.

The Athletic, a New York Times company, is a subscription publication that delivers in-depth, personalized sports coverage. Learn more about The Athletic.


Credit…Noah Thropp/The New York Times

A megasculpture, revealed

For 50 years, the artist Michael Heizer has toiled in a remote stretch of the Nevada desert, working on a sculpture whose size — a mile and a half long, nearly half a mile wide — can be hard to fathom. Now, finally, he is set to open his life’s work, called “City.”

The megasculpture is meant to be explored on foot, allowing the site to swallow you up. Exquisitely groomed mounds, buttes and depressions spread far into the distance. Monumental structures evoke ancient ruins.

Soon, the site will open to the public — sort of. Visitors will be able to apply for tickets online, with free admission to local residents. To prevent crowds from diluting the experience, the current plan allows for only six tickets a day, and only on some days during certain times of the year. Ticket-holders will be picked up from a nearby town and allowed to roam the site for a few hours.

Because there are no lights on the road and no cellphone service, they will be driven back before dark, meaning they won’t get to see the sun rise and set, prime hours. Never mind no gift shop. There aren’t even benches.

Read the full article here, with mesmerizing drone video by Noah Throop.


What to Cook

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A dish of steamed mussels with garlic and parsley is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Letter of Recommendation

Write fan mail to artists you admire.

What to Watch

“House of the Dragon,” a prequel series to “Game of Thrones,” is here. Read our review, and sign up for our newsletter for weekly recaps and coverage.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Backpack or purse (three letters).

And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Theodore Roosevelt became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly appear in an automobile 120 years ago today.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about cosmic questions.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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