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A Russian artist was arrested and sentenced to 7 years in prison for replacing the price labels at a local supermarket with anti-war stickers. @femagainstwar/BBC

Hard Numbers: Russian artist pays “price” for anti-war campaign, West Bank settler violence surges, US “lawmakers” fail to live up to the name, Liberians make their choice, Starbucks employees go on strike

7: Numbers are not a crime! Except in Russia, where a St. Petersburg court has sentenced 33-year-old artist Sasha Skochilenko to seven years in prison for spreading “false information” about the Russian army. Skochilenko was arrested for replacing the price labels at a local supermarket with Hard Numbers-style stickers carrying new “prices” and descriptions like “The Russian army bombed an art school in Mariupol killing 400 people,” or “I haven’t heard from my sister in Ukraine in eight days.”

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A ballot box is emptied and the counting of ballots begins. In Bavaria, the election for the 19th Bavarian state parliament took place on Sunday.

Pia Bayer/dpa via Reuters

What We're Watching: Three votes that matter

In other world news, we’re tracking the implications of three important votes.
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A protester near the Invalides during a demonstration against the government's pension reform plan in Paris

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

What We’re Watching: An encore for French protesters, Zelensky’s growing wish list, Weah’s reelection bid

Round Two: French pension reform strikes

For the second time in a month, French workers held mass protests on Tuesday against the government’s proposed pension reform, which would raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. Organized by the country’s eight big trade unions, authorities say as many as 1.27 million protesters hit the streets nationwide, bringing Paris to a standstill and closing schools throughout France. (Unions say the number was higher.) Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron is sticking to his guns, saying that incrementally raising the national retirement age by 2030 is crucial to reducing France’s ballooning deficit. (Currently, 14% of France’s public spending goes toward its pension program – the third-highest of any OECD country.) But for Macron, this is about more than just economics; his political legacy is on the line. Indeed, the ideological chameleon came to power in 2017 as a transformer and tried to get these pension reforms done in 2019, though he was ultimately forced to backtrack. But as Eurasia Group Europe expert Mujtaba Rahman points out, protesters’ “momentum is the key” and could determine whether legislators from the center-right back Macron or get swayed by the vibe on the street. This would force him to go at it alone using a constitutional loophole, which never makes for good politics. More demonstrations are planned for Feb.7 and Feb. 11.

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