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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia

REUTERS/Adriano Machado

What We're Watching: Bolsonaro heads to Moscow, Biden moves on frozen Afghan funds, Tunisia's dwindling democracy

Bolsonaro’s bold move. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is heading to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin despite objections from the US and his own aides about the timing, given the Ukraine crisis. But “Tropical Trump” may think the time is just right to try and boost his domestic popularity with some time on the international stage. He’s currently trailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the run-up to Brazil’s October election. With over 600,000 COVID deaths since the panbdemic started and a battered economy, Bolsonaro also needs to bring home some bacon. Moscow recently issued a two-month ban on exports, and since Brazil is the biggest buyer of Russia’s nitrate fertilizer, Brazilian farmers are worried about their crops. Bolsonaro is expected to ask Putin to revoke the ban. If he secures the deal overseas, will it give him a boost back home?

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What We’re Watching: Robocop calls Tunisian referendum, Boris on the ropes, gloomy Iran nuclear talks

Tunisian constitutional referendum. Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has called a constitutional referendum for July 25, 2022 — the one-year anniversary of when he seized almost all executive power in the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring. Saied says his intervention was necessary to put an end to political corruption and economic stagnation, while critics say it was a coup. The president — a former constitutional law professor known as "Robocop" for his monotone speech delivery — will appoint a committee of experts to draft a new charter ahead of the plebiscite, and then hold legislative elections by the end of next year, but parliament will remain suspended until then. Saied knows he needs to make democratic reforms in order to gain access to badly-needed international credit. Tunisia's ailing economy faces a perfect storm of sluggish growth, a huge budget deficit, a pile of IMF debt, and rising inflation. Although his takeover was welcomed by many Tunisians tired of corruption and mismanagement, things could get very dicey for Robocop if he’s not able to fix the economy soon.

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