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Eggs from the dacha, anyone?
Eggs from the dacha, anyone?
Igor Abakumov

MOSCOW — I'm going to share my own observations about myself, yes, but also about my neighbors in the countryside.

I spent last summer in a 100-year-old house outside of Moscow. In between writing articles, I maintained two beehives and pruned old apple, cherry and currant trees. I harvested. I made jam and extracted honey. I went to the store to get canning jars, a store that used to have just a small jar selection but now features a huge display with a wide selection of canning options.

The saleswoman said demand is booming. Buyers are mostly city people who inherited a house in the area. We're buying for more or less the same reasons: Some people raise cows and are selling milk; others are making goose, duck and chicken meat conserves. My neighbor to the left has a huge apiary, my neighbor to the right sells quail eggs. Both of them are city people I've known for more than 30 years.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s Decoy-In-Chief

The Russian Foreign Minister, among the country’s most recognizable figures, embodies both the corruption and confusion of the Putin regime. Not everything is what it seems — and that’s the point.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a diplomatic reception for heads of African diplomatic missions

Anna Akage

From the outside, one might have the impression that the Russian Federation is run through a highly complex and well-coordinated apparatus that ensures that any single cog in Vladimir Putin’s system is by definition both in synch with the other cogs — and utterly replaceable. The Kremlin appears to us through this lens as an impregnable citadel with long arms and peering eyes that are literally everywhere.

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And yet, this is a completely false picture — and there’s no greater proof than in looking more closely at one of Russia's most prominent figures, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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