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Economy

The Sultans Of Spa: Inside The Parisian Luxury Hotel War

Properties of Saudi princes, the sultan of Brunei, billionaires from Qatar and Asia, and a few of the wealthiest people in France, Parisian palaces-turned-hotels are a high-rolling industry.

Lobby of the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris
Lobby of the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris
Claire Fleury

PARIS — She looks like the heroine in a Hitchcock movie. Tall and well-dressed in her black suit, the young lady walks into a suite at the Four Seasons George V Hotel with a supple and muffled step. She is not a customer, but the floor’s head housekeeper. She has come to make sure the chambermaid did a good job: looking under the furniture, inspecting drawers, examining the bathroom, and lastly checking that everything left for the guests is in place — champagne, exotic fruits and dark-chocolate-covered strawberries.

“We’re expecting a couple,” she explains.

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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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