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Turkey

An Homage To Himself, Erdogan's Own Personal Versailles

At 1,000 rooms and a $350 million pricetag, the vast new palace the Turkish president has had built for himself is both illegal and a bold expression of his own power and that of the "new Turkey."

Erdogan and his wife during the celebration of his presidential victory, on Aug. 10.
Erdogan and his wife during the celebration of his presidential victory, on Aug. 10.
Boris Kálnoky

ISTANBUL — If he had a choice today, Sun King Louis XIV might actually prefer to be the Turkish rather than the French head of state. Only a few buildings since Versailles have offered as salient an expression of a sitting leader's claims to power as the new official residence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Though there was also the "People's House" of erstwhile Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the villainous leader was executed before the colossal construction was finished. By comparison to "Genius of the Carpathians" Ceausescu, who laid claim to 3,000 rooms in Bucharest, the ruler of the "new Turkey" is relatively modest with a mere 1,000 rooms.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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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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