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Ukraine

In Ukraine, The Zelensky Revolution Crashes Into Reality

The head of state, a political outsider who had promised to fight corruption, must contend with the powerful oligarchs in his own entourage at the risk of disappointing his voters.

At a protest in Kiev against COVID-19 restriction measures
At a protest in Kiev against COVID-19 restriction measures
Faustine Vincent

KIEV — At the appointed hour, a crowd of fur hats and coats gathers in front of the town hall. The thermometer reads -17°C on this January Sunday in Kryvyi Rih, located in central Ukraine. Demonstrators take turns speaking in front of the austere building. "We are very poor, the charges are increasing and the nation is under threat; we have to oppose the rates," a woman says. "Zelensky sold our city to the oligarchs!" says another.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, grew up here, in this industrial city of 630,000 inhabitants that is bristling with waste mountains and factory chimneys, the sky hidden by a veil of pollution.

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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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