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Inside a dictator's playground

11 July 2021

8:21 PM

11 July 2021

8:21 PM

Armed soldiers guard the barbed-wire compound. Helicopters buzz around the parameter, drifting above families on tandem bicycles. Groups of giggling bridal parties flirt with camouflaged guards. They watch on, careful to spot the light-fingered.

This is Mezhyhirya, the former playground of exiled Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The estate has been open to the public since the former communist fled to Russia in 2014 after a pro-western revolution.

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