GSTAAD — When Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan met last month with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin about the civil war in Syria, political biographers had a right to be confused. After all, one is the leader of a government that has imprisoned more journalists than China and Iran combined; empowered special courts to arrest citizens on suspicion of terrorism without evidence or the right to a hearing; sentenced two students to eight years in prison for holding a sign at a rally demanding “free education;’ and has seen more than 20,000 complaints filed against it in the European Court of Human Rights since 2008. The other is president of Russia.

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