Russia's President Vladimir Putin made a surprise nighttime trip to Mariupol over the weekend, his first visit to territory captured from Ukraine since the start of Moscow's 2022 invasion.

A video distributed by the Kremlin showed him landing by helicopter in Mariupol, the port city that Moscow captured after a long siege last spring.

And then things got a bit … weird.

The timing

For some reason, Putin chose the dead of night for his visit, touring the city and meeting residents in the early hours of the morning.

Maybe he’s a night owl or he’s developed a sensitivity to UV rays in his old age?

Or, as suggested by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, it’s so the cameras wouldn’t be able to see the city his forces reduced to ruins last year.

The dissenter

During Vladimir Putin's conversation with residents of the Nevsky residential area in Mariupol, someone allegedly shouted: "This is all not true! It's all for show!".

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This moment was picked up by microphones and remained audible on the video, published on the website of the President of the Russian Federation, by the Kremlin's press service.

It is difficult to make out exactly what the woman shouted, who is not visible in the frame. However, after the shout, the people accompanying Putin, including Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, began to turn around and signal to each other.

The district

Not surprisingly, Nevsky, where Putin was filmed, is the only district within the devastated city to have been rebuilt. This was highlighted by the responses of local residents on Telegram.

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The Telegram channel "We can explain" contained quotes from residents of other districts of Mariupol:

"It's a pity that he didn't drive up to our house, the left bank, the square! No windows, no doors, no hot water or heating."

"He was taken to the places that have been preserved and new buildings. No one will show him empty pits under the foundations of destroyed houses."

"Nobody needs us here. Everything is done for the picture on TV so that people in Russia watch it."

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Mariupol, once a bustling port on the shores of the Sea of Azov, was left devastated after relentless bombardment and months of brutal siege by Moscow. Ukraine's authorities estimate that over half of the buildings and 90% of the infrastructure in the city were destroyed during the Russian assaults.

The chin

Was it really him? This rare public appearance by Putin has once again fueled speculation that he was using a body double and quotes as evidence, this time, his rather weak chin.

Kyiv Post asked a representative of Ukrainian military intelligence, Andriy Yusov, for his opinion on what might actually have gone on there.

"A man that looks like Putin visited Mariupol," he said.

The residents

Local, Kremlin-appointed, authorities tried their best to put on a show for Putin's visit to Mariupol. Footage, taken by the Kremlin press service, allegedly shows residents of the destroyed city.

Standing in front of the man, the hand-picked crowd chorused that in reference to the new apartments in the area that, even though they have been deprived of everything, they're still grateful to Putin what he has given them: "Thank you for the victory. We are praying for you. We waited. This is a small piece of paradise," the locals told Putin.

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The organization, "Mariupol - The Resistance" identified some of the "heroes" who appeared in the propaganda videos.

In particular, one man turned out to be a resident of another city in the Donetsk region.

The woman who said she was "praying for Putin" is called Iryna Volosatova, who is an actual a resident of Mariupol who has always held extremely pro-Russian views.

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Comments ( 1)

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jason
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This is Theresianstad all over again. This town in World War 2, was the cover story for "Resettlement in the East", for the Jews. Everything is good? Everything is fine! It is so absolutely fake!!! See through it!!

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