The exiled mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, has condemned a report by the German TV channel ZDF about life in his city during the Russian occupation.

“The Russian occupiers are trying to use any Western journalists to show the ‘revival’ of Mariupol,” Boychenko reported on Telegram.

Armin Coerper, the journalist who is the head of the Moscow bureau of the German TV channel ZDF, spoke about the extensive destruction in Mariupol that he observed in a report on Monday.

While he acknowledged that two thirds of the city had been destroyed, at no time did Coerper mention that the destruction was caused by the invading Russian forces.

His report suggested that most of the city's residents are pro-Russian, and that Russians are settling in Mariupol.


“Resistance? I don't see anything like that,” the reporter said and also mentioned that the city needs to be repopulated if its economy is to start working again.

Coerper said that there supposedly rebuilding of schools, residential buildings, and entire neighborhoods in the city.

He noted that in Mariupol, “there is electricity, there is heating, there is hot water and the Internet; shops and restaurants are open.”

As the Mariupol City Council pointed out, Coerper did not comment on the fact that the majority of houses do not have any communal services, as the Mariupol residents themselves testify.

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A German officer said they assumed some flew with “unfriendly intentions” but decided to simply incorporate them into the training to caution Ukrainian troops of the real dangers on the battlefield.

Coerper, general conclusion was: “the city is functioning.” The ZDF channel did acknowledge that Coerper's use of the phrase was ambiguous, and that highlighting this quote in isolation provides only a limited understanding of the reporter's impressions.

ZDF also maintains that in their report from Ukraine, they “left no doubt” that Mariupol is illegally occupied by Russia, delineating it as the aggressor and Ukraine as the victim in this war.

Boychenko, however, underlined the fact that Russia will take words out of context and use them to support their propaganda. “European journalists need to understand this,” he wrote.


He drew attention to the fact that the Russians do not normally allow Western media representatives into the city, and that residents who communicate with them are afraid to tell the truth because consequences may await them.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Oleg Nikolenko, reported on the X social network that the visit of Coerper to the occupied Mariupol without the consent of Ukraine is also a violation of Ukrainian legislation.

“Distorting reality is not journalism,” he wrote.

“We call on ZDF to provide an official explanation. Violating Ukraine’s laws may impact media’s further work in Ukraine,” added Nikolenko.

At the beginning of September 2023, a video emerged online of a Chinese woman who claimed to be an opera singer, Wang Fang, singing the Russian folk tune “Katyusha” amidst the ruins of Mariupol's Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre.

The theatre was destroyed by Russian bombing in March 2022. Wang was with a number of Chinese bloggers who had entered the city.

Ukraine demanded an explanation from Beijing.


Nikolenko stated on his Facebook page at the time: “The performance of the song ‘Katyusha’ by the Chinese ‘opera singer’ Wang Fang in the ruins of the drama theater in Mariupol, where the Russian army killed more than 600 innocent people, is an example of complete moral degradation.”

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