Video footage showing a woman harshly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with the “grateful” residents of Mariupol have been removed from the official Kremlin portal.
The city of Mariupol, located in the south of Ukraine With a pre-war population of 450,000, it was nearly destroyed by Russian bombs before Putin’s forces seized control of its ruins last May.
Since then, Russia has built a modest housing estate for about 600 peoplebut critics say almost nothing else has been done to improve living conditions for the shattered city’s remaining residents.
Putin paid a surprise visit to Mariupol on Saturday and reached the Nevsky residential complex after dark. The Kremlin insisted that the visit was spontaneous. A so-called neighbor told Putin that the property was a “little piece of paradise” and that the locals were “praying” for him.
As he was speaking, another woman suddenly appeared in a nearby playground and, according to footage broadcast on state television, yelled something like: “Everything is lies, everything is for show”. The Kremlin has since posted a new video without the offensive comments on its website.
After Putin’s visit, locals indicated that most of them still lived in damaged houses by Russian bombs. “You should have come to visit us,” a woman named Inga wrote on Telegram. “We have no windows, no doors, no hot water or heating.”
Putin’s trip to Mariupol was apparently intended as a rebuke to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which last week issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president on charges related to the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Now it will avoid trips to the 123 member states of the ICC, according to Kremlin sources reported to the Meduza portal.
Putin was scheduled to visit South Africa next August to attend a summit of the Brics together with Brazil, India and China. The trip is now in doubt after President Ramaphosa said the country was aware of its “legal obligation.”
The Kremlin denies the accusations against Putin and Moscow yesterday announced its own criminal charges against the ICC prosecutor and the judges responsible for issuing the warrant. Investigators claimed they were guilty of committing an “unlawful act knowingly.”