Inside Vladimir Putin’s Mariupol ‘Crime Scene’ Propaganda Tour
A day after being indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defiant midnight propaganda tour of Mariupol drew scathing criticism from Ukraine’s leaders, who noted that “a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime”.
The icing on the cake from Russian state media sparked a positive reaction to the 70-year-old dictator’s visit to the decimated port city, showing Putin having fun with relocated residents on his first trip to the frontline of the unprovoked invasion of his country that lasted 13 months.
Critics have accused Putin of visiting Mariupol under cover of darkness to avoid facing the full extent of obliteration in the fully occupied eastern city, where around 90% of its buildings were destroyed in the first few months. of the war. Ukraine estimates that 20,000 residents were killed and 70% of the city’s population was forced to flee amid Russia’s violent land grab.
“The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime,” said aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak. writing on Twitter.
His sentiments were echoed by the exiled mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko.
“He came in person to see what he did,” Boychenko told the BBC. “He came to see what he will be punished for.”
On the ground, a much rosier picture was painted by Kremlin propaganda, as Putin was seen driving around the city while being briefed on reconstruction efforts by Russian officials.
“Do you live here? Do you love?” Putin was filmed asking people.
“A lot. It’s a little piece of paradise we have here now,” replied one woman, clasping her hands and thanking Putin for “the victory.”
“We need to start getting to know each other better,” Putin told a group of stunned residents, according to CNN.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin accompanied Putin on his spontaneous tour of the bombed-out former European industrial hub.
“The city center was badly damaged,” Khusnullin said. “We want to finish (rebuild) the center by the end of the year, at least the facade part. The center is very beautiful. »
The duo also talked about plans to build a new hospital to replace the bombed out children’s and maternity ward while patients and workers were inside.
“There will be an ambulance, and all the most modern labs will be there,” Khusnullin said, according to the report.
“Everything will be fine,” Putin replies.
Putin’s provocative visit came as his staff said the arrest warrant issued by the ICC for allegedly abducting and deporting children and other Ukrainians to Russia was “null and void” and “outrageous and unacceptable”.
The May bombing of a theater in Mariupol that housed host families, killing hundreds, also amounted to a war crime, human rights groups said.
Putin was liable to arrest if he set foot in any of the 123 countries that have signed The Hauge’s court statute.
The strongman traveled to Mariupol in the illegally annexed Donetsk region by helicopter after visiting Crimea on the ninth anniversary of its occupation by Russia, according to state media.
With post wires