The Kremlin website removed screenshots from a video clip that reviewed part of the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the city of Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow forces, according to the newspaper “.The Times” British.
The Kremlin said, on Sunday, that Putin decided, at the last minute, to go to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol after his visit, last Saturday, to the Crimea peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014, stressing the “spontaneous” nature of his trip.
“All of this was spontaneous,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, regarding the Russian president’s first visit to the city, stressing that “his movements in the city were not planned either.”
Putin chose to visit the city at night, as he toured a neighborhood, while local media broadcast video footage showing the Russian president driving a car through a newly built area, and also showing him walking inside what media said was a restored orchestra house.
Russian media reported that Putin also met the top leadership of his military operation in Ukraine, including Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
In the deleted clip, Putin was talking to some residents, as one of them told him that “the city was a small piece of paradise,” stressing that the people were praying for him.
After those words, another woman’s voice is heard in the deleted clip saying: “This is not true… everything is for show.”
According to the “Times” newspaper, the Kremlin has deleted the old clip, and replaced it with a new video that does not show any criticism.
After Putin’s visit, local residents said most were still living in houses destroyed by Russian bombs.
“He should have come to visit us… We have no windows, no doors, no hot water, no heating,” a woman named Inga wrote on Telegram.
On Sunday, the city council of Mariupol, in exile, denounced Putin’s visit to the port city, which Moscow’s forces seized last year after a months-long siege.
The city council said, on its Telegram account, that “the international criminal Putin visited occupied Mariupol. He watched (the rebuilding of the city) at night. Perhaps so as not to see the city that was destroyed during its (liberation) in broad daylight.”
Mariupol is located in Donetsk, one of the four regions that Putin announced unilaterally annexing to his country last September, and Kiev and its Western allies condemned the move, describing it as illegal.
Donetsk, along with Luhansk, constitutes the majority of the industrial part of Donbass in Ukraine.