Watch: Putin heckled during Mariupol visit
Vladimir Putin was heckled by a Mariupol resident during his visit to the destroyed city on Sunday.
In television footage showing the Russian president meeting supposedly grateful Ukrainians, a woman’s voice can be heard shouting: “It’s all lies, it’s all just for show.”
The heckling, which seemed to have come from a nearby building, prompted Putin’s security team to begin frantically looking around trying to identify the source.
The Russian president’s official visits are almost always carefully stage-managed, and this was particularly true of his trip to Mariupol, a city razed to the ground by Russia’s forces during a months-long siege.
The Russian leader flew into the city on an army helicopter and drove himself to meet residents of a reconstructed apartment block.
Putin heckled during his visit to Mariupol pic.twitter.com/r5equ9FWBk
— Arthur Scott-Geddes (@ascottgeddes) March 20, 2023
One resident sobbed as she told Putin she now “owned a piece of paradise” after the leader asked if she liked her new apartment.
“Wow, we have only ever seen you on television,” said one man after shaking his hand.
Putin’s bodyguards, wearing microphones, hovered around him at all times during the visit, occasionally whispering into the ear of a resident or guiding them on where to stand.
“We’ll have to get to know each other better,” the Russian president told the beaming residents.
Online observers suggested that Putin could have used a body double for the trip, pointing to a picture of the president with a particularly flabby cheek.
“What’s up with Putin’s chin” 😂#VladamirPutin mocked by Ukraine Monday for allegedly sending a lookalike to Mariupol in a high security visit.
Kyiv official Anton Gerashchenko posted three images of Putin's chin and questioned whether they belonged to the same man. pic.twitter.com/oi9a0ZrHmM
— Mr Pål Christiansen 🇳🇴😍🇬🇧 (@TheNorskaPaul) March 20, 2023
Ukraine's military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, has said that the Russian president uses three body doubles, without providing evidence.
"They have plastic surgery to look more like the Kremlin head," Mr Budanov said.
His trip to Mariupol was his first to territory captured since the invasion began last year. It came after the International Criminal Court in the Hague issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes.