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Wanted war criminal spotted returning to crime scene: Putin in Mariupol

Following the Saturday trip to Crimea, to mark the ninth anniversary of the illegal annexation of the southern Ukrainian peninsula, Russian dictator and wanted war criminal Vladimir Putin, went on to Mariupol, a city reduced to a sea of rubble by his invasion forces last year.

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This was the first time since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, that the Kremlin ruler dared to turn up in the territories of Ukraine his forces occupied, and held onto, since February 24 last year.

New York Times called the dictator’s power move “defiant and highly symbolic” in the light of it coming just two days after an International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for the kidnapping of Ukrainian children, that are being deported to Russia and placed up for adoption with the purpose of Russifying them, which amounts to ethnic cleansing, and therefore the crime of genocide.

Putin’s visit to Mariupol proves that there is truth in the old saying that a murderer always returns to the crime scene.

The once-thriving port city on the Sea of Azov was once home to more than 400,000 thousand residents. Hundreds of thousands of them fled, and according to estimates by the legal municipal authorities at least 22,000 were killed during the protracted siege that culminated in the lengthy defense of the Azovstal steel plant stronghold.

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Meanwhile, the Russians have been trying to cover up their war crimes, razing to the ruins theater in Mariupol which was deliberately targeted even in spite of the fact that it was clearly marked as a refuge for civilians, including children and the elderly. The occupiers collapsed the remains of the structure on top of the remains of their victims without any attempt to recover the dead. A recurring practice by the occupiers.

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Some, however, doubt that the famously paranoid and reclusive dictator had the courage to personally appear in Crimea and then in the other occupied territories. Speculations abound that he sent one of his body doubles instead, fuelled by a video released by Russian state media that shows Putin personally driving a car through the ruined city at night.

This is reportedly Putin in occupied Mariupol. Driving a car himself while the traffic was not blocked? No wonder everyone has doubts that this really happened.

— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) March 19, 2023

The visit made by their conquering despot did not sit well with the remaining residents of the mutilated city.

The dictator (or his body double) also met with the inhabitants of the Nevsky residential district, the only part of Mariupol that has been reconstructed since the city was seized and which Russian media use as a propaganda showpiece of Russia’s benefaction.

According to the independent Russian Telegram channel “Mozhem Obyasnit”, the people of Mariupol call the Nevsky district “a tiny piece of Paradise” among ruins.

Perhaps a more apt name for the project would be “Potemkin Village”.

Predictably, the people of Mariupol who have to reside among the ruins of their home city were furious.

“It’s a shame [Putin] did not come to our house in the Livoberezhnyi district [an area that saw heavy destruction during the siege]. No windows, no doors, no hot water or heating. Then he could talk to ‘local inhabitants’,” fumed one female Mariupol resident in a comment made on social media.

“No one shows him the pits left after the foundations of torn-down houses,” another woman seconded her.

“Nobody needs us. All of this is done solely to record nice images to show on television. To have people in Russia look at that,” wrote another resident quoted by “Mozhem Obyasnit”.

The catastrophic humanitarian situation in the city persists. Locals lack access to food, water, medicine, heat, hygienic products, and communications, among other basic necessities.

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