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Putin was told Mariupol was a 'paradise' during his night-time visit. Daylight photos show how it really looks.

A composite image shows Vladimir Putin (top left) visiting the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol when it was dark. The main image shows a damaged building seen clearly in daylight a few days earlier.
A composite image shows Vladimir Putin (top left) visiting the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol when it was dark. The main image shows a damaged building seen clearly in daylight a few days earlier.Getty Images/Russian Pool/Insider
  • Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol over the weekend.

  • He tried to portray the visit as a triumph for Russia's efforts to rebuild the city it destroyed.

  • Yet pictures show buildings on Putin's route through the city still devastated by Russia's bombardment.

On Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the occupied city of Mariupol, which Russian troops devastated in a months-long attack.

He saw a children's playground, a renovated theater, and new housing. Locals described it to him as a "little piece of paradise."

Notably, the trip took place after dark. Footage of Putin driving around showed nothing further than a few feet away. But daylight tells a different story.

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Putin's route took him through the center of Mariupol — in the dark it looked like an ordinary city.

Putin Mariupol
Russia's Vladimir Putin (L) driving with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin as he visits the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on March 18, 2023.POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The BBC reconstructed part of his route, taking him down one of Mariupol's main streets.

A map showing a route taken by Vladimir Putin through Mariupol
A map, based on BBC reporting, showing part of a route taken by Vladimir Putin through Mariupol in March 2023.Insider/Google Maps

According to a BBC analysis, Putin's took the route depicted above — south, then east, the south again from the outskirts of the city to its Philharmonic Concert Hall.

The route passed several sites synonymous with the brutality of Russia's attack on the city.

At one stop, Putin met a group outside a new development, who thank him for Russia creating "a little piece of paradise" in the city.

Putin
Putin meets a group of people in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 18, 2023.POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Russian TV footage shows Putin being shown around a new apartment complex, believed to in the Nevsky District in the west of the city.

Eve then there is the suggestion that something is amiss — a voice in the background shouting.

Though it is indistinct, some reports suggested that the voice yelled "it's all lies! It's all for show!"

 

 

 

He was also shown round an apartment.

Putin Mariupol
Putin inside an apartment block in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 18, 2023.Sputnik

And pictured in a new-looking children's playground.

Putin Mariupol
Putin with Khusnullin in a playground in Mariupol on March 18, 2023.POOL/AFP via Getty Images

None of the footage showed the wider city, shrouded in darkness. But press photos like this one, taken two days before Putin's visit, show extensive damage.

A heavily damaged building in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.
A heavily damaged building in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.Getty Images

Tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the attack, the city's former mayor has said. 

The UN believes that 350,000 people fled the city, of a pre-war population of around half a million.

 

Insider pinpointed this ruined business — a home-renovation store called Mariupol Windows — to within a few hundred feet of Putin's route.

Mariupol
The story Oknavmariupole — Mariupol Windows — in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In the daylight it would be hard to miss scenes like that.

A map showing a route through Mariupol, Ukraine, with a ruined store front.
A map showing Putin's route and the location of a destroyed store.Insider/Google Maps/Getty Images

Further photos taken the same day in Mariupol show similar heavy damage.

Mariupol
People outside damaged apartment blocks in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Mariupol
Damaged buildings being demolished by heavy duty machinery in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A heavily damaged building in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.
A heavily damaged building in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 16, 2023.Getty Images

There are signs Russia is reshaping the city — this satellite image shows the main theater in Mariupol, surrounded by boarding.

Mariupol theatre
An image by satellite technology company Maxar in December 2022 shows the Mariupol theatre under construction.Maxar

Putin came close to, but did appear to see, Mariupol's famed theatre.

The theater was the notorious site of a Russian bombing earlier in the war — in which some 600 people are estimated to have died.

Mariupol theatre
An aerial view of a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 10, 2022.REUTERS/Pavel Klimov

The attack took place even though the Russian word for "children" had been marked out in huge letters, in the hope that it might be spared.

An extensive investigation by the Associated Press estimated the death toll of the attack at 600, more than twice previous estimates.

He would've driven close to the maternity hospital bombed by Russia last year

pregnant woman mariupol
An injured pregnant woman is carried from the maternity hospital in Mariupol on March 9, 2022.AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Russian forces in March last year are accused of bombing Mariupol's Maternity Hospital Number Three.

Pictures of Ukrainian woman Marianna Vyshemirskaya, bloodied and injured by the attack, went viral. She gave birth the day after the attack.

She soon became the center of a propaganda war about the attack, with Russia pushing conspiracy theories the hospital had been bombed as part of a "false flag" operation.

 

Satellite imagery from December also showed construction around that site.

Mariupol hospital
A satellite image from December 2022 shows construction work at a bombed hospital in the Ukrainian city of MariupolMaxar

Putin's trip didn't feature either location — instead focusing on a second restored theater, its philharmonic concert hall. Giving his opinion on the new setting, Putin concluded it was "comfortable, beautiful."

Mariupol Philharmonic theatre
Putin testing the seats in the renovated Philharmonic Concert Hall in Mariupol, occupied Ukraine, on March 18, 2023.POOL/AFP via Getty Images

According to reports, Russia had been planning at one stage to use the theater to stage trials for captured Ukrainian fighters, which became unnecessary when they were released in a prisoner swap.

Read the original article on Business Insider