A Ukrainian child in the destroyed and occupied city of Mariupol was forced to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin during an awkward ceremony for the opening of a new school.
Despite levelling most of the city early on into his country's invasion of Ukraine, Putin has ordered certain parts to be rebuilt.
And one of the first parts to be finished was a school in the area.
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The official opening ceremony was held yesterday (September 1), with Putin watching live via a video link back in Russia.
And bizarrely, a small child thought to be aged around six or seven was brought forward by one of Putin's appointed leader of the Donbas region Denis Pushilin to say thank you.
A video clip shows the child awkwardly thanking Putin by reading a pre-prepared script behind held off camera.
He said, in a what we've managed to translate: “Dear President Putin.
“My name is Simka, and I want to thank you very much for taking care of my favourite city of Mariupol.”
The child then seemingly forgets – or refuses – to carry on, prompting Pushilin to speak to him.
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After telling him “don't worry” the camera shows Putin looking awkwardly while playing with a pen on his desk.
It has not been disclosed exactly where in the city the school is located, or what other projects Putin has demanded take place in the occupied place.
Russia claims that around 300,000 people are still living in Mariupol, which is around 150,000 less than in 2017.
At the end of 2022, Russia had started stripping the city of anything resembling Ukraine.
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Many of the city’s Ukrainian street names were turned into Soviet ones, with the Avenue of Peace that cuts through Mariupol being called Lenin Avenue.
Even the large sign that announces the name of the city at its entrance had been Russified within days of the occupation occurring, as it was repainted with the red, white and blue of the Russian flag and the Russian spelling replacing what was there.
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