An unedited video that has emerged on social media appears to show that fake cheers were added to footage from Vladimir Putin’s annexation celebration at the Kremlin.
The rally, which was broadcast on state TV Friday, was also attended by officials bussed in as “supporters” Friday to Moscow in order to bolster the size of the crowd, Newsweek reported.
Telegram channels and Twitter pages have since shared unedited videos from the rally, along with videos that were aired on state-run TV that night, which appear to show that cheers had been added to the recordings before they were aired.
One clip, in particular, shows famous Russian actor and director Ivan Okhlobystin delivering a deranged speech calling the invasion of Ukraine “a holy war.”
The version of this address that was said to have been shown on TV featured loud cheers from the crowd, while the unedited version shows Okhlabystin’s words being met with almost total silence.
A separate video that was tweeted by activist George Alburov shows a row of buses, which he claimed were used to deliver “state employees” to the rally.
“There were no people willing to celebrate the occupation of part of Ukraine for free and without coercion,” he wrote in the caption.
The Post could not independently verify the authenticity of either video.
BBC News has interviewed a large number of people in Moscow who claimed that they had been bussed to Putin’s rally from the suburbs. One woman told the outlet that she did not even know what the gathering was about.
The event was held to mark Russia’s annexation of four regions of Ukraine — Donetsk, Luhanks, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — following hastily-arranged referendums that have been denounced by Kyiv and its Western allies as forced and rigged.
During the event, Putin delivered an unhinged speech in which he proclaimed that the four provinces will become part of Russia “forever,” railed against the “satanic” West and hinted at the prospect of a nuclear war.
The formal portion of the event at St. George’s Hall — which culminated with Putin joining hands with the four Russia-installed administrators of the annexed regions and chanting “Russia! Russia!” — was followed by a concert and rally outside the Kremlin.
Just hours after the annexation rally, Ukrainian forces reclaimed the strategically important city of Lyman from the Russians in Donetsk, and they continued making territorial gains in Kherson on Monday.