On the 23rd day of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, a pro-Kremlin rally to mark the eighth anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea takes place on Friday at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
The stadium, which hosted the 2018 World Cup final, is full of people celebrating at the behest of the Russian authorities the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian federation. Reports indicate that there are over 130,000 people in the stadium.
Several foreign reporters still in Moscow write on twitter that many of the participants are state employees who were taken from work and transported by bus. Others were taken directly from the street and forcibly brought to the event.
At the stadium, people are watching a video with burning Ukrainian flags. The presenters of the event wear jackets with the letter Z inscribed on their chests, a symbol of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some of the protesters came to the stadium with pictures of Vladimir Putin’s face on them.
The Guardian reporters write that students and state employees were forced to attend and were told they would be paid extra or given a day off to join the rally at the 80,000-seat stadium. In fact, reports on social media show that the vast majority of the crowd that gathered at Luzhniki Stadium is paid. Some received between 300 and 1,400 rubles.
Editor: Marco Badea