'Russia has not had unity like this for long time' Putin tells ...
Independent

Vladimir Putin held a rally today in Moscow to drum up support for his invasion of Ukraine.

The rally, held at the Luzhniki World Cup stadium, was held to mark the eighth anniversary of Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and Moscow police said 200,000 people were in and around the stadium.

During the rally, people sang songs, listened to an (interrupted) speech by Putin and it seemed that some were not too pleased to be there...

Here's a run-down of what happened:

Signs

Putin appeared on stage with a sign behind him that said: “For a world without Nazism / For Russia”. Upon invading Ukraine, Putin claimed he was overseeing a "de-Nazification" of Ukraine despite the fact that the Ukrainian president Zelensky is Jewish..

Addressing those claims in February, Zelensky said: "The Ukraine on your news and Ukraine in real life are two completely different countries — and the main difference between them is: Ours is real. You are told we are Nazis. But could a people who lost more than 8 million lives in the battle against Nazism support Nazism?

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“How can I be a Nazi? Explain it to my grandfather, who went through the entire war in the infantry of the Soviet army, and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine.”

Nevertheless, Putin also brought up so-called Nazism in his speech as well.

The content of Putin's speech

The Daily Mail reports on what Putin said. He apparently said of the people of Russia and Crimea: "We are united by the same destiny.

"This is how the people thought and that's what they were guided by when they had the referendum in Sevastopol.

"They want to share their historical destiny with their motherland Russia - let us congratulate them on this occasion, it is their occasion. Congratulations.

"Sevastopol did the right thing when they put up a barrier to neo-Nazis and radicals, which is already happening on other territories,' he said.

"[The] people of Danobas also disagreed with this, and straightaway they organised military operations against them.'

'The best confirmation is how our guys are fighting during this operation, shoulder to shoulder, helping each other. When it is necessary, they cover each-other as if it was their own brother from bullets. We haven't had such unity in a long time,' he said

Speaking about his war in Ukraine, he repeated the false claim that it is a "special operation" and mentioned Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, an 18th century Russian naval commander who famously never lost a battle.

'It so happened that the start of the special operation coincided, quite by chance, with the birthday of one of our outstanding military leaders, the sainted Fyodor Ushakov, who throughout his brilliant military career never lost a battle."

"He once said: 'These thunderstorms will go to the glory of Russia'. So it was then. So it is today. And so it will always be."

Putin's speech cuts out

Halfway through a sentence, the livestream of Putin's speech cut out and images were put on screen instead. The Kremlin's press secretary said this was because of a server problem and the end of Putin's speech was played later.


The attendees

State employees were reportedly bussed in and told they would lose their jobs if they didn't attend the event.

But Kevin Rothrock, an editor at Meduza, an independent Russian and English-language news outlet, tweeted a video showing people leaving the stadium “before the event has even started”.

He wrote: "People in Moscow are leaving the pro-war rally at Luzhniki Stadium already. Before the event has even started. (They got their tickets punched, so they can split now.)"

As for those who stuck around, attendees sang patriots songs and chanted “Russia! Russia! Russia!”. People displayed the letter “Z”, which has become a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,as they watched a video with Ukrainian flags being thrown to the ground.


Performers

The event included well-known singer Oleg Gazmanov singing Made In The USSR, with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, It’s all my country.”

According to Max Seddon, a journalist at the Financial Times, some of the other artists sang anti-war songs, but no-one seemed to mind.


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