Saturday 20 January 2018

Video: Vladimir Putin on trial in spoof Russian clip goes viral

A FAKE news report about Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin being put on trial has become an overnight YouTube sensation in Russia, getting over two million hits in just 48 hours.

The video, a collage of old video footage, shows Putin in a cage-like structure as he appears before court on theft and terrorism charges.

Putin is hoping to secure a third term when the Russian presidential election takes place on March 4.

The cleverly-edited one minute-long video appears on first glance to show a packed courtroom with Mr Putin standing in the cage-like enclosure for defendants.

He head is bowed as he faces trial on charges of theft and terrorism.

But in fact the footage is a neat collage of shots from the trial of Mr Putin's arch foe, toppled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, with the premier's face superimposed on Mr Khodorkovsky's much taller frame.

"The former prime minister was brought to the Khamovnichesky court about half-an-hour ago" says the voice-over, which is based on state television coverage of the second Khodorkovsky trial.

Mr Khodorkovsky was jailed for tax evasion and then convicted of fraud in a second trial in a Moscow court in late 2010. He is set to stay in jail until 2016.

Besides fraud, theft, and overstepping his powers, Mr Putin is also accused of being involved in "organising an act of terrorism" intended to frighten the population, the voice-over says.

The video clip uploaded to YouTube on Monday is apparently viral advertising for a 2002 documentary about Moscow's apartment bombings in 1999, called "The Assassination of Russia," which was put on the web this month.

The film was based on a book by Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian security officer who controversially accused the security services of orchestrating a series of deadly bombings in order to help Mr Putin secure his grip on power.

Litvinenko, who fled to London before making his allegations public, was poisoned by highly radioactive polonium and died in 2006. The investigation of his death is still ongoing.

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