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March 19, 2023 Russia-Ukraine information

A girl who survived final yr’s bombing of a packed theater in Mariupol likened Putin’s overnight visit to the Russian-occupied metropolis to “when a serial killer returns to the place of the crime.”

CNN’s Ivan Watson previously spoke to Maria Kutnyakova in March final yr, after she managed to flee Mariupol to Ukrainian-controlled territory together with her household.

Talking with Watson once more by telephone Sunday, Kutnyakova mentioned Putin had visited Mariupol at evening “as a result of they didn’t need to shoot the true footage of the destroyed metropolis.”

“They didn’t need to present that Mariupol remains to be a disaster. There are loads of destroyed buildings. That folks dwell in a nasty state of affairs,” mentioned Kutnyakova, who now works on-line for a Ukrainian NGO from the protection of Vilnius, Lithuania.

“Russian propaganda showed this image of some buildings that they constructed. They need to let folks imagine that in Mariupol now may be very good, lovely place. However it’s not,” Kutnyakova mentioned.

She instructed CNN costs in Mariupol are “loopy,” that individuals within the metropolis haven’t any drugs or heating, and that issues stick with communications, electrical energy, water and fuel.

Kutnyakova mentioned all 15 of her family members and a number of other shut mates who lived in Mariupol have left town. She mentioned her household has been unable to find her uncle since final spring, and so they worry he might have died.

Concerning the bombing: About 300 folks died when Russian forces bombed the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol, which had been functioning as a shelter for residents, based on metropolis leaders.

The March 16, 2022, bombing was among the many most brazen of Russia’s assaults on civilians in its preliminary offensive.

Earlier than the assault, the phrase “CHILDREN” had been painted on the bottom outdoors the constructing in big Russian letters. As many as 1,300 folks had been sheltering inside.

Russia denied its forces hit the theater, claiming a regiment in Ukraine’s military had blown it up. Moscow made similar claims — with out offering proof — in regards to the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol that occurred a couple of week prior.

The southeastern metropolis has been underneath Russian management since Could 2022.

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