Putin makes surprise visit to occupied city devastated by Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprise visit to the occupied city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine has been met bitterly by Ukrainian officials, who liken the trip to a criminal returning to the scene of the crime.

CNN asked several Kyiv residents for their thoughts on the visit Sunday.

Roman Koval, 25, a surgery intern:

Roman Koval
Roman Koval (CNN)

“I think he is afraid to come to Ukrainian territory. He can’t do it like our people. He can’t do things like our President Zelensky. He has no support,” Koval said.

“It only makes us angry. My reaction is as negative as possible,” he continued. “I think it’s just PR. PR to show that they stand in some kind of position, but in fact, they are nobody, and they are weak. We will win. Victory will definitely be ours.”

Koval expressed skepticism that Putin had made the visit at all, saying he believes it was just propaganda.

Here’s what we know: The Kremlin released a video Sunday depicting Putin’s tour of the territory under the cover of darkness. Moscow described parts of the trip as “spontaneous.” It is not clear exactly when the visit took place, but Putin was also in annexed Crimea on Saturday.

Olha Kramchaninova, 48, a small business owner:

Olha Kramchaninova
Olha Kramchaninova (CNN)

“It would be better if our army bombed the place where Putin was,” Kramchaninova said.

He likened it to watching a thief with his property after something was stolen from him.

“Putin comes there to make everyone think that this land is his,” Kramchaninova said. “And I don’t understand how he came to Mariupol at all. To walk on the blood and bones of the people he killed there? I think that he should have died as soon as he set foot in Mariupol.”

Yefrosiniia, 72, retired:

Yefrosiniia (CNN)
Yefrosiniia (CNN)

“I have only one wish — that Putin dies as soon as possible,” said the retiree, who asked only to be called by the family name Yefrosiniia.

“His visit is just ridiculous. It’s some kind of pathetic attempt. It’s a circus,” she continued.

Yefrosiniia repeated a sentiment expressed by other Ukrainians Sunday: that reports of Putin’s trip were propaganda, and that he may not have actually visited the city.