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Russian TV cuts away from Putin rally in World Cup stadium as he rambles about 'genocide'
18 March 2022, 15:25 | Updated: 18 March 2022, 17:03
Vladimir Putin has delivered another rambling speech about his war in Ukraine but was plagued with a bizarre TV cut-away during his broadcast.
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The Russian president again used false claims of "genocide" as he hailed the "special operation" in Ukraine – the phrase used by the Kremlin when referring to the invasion.
Putin was flanked by thousands who packed into Moscow's 80,000 seater Luzhniki stadium, who waved Russian flags and held "Z" memorabilia, using the symbol branded on their military's tanks and vehicles.
The event was to celebrate Russia's takeover of Crimea - a claim that is not recognised by most countries.
In his chilling speech, Putin said he wanted to "save people from suffering and genocide" and insisted Russia would "implement all our plans".
However, reports suggested that some Russians were going just to stamp their ticket and then leaving, amid suggestions some firms had pressured employees into going while some spectators were bussed in.
But social media users mocked the broadcast after it suddenly cut away from Putin's speech, instead playing patriotic songs at the rally.
Transmission of Putin’s speech suddenly cuts. Funny business with Russian TV. Kremlin can’t help itself. pic.twitter.com/VrT9SMOonO— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) March 18, 2022
The Kremlin later blamed a technical glitch while the editor of independent news outlet Meduza, Kevin Rothrock, said such an incident could happen when TV staff quit. Previously, an editor held an on-air protest over the war during a news broadcast.
Putin told the crowd that Russia and Crimea, the region of Ukraine that Moscow seized in 2014, had the "same destiny".
"Sevastopol did the right thing when they put up a barrier to neo-Nazis and radicals, which is already happening on other territories," Putin went on, referring to the historic city in the Crimean peninsula.
He said people in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine "also disagreed with this, and straightaway they organised military operations against them", a reference to the rebels who have been embroiled in a civil war against Kyiv.
Singers at the rally played songs about the USSR - which included Ukraine in a Russian-dominated union.
Putin's speeches on Ukraine, where his invasion has killed thousands of Ukrainians and his own troops, have been savaged by critics as ahistorical and propaganda.
This week he put out a speech in which he talked about "traitors".
"But any people, and even more so the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors, and simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths, spit them out on the pavement," he said in the rant.
Updates to follow