putin arrested

Videos circulating on YouTube show the Russian prime minister on trial. They’re fakes—but they’re promoting a real documentary.

Was Prime Minister Putin arrested on February 13?

No. But a YouTube video purportedly showing the Russian leader behind bars has Russians in a tizzy.

The thought of Putin’s arrest also captures the growing spirit of protest in Russia, as Animal New York notes, including the recent arrest of female punk band Pussy Riot for performing anti-Putin songs.

The 50-second video, whose title Google Translate gives as “The arrest of Vladimir Putin: a report from the courtroom,”  now copied and reuploaded by dozens of YouTubers, has been viewed more than one million times in 24 hours. It shows Putin in a courtroom cage, surrounded by guards and reporters.

But Google News shows nothing about a Putin arrest, and he made public appearances Tuesday. So the video’s pretty obviously a fake.

Snooping around the original YouTube channel to which the video was posted reveals it was a promotional stunt for the anti-Putin documentary “Blowing Up Russia.”

The DVD cover of the film is prominently displayed at the 35–37-second mark in the video.

According to the film’s site, the film will debut in Russia on February 25.

The film is based off a 2003 book of the same title, written by former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky.  Litvinenko was mysteriously poisoned in 2006 with the radioactive chemical polonium-20.

According to the film’s site, both the politician Sergei Yushenkov and investigative journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin tried to show the movie in Russia in 2003, but both died within months of each other that year. Yushenkov was shot immediately after registering his political party, while Shchekochikhin was poisoned in the same way as Litvinenko.

A copy of the movie narrated in English is available on the film distributor’s YouTube channel.  

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