A dissident Russian artist says an image of an anti-war sculpture containing the blood of Ukrainian fighters has been live-streamed in and around Moscow Red’s Square – even as Vladimir Putin oversaw the Victory Day parade in which he sought to defend his invasion.
Artist Andrei Molodkin created the sculpture, Putin Filled With Ukrainian Blood, using acrylic and the blood of eight Ukrainian men he knew, who had joined other volunteers fighting to defend their country.
Images of the artwork were live-streamed in cities across Ukraine, even as Russia continued its bombardment, as well as in countries such as Britain and Slovenia.
Molodkin told The Independent he had hatched a plan to make use of augmented reality (AR) technology, combined with the old-fashioned courage of his friends, to stream the anti-war image.
Now, the 56-year-old has said as many as 200,000 people within a one-mile radius of the Victory Day parade were able to view the artwork.
“As a Russian soldier I understand what is meant by propaganda, to give your blood for a criminal and criminal regime,” he said.
“The Russian government spent many years to prepare this war. My idea is that, as a contemporary artist, I have to deconstruct the image of Putin so that the 85 per cent of people who follow him see truth.”
The Independent was not able to independently confirm whether this claim was true. Yet, the artist did provide images, and video footage, that appeared to show the artwork streamed onto cell phones, as Russian tanks passed in the rear.
“Only people in a one-mile radius of Red Square could see the ’Putin Filled With Ukrainian Blood’ up until 10.00am London Time (12.00pm Moscow Time),” the artist said in a press statement.
“Then at 10.00am London time (12.00pm Moscow Time), the AT was opened up to all of Moscow.”
The Victory Day parade has traditionally been held to mark the Soviet Union’s costly win over the forces of Nazi Germany in 1945, an achievement that cost as many as 30 million Soviet lives.
This year, Mr Putin used the event to defend his invasion of Ukraine, now in its third month, and where his troops have been accused of committing war crimes, as they allegedly intentionally target civilians.
Mr Putin said his invasion – which he previously termed a “special military operation” – had been necessary to avert what he described as “a threat that was absolutely unacceptable to us [that] has been methodically created next to our borders”.
“The danger was rising by the day,” he said.
He added: “Russia has given a preemptive response to an aggression” in what he described as a “forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country.”
Molodkin, who spent two years as a conscript in the Soviet army transporting missiles through Siberia, had said he wanted to confront Mr Putin with some rare dissent.
Since the invasion, Russia has clamped down on any genuine protest, limited independent media, and stepped up disinformation campaigns that have resulted in 85 per cent of people supporting the war.
“I speak the same language that Putin speaks – blood and oil,” he said.
Putin says Nato posed ‘unacceptable threat’ in WWII parade speech
As it was, the artwork was among several acts of dissidence and defiance concerning the parade.
On Sunday, Russian television was hacked with a message condemning Mr Putin’s invasion.
The names of programmes on the schedule page were replaced to read: “The blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of their murdered children is on your hands.”
It added: “TV and the authorities are lying. No to war.”
Molodkin said he had to try to humiliate the Russian leader on “Lobnoye Mesto”, the stone platform situated on Red Square, closet to Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
“I had to do everything to destroy his image during this big celebration,” he said.
“I understand that we have different resources. Putin has millions for this parade. I had no resources – just my friends’ blood.”
Additional reporting Associated Press