London: A spoof video that appears to show Vladimir Putin going on trial on charges of theft and terrorism became an Internet hit in Russia on Wednesday, with two million views ahead of presidential polls.
The minute-long video clip uploaded to YouTube on Monday seems on first glance to show a packed courtroom with Putin standing in the cage-like enclosure for defendants, with his head bowed, facing the charges.
But in fact the footage is a neat collage of shots from the trial of Putin’s arch foe, toppled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, with the Premier’s face superimposed on Khodorkovsky’s much taller frame, the Telegraph reported.
The video – which has garnered almost 2 million views – has gone viral just over two weeks ahead of March 04 Presidential Elections where Putin is seeking a historic third Kremlin term in the face of protests.
“The former prime minister was brought to the Khamovnichesky court about half-an-hour ago” says the voice-over, which is based on state television coverage of the second Khodorkovsky trial.
Khodorkovsky was jailed for tax evasion and then convicted of fraud in a second trial in a Moscow court in late 2010. He is set to stay in jail until 2016.
Besides fraud, theft, and overstepping his powers, Putin is also accused of being involved in “organising an act of terrorism” intended to frighten the population, the voice-over says.
The video clip is apparently viral advertising for a 2002 documentary about Moscow’s apartment bombings in 1999, called “The Assassination of Russia,” which was put on the web this month.
The film was based on a book by Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian security officer who controversially accused the security services of orchestrating a series of deadly bombings in order to help Putin secure his grip on power.
Litvinenko, who fled to London before making his allegations public, was poisoned by highly radioactive polonium and died in 2006. The investigation of his death is still ongoing.