Putin’s latest public appearance since the June apparent armed rebellion by Wagner Group mercenaries was captured on film and released by the Kremlin.
On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin invited an eight-year-old girl to the Kremlin, where the two of them made an unusual phone call to the Russian government’s finance minister to request funding for the child’s home area.
After first seeming perplexed by the phone call and failing to reply to the girl’s “hello,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov immediately agreed to the additional cash for her district.
The chat and a similar call Putin made with Raisat to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday made Putin laugh out loud.
Putin said to Raisat that he was ‘upset’ to see a photo of her crying because she hadn’t been able to meet with him during his visit to Dagestan, so he had invited her and her parents to Moscow.
Putin went to Dagestan last week, and in a rare move, he mixed with the locals and greeted everyone he saw.
Days after the short mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group caused him to portend the possibility of civil war, the Kremlin pointed to that as proof of the president’s immense popularity amongst the Russian people.
The President was seen in the footage basking in the adulation of the Derbent throng.
Yet, videos from last year’s rallies against conscription in Dagestan circulated online and presented a different picture.
The city of one of Russia’s poorest areas, Makhachkala, had a big anti-war demonstration in September, with some residents holding banners and shouting “no to war” while riot police fired warning shots into the air to scare them away.
Late last year, there was a week of violence during which over 2,000 anti-war protesters were detained.
In October of last year, a group of Russian investigative journalists discovered that the poorest districts of Russia were recruiting the biggest numbers of soldiers to be dispatched to Ukraine.
It was estimated at the end of last year that 2.6% of Dagestan’s reservists had been recruited during the initial push to increase numbers.