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[News] The Russians hunting for cheap flats in occupied Mariupol


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It is one year since the Ukrainian city of Mariupol was largely destroyed by Russian forces and captured.

It is now being transformed and presented as a showcase for rule from Moscow - and some Russians are even hoping to buy homes there.

Russia claimed to have annexed Mariupol, along with all other occupied areas, following a series of referendums that have been widely condemned as sham exercises.

About 90% of the city's buildings were damaged or destroyed by Russian shelling during a gruelling two-month siege. Thousands of civilians were killed and about 350,000 people left, out of the pre-war population of 430,000, according to the UN.

Now, the occupation authorities seem intent on "Russifying" the city, changing Ukrainian-language road signs to Russian ones, introducing the Russian curriculum in schools and pushing the remaining residents to acquire Russian passports.

BBC Verify has used satellite footage to map how Russia is reshaping the fabric of the city.

It has also found that while new development is ongoing, extensive destruction remains - and it has heard from remaining pre-war residents who fear an uncertain future.

 

"I have found a property. Mariupol will be a beautiful city," Vladimir, a resident of the Arctic Russian city of Murmansk, told the BBC.

He, along with others the BBC spoke to, did not want his full name published.

He is among dozens of Russians who've been looking for property in the occupied city on VKontakte, Russia's most popular social network, in the past months.

Vladimir says he has already sold his flat in his home city and will soon move into his Mariupol home with the entire family.

Graphic shows an advert on the Russian social network VK looking to buy property in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Image caption,
Adverts looking for property in Mariupol like this one have been popping up on Russian social network VK
"The main thing is that it's on the sea," he told the BBC, adding that he is going for it now because prices are low.

Vladimir's remarks echo what millions of Russians have been hearing in Kremlin-controlled media over the past year.

There's been a steady stream of glowing reports on state TV portraying the reconstruction of Mariupol as proceeding at a "record-breaking" pace and life returning to normal.

"In the place of ruins, there are now new blocks of flats, nurseries, schools - everything's being restored with the most modern of technologies," says a report on state TV station Rossiya 1.

Satellite images analysed by the BBC indeed show multiple high-rise estates appearing in existing neighbourhoods across the city over the past year, mostly near the outskirts.

link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-66393949

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