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Spray-Painting For Putin: Fence Vanishes After Blogger Says Cop Shilled For President

Tatyana Ivanova's blog shows split image of a fence spray-painted with "Putin" and after the fence was removed.
Tatyana Ivanova's blog shows split image of a fence spray-painted with "Putin" and after the fence was removed.

A fence has disappeared in the north-central city of Syktyvkar.

Which is hardly any reason for alarm.

Except that this green paling, along a busy city street in the center of the capital of the Komi Republic, disappeared just one day after it played a starring role in a strange video that local blogger Tatyana Ivanova posted on her blog.

Ivanova shared before-and-after photos on her blog on February 27 that showed a plow neatly removing snow from where the 2-meter-high fence recently stood.

In the 28-second video, taken from across the street in poor lighting, a person in dark clothing stands next to the fence, on which the word "Putin" has been spray-painted.

A marked police van stands on the side of the road with its lights on. After a moment, the man by the fence gingerly picks his way through a snowdrift and walks over to the van. He appears to have something in his hand.

Ivanova writes that local residents found similar graffiti "on buildings and fences" around the city, all bearing the same word: Putin.

She also speculates that the "advertisements" might have appeared at the order of the local police or could have been painted by "a volunteer movement of individual police officers."

Incumbent Vladimir Putin is expected to win a fourth term as president in the country's heavily managed presidential election on March 18.

Ivanova quoted Komi Interior Ministry spokeswoman Vera Zhelestsova as saying the video showed a police investigative unit examining the graffiti. She added that a man had been detained during the night of February 26-27 and faces charges of writing the graffiti. She did not give any further details.

She also quoted an unnamed man speaking for the Peterhof residential project, where the fence had stood, who told her its removal had nothing to do with the video but was done because construction work had finished and the building was ready for occupancy.

Others on social media speculated that the purpose of the graffiti was to "create the impression of widespread popular support for the president."

Earlier this month, there were reports from several Russian cities, including Syktyvkar, that police had been ordered to guard Putin's campaign billboards after a spate of vandalism incidents targeting them.

In Tomsk, two billboards were spattered with red paint, while in Vladivostok, Serov, and Orenburg, Putin ads were pelted with eggs.

In late January, an unidentified man was filmed writing the word "liar" across Putin's image on a billboard.