Vladimir Putin bribes Russians with £5 and free sausage to attend pro-war rally

Vladimir Putin bribed thousands of people to attend a pro-war speech with the promise of a free sausage and barely more than a fiver.

The dictator took to a stage set up at Moscow's half empty Luzhniki Stadium to celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day, a holiday observed on February 23 in Russia that commemorates the founding of the Red Army, as well as being a general celebration of the armed forces.

Last year, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine under the pretence of "peacekeeping" the day after the national celebration, which is also observed in Turkmenistan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

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This year, Putin told attendees as part of a five-minute speech: "We are proud of those who are fighting in Ukraine to defend the fatherland."

“I've just been hearing from the highest military command that at this very moment there is an ongoing fight on our historical lands, for our people. It is led by similarly brave fighters to the ones standing beside us here right now,” he said, flanked by Russian soldiers.

"Today, defending our interests, our people, our culture, language and territory, our entire nation is the defender of our Fatherland,” Putin said. “I bow to all of you.”

The 70-year-old then awkwardly led the crowd in chants of "Russia!" in the venue that hosted the World Cup final in 2018.

The Sun reported that thousands filed out of the stadium moments after the Kremlin chief's short speech.

Reports suggest that attendees were given the equivalent of £5.54 to attend, as well as Russian flags and the promise of a hot meal.

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Footage and pictures from the event show ramshackle stalls set up to dish out food into plastic containers.

Reports suggest that some people were strong-armed into attending, and one government department forced 70% of its employees to go, as per The Moscow Times.

"To be honest, I think it’s absurd," one employee explained. "We have to go and there’s nothing we can do with it.

"The authorities are using it as a propaganda tool to show off in the eyes of Z-patriots and those who watch TV. I wouldn’t go to the event voluntarily."

Uni students were also urged to go, with the tempting offer of being "freed up from classes for the whole day".

"Free food and gifts" and even university credits were also offered in exchange for attendance, The Sun reported.

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