In an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Alexander Sapozhnikov, the former mayor of Chita who left to fight in the war, claimed that he "felt" Vladimir Putin praying for him. Part of the video interview was published by the Ne-Shutki Telegram channel on March 9.
According to Alexander Sapozhnikov, the former mayor of Chita who left for the war, Vladimir Putin may pray for soldiers in the prayer room located in the Kremlin. Sapozhnikov stated that in his three months with the troops, he had not seen any Ukrainians and was not afraid of Leopard tanks. He also claimed that Leopards get bogged down in the mud, unlike Russian military vehicles. The interview ended with the journalist hugging Sapozhnikov.
However, the full video of the conversation was removed from Komsomolskaya Pravda's YouTube channel, as noted by Chita.ru.
Sapozhnikov had served as mayor of Chita since 2019 but resigned to join the war in Ukraine in November 2022. He stated that "as a paratrooper with combat experience", he could not stay away.
Many government officials in various regions expressed a desire to fight but did not go to Ukraine. For instance, Mikhail Degtyarev, the governor of Khabarovsk Krai, complained that was unable to join the troops due to "restrictions" in his position. A petition with 61,000 signatures demanded to help Degtyarev to go to the war.