When the residents of Tver, a town 100 miles north of Moscow, woke up this morning, they were met with a worrying sight: columns of military vehicles flying the Ukrainian flag driving through the city.
Their first thought was that they had been invaded.
“I have to say that this is surreal,” said one driver who posted footage online. He added that he was nervous and didn’t know what was going on.
But the truth was more banal. A Russian crew was filming the entire thing for an upcoming movie about the Ukraine war.
“Musician” is set to be the first film about the conflict, which began when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
The mix-up was quickly picked up on social media.
“Military equipment flying Ukrainian flags scared the inhabitants of Tver,” one opposition Russian news service said on its Telegram channel. “It turned out that the filming of the movie ‘Musician’ is taking place in the city. The action and the plot are set in Ukraine today.”
It is not clear if the film is linked to the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, whose mercenaries refer to themselves as “musicians”.
Although their existence was previously denied by Moscow, since the start of the war the Wagner Group has gone mainstream and now recruits openly across Russia with glossy adverts and slickly produced videos. It even has its own headquarters in a glass skyscraper in St Petersburg.
Actors causing confusion
This was not the first time that Russian actors have caused confusion by pretending to be part of the Ukrainian military.
In the town of Kaluga, 120 miles south of Moscow, a group of men dressed in Ukrainian army fatigues pretended to take over a theatre earlier this month.
They took one man hostage and appeared to rough him up on stage. He was then marched backstage where he was supposedly shot in a mock execution.
The act was all part of an “immersive” drama performance designed to shock residents, the producers later said.
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