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As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday addressed an annual business summit of world leaders gathered in South Africa. But this time, the Russian leader delivered his remarks with an altered voice.
Putin appeared via a prerecorded video at a meeting for a grouping of the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) in Johannesburg, where he discussed the affairs of the business council in an altered, deep voice.
The voice, much lower than Putin’s regular pitch, appears to be a type of generated AI voice changer, but it’s unclear why his voice was changed and how exactly it was altered.
Putin, who appears to be speaking from his office at the Kremlin in Moscow in the video, did not travel to Johannesburg for the summit because he would have risked an arrest.
The Russian leader is facing a global arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the kidnapping of Ukrainian children. South Africa is a part of the ICC and would have been obliged to arrest him.
The 32-second clip with Putin’s distorted voice is from a larger roughly 15-minute video address that was played for the BRICS audience on Tuesday. The short clip appears to be from the beginning of the video.
The recorded video message on the Kremlin’s website retains Putin’s normal voice, but the Russian leader coughs several times in the beginning.
Putin appeared via video link on Wednesday with his regular voice, according to a clip shared by Russian state-run media outlet TASS.
In his Tuesday remarks, Putin discussed Russia’s willingness to return to the Black Sea grain deal with Ukraine if certain conditions are met, a line Moscow has repeated.
The deal, which Russia dropped out of last month, had allowed Ukraine to transport important grain products out of the Black Sea without interference from Russian forces.
Putin has used the major summit in South Africa to accuse the West of starting the war in Ukraine and to shore up support with allies at a time when Russia is increasingly isolated on the international stage. On Wednesday, world leaders agreed to expand the alliance.
The BRICS summit began Tuesday and ends Thursday.