Bonnie and Clyde Shown Among Photos of Russian WW2 Veterans on Victory Day

On Victory Day, Russia's Channel One aired the traditional concert that closes annual celebrations of the anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. But the otherwise somber ceremony was interrupted by the bizarre appearance on stage of the most famous criminal couple in American history.

In the background of the stage filled with costume-wearing actors holding red Soviet flags, old black and white pictures of smiling Russian couples flipped through a screen, adding nostalgia and gravity to the sentimental voice of the singer on stage.

Until all of a sudden, perfectly hidden between the series of images from the past, a photo of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow appears on the screen.

In clips from the concert, nobody can be seen reacting, either on stage or among the audience, to the bizarre appearance of the most famous crime couple in American history.

But the apparent mistake has been spotted by many outside Russia, and videos of the awkward scene from the concert have been widely circulated online. The incident has been reported by Ukraine Today and other Ukrainian media, while Russian media have not talked about it.

Reddit and Twitter users have been trying to guess whether the appearance of Bonnie and Clyde at such a symbolic event for the Kremlin was a shockingly inappropriate mistake or a silent protest, an act of defiance and mockery by a dissenter from President Vladimir Putin's regime.

Newsweek has contacted Channel One for comment on how the mistake happened.

Bonnie and Clyde
Portrait of American bank robbers and lovers Clyde Barrow (1909 - 1934) and Bonnie Parker (1910 -1934), popularly known as Bonnie and Clyde, circa 1933. This picture of the couple was shown among WW2 veterans on Russia's Channel One during Victory Day celebrations. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Obviously, Bonnie and Clyde never took part in the fight against the Nazis, and they never crossed the border into Russia. They died before World War II even began.

The couple became the most famous crime couple during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and were thought responsible for robbing several banks and killing at least 13 people, including nine police officers and four civilians.

They were ambushed by police in May 1934 in Louisiana, and famously shot to death by police officers after a spectacular manhunt.

The picture of Bonnie and Clyde shown at the concert was taken in March 1933, only a year and two months before the couple died.

The concert was aired on state-controlled Channel One, the first TV channel to run in the Russian federation in 1995.

The channel is under U.S. sanctions, together with Russia-1 TV and NTV—which means it's completely cut off from receiving American money for advertising. The U.S. government said it put the channels on the list for being "owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the [Russian government]."

The channel is considered a stronghold of Putin's propaganda, but it has shown itself vulnerable to anti-war protests.

It was on Channel One that editor Marina Ovsyannikova staged her protest in March, appearing behind the host of a news programme with an anti-war message hand-written on paper. "Stop the war! No to the war!" she shouted, before the channel switched to another segment.

She was then detained and fined by a Russian court, but she's since been hired as a freelancer by a German media outlet.

Ovsyannikova told Voice of America that many of her colleagues quit after her protest. It might be that the Bonnie and Clyde mistake was simply the error of less experienced staff who've taken the place of those who have left the channel in protest.

The concert broadcast on Channel One closed the celebrations for Victory Day after the military parade in Moscow's Red Square and Putin's speech. The Russian president dashed Western expectations that he would announce an escalation of the war on May 9, and instead proved to be cautious of demanding more of the Russian people.

Putin said the war in Ukraine will continue to fight off "murderers and Nazis."