TSUKERMAN: Third Anniversary of the Russian Annexation of Crimea

<em>Moscow celebration of the third anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.</em> <em>The poster:</em> “Thank you, Putin, for Crimea!”

Moscow celebration of the third anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.
The poster: “Thank you, Putin, for Crimea!”

By Slava Tsukerman

Three years ago Crimea was annexed by Russia. Since then, March 18 is considered a holiday in Russia. In honor of this event, various festive concerts are held in different cities and especially in Moscow. For example, in 2015 a large-scale rally-concert “We Are Together” was held in Moscow near the Red Square. According to official figures about 110,000 people had gathered for the event. Russian President Vladimir Putin made a speach.

Here is the video of one of shows presented this weekend as a part of celebration in Crimea:

The children with the machine guns sing: “My country, my spring, my destiny, my dream, my love, my war!”

Considering the permanent assurances of the Russian propaganda that change of power in Crimea was a completely peaceful event, it seems odd why the celebration of the event has so obviously militaristic character.

Of cause by now facts are known to the world. The video of the taking Crimean Parliament by Russian solders was  recorded by Parliament’s close-circuit   cameras, so everyone can now see what occurred today on YouTube:

Russian state TV news show people in the streets of Crimean cities, who thank Putin and Russian army for saving them from “Ukrainian fascists”, who allegedly were moving from west Ukraine to Crimea in order to forbid Russian language and to panish all the simpathisers of Russia.

At the same time Russian media spreads fantasies about Crimea historicaly always being Russian land and even about existence of Crimean roots of the Russian Christianity.

Eighty-five percent of Russians consider annexation of Crimea Putin’s greatest achievement. The annexation tremendously raised Putin’s popularity.

Muscovites, celebrating this March 18, 2017.

Muscovites, celebrating this March 18, 2017.

Muscovites, celebrating this March 18, 2017.

It was announced this week that the day of presidential elections in Russia next year will be postponed for a week to March 18, so that it coincides with the day of the “reunification of Crimea and Russia”.

A correspondent of a popular newspaper MKRU asked Georgiy Muradov, permanent representative of President Putin in Crimea, to comment on this decision. Muradov said:

“Every election of the President of Russia is a historic event. Especially in the coming period, when Russia needs to stand and hold on. The reunion of Crimea with Russia is certainly a historic event, especially because historically Crimea is the spiritual source of Russia. And when two historical events merge, this is a good sign.

“The Crimean prologue marks the beginning of really profound transformations of both: Russia itself and Russia’s relations with the outside world, the moral renewal of our society. In such atmosphere of mutual helping, of working together on a great common cause, practical results always appear.”

Muradov describes today’s situation in Crimea:

“Speaking about the Crimeans themselves, they are sure of the correctness of their choice of joining Russia, and over time this confidence only grows stronger. I’ll explain why. The Federal Program for Social and Economic Development of the Crimea has entered an active phase. Real and considerable funds are allocated for the rehabilitation of roads, schools, hospitals, to building the bridge, which will firmly connect the Crimea with the continental part of Russia … They’ve got jobs. They are receiving salaries, and all this has a positive effect on their lives. As the data for the past year show, the republic’s budget has increased by 30%.

“Therefore, the inhabitants of historical Taurica are not disappointed in their choice. They are confident and look with optimism into their future.”

The weekend of March 18-March 19, Russian state TV news showed “happy” life in today’s Crimea. According to this coverage Crimean economics, which was stagnated under Ukrainian rule, now grows, the peninsula is overwhelmed by new constructions. All Crimeans are happy.

The press, even pro–governmental, is less enthusiastic. Here is what an old Crimean man, named Dmitry, said to a correspondent of newspaper MKRU:

“When Ukraine ruled, there was stagnation here, there was no future, we lived like in a swamp. Now it is not easy for us, the prices have become very high; pensions are added, but not enough. However, the most important thing is that there is now at least some hope that finally we are going to be taken care of; that money will be invested in Crimea and it will be developed. We have a lot of opportunities. We used to have resorts, sports, film industry. Now everything had come to desolation and the only thing is needed just to restore it.”

Some Russians would disagree with Dmitry, telling him, that Crimea prospered in Soviet time, when people couldn’t vacation abroad. Now dilapidated old Soviet resorts cannot compete with cheap and modern Turkish and Egyptian ones. Only the poorest Ukrainians, who live near Crimea, used the peninsula regularly as their vacation place. Now they stopped coming. Reconstruction of Crimea demands huge investments. Even the amount of money that Russia invests in Crimea now is a burden for Russian economy. Making Crimea profitable is a task close to impossible.

Democratic radio station Echo of Moscow asked its listeners what do they think about obtaining Crimea: was it “useful” or “harmful” for Russia. Eighty-six percent of listeners found it harmful.

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Updated: March 21, 2017 — 12:35 pm
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