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Russians celebrate first anniversary of Crimea annexation

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 02:02

Crimea marks one year since its annexation by Russia, as a massive crowd celebrates the anniversary in Moscow's Red Square with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mana Rabiee reports.

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In the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, a march of celebration ... marking one year since Russia annexed Ukraine's peninsula. Many residents are unabashedly happy that Crimea returned to Russia's fold... 60 years after the Soviet Union gifted the territory to then Soviet Ukraine. The peninsula is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, commanded by Alexander Vitko: (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, ALEXANDER VITKO, SAYING: "What does the return of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russian mean? I think it is one of the most important events of the 21st century. And it will certainly remain one of the brightest pages in history." Russian forces seized control of Crimea last March after the overthrow of the then-Ukrainian president who was backed by Moscow. Russia described the overthrow as a coup that threatened the safety of Crimea's mostly Russian-speaking population. Crimeans later voted by a landslide to join Russia ... in a referendum that Ukraine's government and western nations called illegal. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the anniversary at a massive concert in Red Square. He told some 100,000 supporters that Crimea and Russia are bound by history. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "We understood that it's not about the 'territory', which we have enough of. It's about historical roots of our spirituality and statehood. It's about what makes us a united nation." Putin delivered a similarly patriotic speech exactly one year ago urging Russia's parliament to annex Crimea, a region he now calls "New Russia". Since then, his popularity has soared. But Western leaders fear Russia is becoming increasingly expansionist .. and that she may try to take control of other regions in former Soviet states.

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Russians celebrate first anniversary of Crimea annexation

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 02:02