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Russia Celebrates Crimea Grab, Critics Denounce 'Climate of Fear'

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine two years ago as a long-awaited moment of “historic justice,” while Western governments assailed Moscow over the annexation and Human Rights Watch described a “pervasive climate of fear and repression” on the peninsula.
 
On national television, Putin thanked Crimeans for what he termed their act of “free will” in backing the annexation in a referendum in March 2014, which was widely seen as illegitimate by the international community and followed a military takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
 
As Putin marked the anniversary with a trip to an island off Crimea, where he inspected building work on a massive bridge to Russia, the European Union decried Russia’s “military buildup” on the territory and called on more nations to impose sanctions on Moscow -- as the EU, the United States, and other Western countries have done.
 
A prominent Crimean Tatar leader likened Putin to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who deported the Crimean Tatar community en masse during World War II, and said he was visiting the scene of the crime.
 

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Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Russia Celebrates Crimea Grab, Critics Denounce 'Climate of Fear'

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