Russia's Putin Flies to Crimea for Victory DayWorld | May 9, 2014, Friday // 14:51| views
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo by EPA/BGNES
Russian President Vladimir Putin has flown to the Crimean Peninsula, which was absorded by Russia from Ukraine, as part of Victory Day celebrations.
It is the first time the President goes to Crimea after it became part of the Russian Federation following a local referendum.
He is to mark there both the 69th anniversary of WWII victory and 70 years since the city was freed of the Nazis.
The Kremlin had previously announced Putin's plans to travel to the city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been based for decades, on the anniversary, but his trip had not been confirmed.
It was his press-secretary Dmitry Peskov who reported his participation in Sevastopol's festive events, according to RIA Novosti agency.
European politicians adopted a highly critical tone on the issue on Friday, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be a pity if he used the occasion to visit Crimea amid tensions in mainland Ukraine.
Russia is celebrating Victory Day on May 9 to mark its victory over the Nazis in 1945.
After a spectacular parade in Moscow earlier on Friday, Sevastopol's events will also be held with a certain degree of pomp, as a military parade, involving infantry but also ships stationed in the Black Sea and around 70 aircraft, is due to take place.
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