Politics: 'We will build a real Russian mecca': See the bizarre photos of Putin posing at music festivals and hanging with bikers during his controversial visit to Crimea


Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, poses for a photo with participants of the annual Tavrida National Youth Educational Forum at Baikalskaya Spit in Stereguscheye village, Crimea.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry protested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin recently had a chance to observe, Crimea is lovely in the summertime.

Over the weekend, Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev went on what they called a “working trip” to Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.

The visit, which the Ukrainian government protested, was one more way to cement Russia's presence in the region.

Along with stepping onstage at a jazz festival and lighting candles in churches, Putin posed for photos with young Crimean supporters.

These bizarre photos captured by the AP show just how the visit went:

On August 18, Putin and Medvedev arrived in Sevastopol, a Crimean city and long-time strategic military base, for a visit that lasted several days.

Source: RadioFreeEurope

Many saw the visit as a strategic effort to show the Crimean people that Russia has their back.

Source: RadioFreeEurope

“We need to build a real Russian mecca here,” Putin said while visiting the ancient Crimean town of Hersones.

Source: Lenta

Not long after arriving, Putin and Medvedev met with parents and teachers at a local school. Here, the two review schoolbooks that will soon be used to teach at the school.

Source: MK.ru

Ukraine responded to Putin and Medevev's visit by sending a “note of protest” to the Russian parliament. Ukraine considers the visit to be a “severe violation of the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Despite strong anti-Putin opposition in Ukraine, many Crimeans greeted the Russian president warmly. Here he sits at an annual conference for Crimea's youth.

Source: Associated Press

As they often do on visits to other cities, Putin and Medvedev lit candles and said symbolic prayers in a Russian Orthodox church.

Source: Associated Press

Putin also laid a rose on a tomb dedicated to the lives of the Crimean soldiers who were killed during World War II.

He later met with members of the “Night Wolves” biker gang — a far-right nationalist group that spurred anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Crimea in 2014.

Sources: Associated Press, Time, RadioFreeEurope

But perhaps the most unexpected appearance occurred when, on August 20, Putin got onto the stage of Crimea's annual Koktebel Jazz Party and said a few words.

Source: Associated Press

“Music is a language that unites people and does not need translation,” Putin said during his visit. He also posed for photos with performers from the Opera Music Festival.

Source: TASS.ru

This hasn't been Putin's first visit to Crimea this summer — here he is on an excursion in June. This weekend's trip to the peninsula that most of the world recognizes as belonging to Ukraine was at least his ninth.

Source: RadioFreeEurope