Putin hails Crimea annexation and war with lessons on heroism

Putin hails Crimea annexation and war with lessons on heroism

Eight years after Russian troops seized Ukraine’s southern region of Crimea, the event is being celebrated with flag-waving crowds in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium and special lessons in schools.

President Vladimir Putin made a special appearance before the crowd.

State workers said they had been told to take part. In schools, teachers held lessons marking the “Crimean spring”.

The Russian army has used its bases in Crimea to seize towns and cities on Ukraine’s south coast.

Mr Putin has regularly used the anniversary to highlight love of the motherland.

Officials said more than 200,000 people had gathered at the stadium, although the numbers could not be verified. The stadium’s official capacity is 81,000, but there were also large crowds outside.

President Putin praised the military, who he said had demonstrated Russian unity: “When needed, they shield each other from bullets with their bodies like brothers. Such unity we have not had for a long time.” He also repeated the false claim that Russian troops were protecting people in areas of eastern Ukraine from genocide.

But as he spoke on stage, his address on almost every major state TV channel suddenly cut to singer Oleg Gazmanov belting out the words “Forward, Russia”, in what the Kremlin later called a technical glitch.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin also addressed the event along with top state TV journalist Margarita Simonyan and foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. (Courtesy BBC)

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