A celebration rally took place in Crimea on Monday to mark the one-year anniversary of a disputed referendum to join Russia.
The event was attended by Chairman of Crimean Parliament Vladimir Konstantionv, Prime Minister of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, Russian Presidential Envoy to Crimea Oleg Beloventsev, Crimean MPs, as well as the Chairman at Saint-Petersburg Legislative Assembly, Chairman of the Volgograd Region Duma Nikolay Semisotov and Chairman of the Stavropol Region Duma Yury Beliy.
The officials thanked Crimeans and congratulated them with the remarkable date. Making a speech, Head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov said: “A year seems to have flown by like a day. I can’t believe we have done an impossible: we’ve back to our historical Homeland, despite all the threats and sanctions from the West. It became possible only with the help of all Crimea residents”.
An orchestra has performed Russian anthem and huge Russian flag was unfurled at the building of Crimean Parliament.
A year after Crimean unification with Russia has changed the peninsula dramatically.
Visa and MasterCard have both ceased operations in Crimea, essentially crippling the region's financial system: Paying by card is no longer possible, and businesses cannot wire or receive payments.
The sole land link to the Ukrainian mainland was closed off by Kiev, food prices have skyrocketed, tourist flows are down. The peninsula is even lacking in fresh water and electricity, more than 80 percent of which came from Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities stopped all trains to Crimea and installed border checkpoints that stop incoming cars.
Travel to Crimea is still possible by plane and ferry, but both the airport and the ferry line are oversubscribed. Ferry delays caused by choppy seas have generated lines of up to thousands of cars waiting for the chance to sail for days.