‘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

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.

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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