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18 Mar, 2016 20:53

Mass rallies, fireworks, Putin visits: Crimea marks second anniversary of reunification with Russia

President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Crimea on the second anniversary of the peninsula’s reunification with Russia. The day saw massive celebrations across the country as well as a gorgeous fireworks display in Simferopol.

“This historical justice had been long awaited and dreamed of without any exaggeration by millions of people,” Putin said as he congratulated the people on the Day of Sevastopol and Crimea’s Reunification with Russia, stressing that it only became possible after “the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol freely voiced their preferences in a referendum two years ago.”

On Friday, the Russian president visited Tuzla Island in the Crimea region, where he held a meeting dedicated to the development of the peninsula.

In the meantime, people in Russia celebrated the second reunification anniversary. Rallies, marches and concerts were held in many Crimean cities and towns. In the regional capital of Simferopol, thousands of people rallied through the streets of the city waving Russian and Crimean flags, Russian media reported.

In Sevastopol, about 5,000 people, including the Kazaks and the members of various civic organizations, marched.

At the same time, more than 100,000 people joined a mass rally in support of reunification in the center of Moscow, near Red Square, according to police estimates. The event which took place under the slogan “we are together!” was followed by a concert.

In the Chechen capital of Grozny, about 10,000 people attended a rally on the second anniversary of the reunification. They were holding banners and placards that read “Peace and happiness be with you!” and "Welcome home!” as well as waving Russian and Chechen flags.

Festive events took place in all major Russian cities with thousands taking part in rallies and demonstrations even in the Far East.

The Crimean Republic reunited with the Russian Federation on March 18, 2014. Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the peninsula, voted for independence from Ukraine and rejoining Russia in a referendum on March 16, 2014. The decision was supported by roughly 97 percent of voters with an 83 percent turnout.

The move was prompted by the ousting of the democratically elected president of Ukraine and the installation of a nationalist-backed regime, which almost immediately declared war on the pro-Russian regions in the southeast.