Vladimir Putin's 'Crimea effect' ebbs away 5 years on

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Vladimir Putin’s ‘Crimea effect’ ebbs away 5 years on

Deutsche Welle

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Vladimir Putins Crimea effect ebbs away 5 years on
Vladimir Putin’s ‘Crimea effect’ ebbs away 5 years on. picture-alliance /dpa/EPA/A. Pedko
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Five years ago, heavily armed pro-Russian fighters in green uniforms without insignia took control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Several weeks later, on March 16, 2014, Russia’s government held a highly controversial referendum asking the local population whether it wanted Crimea to become part of Russia or remain in Ukraine. Almost 97 percent of the electorate voted for Crimea to join Russia.

Most countries, however, did not recognize the referendum. Two days after the vote, a treaty was signed over Crimea’s accession to Russia. Moscow refers to this as Crimea’s “reunification” with Russia, while Ukraine and many other countries dismiss this move as a violation of international law. They say Russia annexed the peninsula.

Read more: Ukraine to ditch Russian friendship treaty amid tensions

Crimea affair boosts Putin’s approval ratings

Crimea’s controversial accession to Russia bolstered Russian President Vladimir Putin’s domestic standing, boosting his approval ratings from 60 to over 80 percent. Russian experts called this the “Crimea effect.” Nikolay Petrov of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics says a wave of euphoria swept over the country. “Back in 2014, people felt anything was possible and everything was allowed,” adding that Russians were excited about their nation’s return to greatness. He says this let “Russians forget their worries.”

Konstantin Gaase of the Carnegie Moscow Center believes this “Crimea effect” was a unique phenomenon that cannot be compared to any other event in Russian history. He thinks that “any attempt to emulate this effect would fail.” And that this effect “was more than just propaganda, the Crimea affair allowed many to express things they had never dared to say before.”

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