Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, taking it away from Ukraine, a move that the West deemed illegitimate after ousting the pro-Russian Ukrainian president.
Putin lauded the merger during a visit to the coastal city of Sevastopol, a safe haven for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
“Our country has regained its historical unity. This living and inexhaustible bond can be felt especially strongly here in Sevastopol, in Crimea”, he declared.
Putin insisted, Crimea “is with Russia forever, as it is the sovereign, free and unshakable will of the people, of all our peoples.”
National Unity Day celebrates the expulsion of the Polish-Lithuanian army that captured Moscow in 1612. The holiday was made in 2005, in place of commemoration on that date of the Bolshevik Revolution during Soviet times.
The day has also become an occasion for a nationalist march against immigration, but Moscow authorities have banned such events in the Russian capital this year.
According to OVD-Info, about 20 people were arrested as they tried to gather at a Moscow metro station for a nationalist protest, a group that tracks political demonstrations and arrests made there.
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