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Putin Inaugurated Bridge That Links Russian Mainland to Crimea

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine's southeast.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Position of Crimea. Pixabay
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The 19-km, $3.7 billion bridge is Moscow’s only direct road link to Crimea. Russia expects it will carry millions of cars and rail travellers and millions of tonnes of cargo each year. Previously, all car traffic passed over the Kerch strait by ferry or by passing through Ukraine, the Guardian reported.

On Tuesday, Putin drove an orange Kamaz truck across the bridge as he opened the road to car traffic. “In different historical epochs, even under the tsar priests, people dreamed of building this bridge,” Putin told workers at the ceremony.

“Then they returned to this (idea) in the 1930s, the 40s, the 50s. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened.”

The Russian state media touted the bridge as the “construction of the century”. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had considered and then scrapped plans to build a bridge over the Kerch strait.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s southeast.

In 2016, the US imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the Kerch strait. Ukraine said the construction of the bridge showed “blatant disregard for international law”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly-controversial bridge linking the Russian mainland to Crimea, tightening Russias hold over the contested peninsula which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Vladimir Putin opened the bridge from Russia to Crimea. wikimedia commons

The US State Department said that “the bridge impeded ship navigation and goods delivery in the area and therefore it was watching the situation closely”.

The Russian embassy, however, said that “the US remarks were predictable and Moscow was not asking anyone’s authorization for building infrastructure projects on its territory.

“As one could predict, Washington is not happy with that. But Crimea is Russia,” the Russian embassy said in a statement.

“We shall not ask for anybody’s permission to build transport infrastructure for the sake of the population of Russian regions.”

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The bridge’s construction was led by Stroygazmontazh, whose owner, Arkady Rotenberg, has close connections to the Kremlin. Rotenberg was Putin’s judo sparring partner.

He was hit with sanctions by the US for his proximity to Putin and by the EU for being among those accused of undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule, according to Russian state news agencies. It can reportedly carry up to 40,000 cars per day, its span is greater than that of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal, previously the longest in Europe. (IANS)

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Police: People Breaks Security During President’s Visit To Puri temple

The Odisha Police today said “some people” had breached the security cordon

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Police: People Breaks Security During President's Visit To Puri temple
Police: People Breaks Security During President's Visit To Puri temple. Flickr

The Odisha Police today said “some people” had breached the security cordon during President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to the Puri Jagannath Temple with his wife on March 18.

The statement by Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi comes a day after the state government denied receipt of any letter from the Rashtrapati Bhavan regarding the alleged misconduct of servitors in the 12th century shrine.

A section of the media had reported that the Rashtrapati Bhavan wrote to the temple administration, alleging inappropriate behaviour by servitors outside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple

Sarangi said the district collector of Puri, ahead of the President’s visit, was asked to ensure that no servitor goes close to the First couple or requests them to sign on any book during their visit to the temple.

“Though the temple administration had informed the servitors about the instruction, some people tried to go close to the President by breaching the security cordon. We had submitted a report to the temple administration in this connection,” Sarangi said.

However, the minutes of the temple management committee’s March 20 meeting, which had been in circulation on social media, mentioned that the Rashtrapati Bhavan expressed displeasure over the conduct of servitors.

It also said some servitors allegedly milled around Savita Kovind, while she was offering prayers inside the temple’s sanctum sanctorum, leading to occasional jostling.

Hon'ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, visited Belur Math on 29 Nov 2017
Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, visited Belur Math on 29 Nov 2017. Flickr

Sources in the temple administration, in their defence, said the March 20 meeting might have discussed the matter, based on a police report, which suggested that the security cordon was breached during the First couple’s visit.

The president of the Suar-Mahasuar Nijog (servitors’ organisation), Damodar Mahasuar, today lodged a complaint at the Singhadwara police station against Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal and former Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Pradeep Jena, accusing them of trying to defame the servitors of the temple.

Binayak Dasmohapatra, the assistant secretary of another servitors’ body, said, “If such an incident had taken place, the police should have arrested the servitors immediately.” The temple administration is trying to malign the entire servitor community, he alleged.

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“Why did the temple administration and the police did not take action? Why did the temple administration not make the incident public after the meeting on March 20?” Dasmohapatra asked. (IANS)