A couple of days ago I read good piece of analysis from a recent "Harvard International Review", by Andreas Umland. [Thanks UkrToday] It includes this passage:
"...in 2008, the Moscow leadership demonstrated in Georgia – not the least to Kiev - that it is prepared to use military force to defend vital interests in her "near abroad." Many Russian politicians have let it be known, in public, that the Crimea’s majority Russian ethnic makeup places the peninsula within Moscow's natural sphere of influence. Some even see Crimea as a part of Russia's historic territory."
Today 'Segodnya' carries this article which I've loosely translated:
"Biker's rally in Crimea seen off by a leather-jacketed Putin
Russian bikers stage their [motorcycle] rally in Sevastopol
Russian bikers held the main event of the Russian motorcycle world calendar, their 13th [annual] biker show, for the first time, in Crimea. For many years, with support of the authorities and hundreds admirers, its home had been in the Kaliningrad region of Russia where it had become a huge event. This year it was decided to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Sevastopol and stage it in Crimea, where up to about 7 thousand bikers took part.
Besides Ukrainians, and organizers of the event - Russians, children from many countries also participated. From Russia they brought a flag which was handed to them by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In general the dominant theme of the rally was ideological. Appeals for unity of all Slavs were constantly aired, including during a performance on stage by well-known Russian 'rocker' Konstantin Kintchev.
The leader of one of Russian biker gangs, Andrey Septenok, nicknamed Hans, shared his impressions of the event with 'Segodnya'. "We left Moscow on July7th. Putin himself came to the biker centre to see us off. He appeared in a leather jacket and 'shades'. He wrote a card of greeting and presented us with a flag. It lifted everyone's spirits! We travelled for three days to Sevastopol - through Kursk, Belgorod, Zaporozhye arriving on the night of the 10th in Sevastopol.
A stage was set up there. We had bought tickets for 400 roubles earlier at home, for the concert. In the evening we pitched a tent with the children. The concert was brilliant: Kintchev and his Alisa, "Aria", "The King and the Clown", and "Vopli Vidoplyasova". Then they showed a war chronicle film about the liberation of Sevastopol. I'm an old biker, but it's the first time I saw so many people".
The 'Segodyna' piece is illustrated with a photo entitled: "Friendship. Russian and Ukrainian flags [well, one anyway] fluttered over the bikers. "
The story just makes LEvko feel a bit uneasy..