Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened a new bridge linking southern Russia to Crimea.
Putin drove a large truck Tuesday across the bridge, which Russia is calling the Crimean Bridge. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
The opening of the bridge drew immediate criticism from Ukraine, which has said the project violates international law. President Petro Poroshenko said the opening was an attempt by Russia "to legitimize the temporary occupation” of Crimea.
Russian state television showed Putin - dressed in casual clothes - leading a group of trucks across the bridge. After reaching the Crimean side, he praised builders for their hard work. The efforts, he said, had made it possible for “this miracle” to be completed.
The 19-kilometer bridge cost $3.6 billion to build. It links southern Russia to the Crimean city of Kerch. A railroad bridge is also being built and is due to be completed by the end of 2019.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea was condemned by the international community. The European Union and United States placed economic sanctions on Russia for the action.
Human rights record
As Putin was celebrating the bridge, a new report was published heavily criticizing Russia for its human rights record. Human Rights Watch published a report Tuesday called Russia: FIFA World Cup 2018 - Human Rights Guide for Reporters.
The New York-based group says Russia will hold the upcoming FIFA World Cup championship during "the worst human rights crisis” since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Human Rights Watch urges FIFA to use its influence to bring up major human rights issues with Russian officials. Among the issues are labor rights abuses, restrictions on basic freedoms, internet censorship and attempting to silence rights activists.
Hugh Williamson is Human Rights Watch’s director for Europe and Central Asia. He says the month-long World Cup can draw massive international attention to important issues outside of football. The new report aims to inform World Cup reporters about human rights abuses happening across Russia, he added.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
annex – v. to add (an area or region) to a country, state, etc. or to take control of a territory or place
legitimize – v. make something legal or acceptable
casual – adj. designed for or permitting ordinary dress: not formal
miracle – n. unusual and mysterious event often thought to have been caused by God
sanction – n. an action taken by one or more nations to make another nation follow a rule or law
censorship – n. the blocking or removing of material such as writings, film, videos which are not approved by the government