Reclaiming Russia's Paradise
As part of the Big Stories 2014, Lucy Ash travels to Yalta, one of Crimea's busiest resorts as the Russian government tries to fill the gap left by foreign tourists staying away.
Vladimir Putin may have angered the international community by snatching Crimea from Ukraine back in April this year but opinion polls showed that nearly 80 percent of Russians approve of the move. It's hard to overstate the importance of this Black Sea peninsula in the Russian psyche. The region was originally conquered by Catherine the Great's favourite general who said "Russia needs its paradise." But this summer millions of Ukrainian and foreign tourists stayed away from Crimea's beaches. The Russian government tried to fill the gap by urging employers to send staff on subsidised breaks in Crimea. A holiday in the newly annexed peninsula was seen as every Russian's patriotic duty, despite the continuing fighting in nearby Eastern Ukraine and the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner. As part of the Big Stories 2014, Lucy went to Yalta, one of Crimea's busiest resorts, to meet tourists and locals making the most of the summer.