Putin sends Crimean holidaymakers to their deaths


Lerato Khumalo

61-year-old Anatoly told Der Spiegel in August 2023: “Compared to the terrorist attacks we experienced in Russia in the 1990s, this is nothing. I don’t see this as a real danger, but rather as proof that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is the right thing.” 35-year-old Alexei told the news magazine: “My wife and I have been planning our trip to Crimea with our two daughters, aged 3 and 14, for over a year. We have never once thought about cancelling the vacation.” He added: “The people who visit Crimea are not afraid. Those who are afraid stay at home. Everyone understands what is happening in Crimea.”

Despite the war, many Russians continue to spend their holidays in Crimea. In addition to the danger of Russian aggression, they accept that petrol and food are more expensive on the Black Sea peninsula than in Moscow. They also accept that they only have sporadic mobile phone reception and have to get SIM cards at military checkpoints.

Families in particular are very receptive to the Kremlin’s patriotic propaganda. Holidaymakers want to show that the Black Sea peninsula is historically part of Russia. They visit family members in Crimea or travel to the place where they vacationed during the Soviet era.

But why does Putin allow this to happen? The beach in Sevastopol, where the ATACMS cluster munitions apparently exploded on Sunday, is only three kilometers from an air force base and four kilometers from a naval base. Ukraine had previously repeatedly warned Russian vacationers that Crimea was not a suitable place to vacation because attacks could take place there.