A happy snap taken by a speedo-wearing Russian tourist in occupied Ukraine may have revealed the location of one of his country’s military posts.
The photo, believed to have been taken near the coastal city of Yevpatoria in Western Crimea, shows the middle-aged man posing in front of an S-400 air defence system.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence shared the image to its Twitter account this week, thanking the middle-aged gentleman for the photo.
“Maybe we are being hard on Russian tourists… Sometimes they can be really helpful,” it wrote.
“Like this man taking pictures at Russian air defence positions near Yevpatoria, in occupied Crimea.
“Thank you and keep up the good work!”
Tourists enjoying Crimean sun despite military blasts
The man is one of a number of tourists appearing to have visited territories occupied by Russia since it began its illegal war six months ago.
Last week tourists visiting the beach city of Sevastopol and the Crimean capital Simferopol told Reuters they were focused on having a good time.
That was despite a series of explosions ripping through a Russian air base in Crimea earlier that week, and the presence of the country’s warships and helicopters being seen nearby.
Russian man Yury Znamenskiy said “regardless of explosions” his group planned to “relax in this wonderful sun and wonderful sea”.
Russia replacing Ukrainians with its own citizens
Encouraging Russians to visit occupied areas can be traced back to Soviet Union policy, explains Dr Sonia Mycak from the Centre for European Studies at the Australian National University.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was responsible for changing the demography of Crimea, deporting almost all 240,000 ethnic Tatars from the region in 1944.
Another example is the 1932 to 1933 Holodomor genocide in which millions of Ukrainians were killed by an artificial famine created by Russia.
In both cases the Soviet Union replaced Ukrainians living in those regions with ethnic Russians.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin began occupying parts of Ukraine this year, Dr Mycak has seen evidence the nation is inviting citizens to take over the homes of Ukrainians who have fled the fighting.
“It’s literally the apartments and the houses left vacant by Ukrainians who have been forced to evacuate,” she said.
“Russian citizens are invited to come and just take that accommodation for themselves.”
Russian teachers heading to schools in occupied cities
In the occupied city of Kherson, where the Russian school curriculum is being forced onto schools, Ukrainian teachers are resisting, so authorities are working to replace them.
“There are advertisements going up across Russia that say: If you're a teacher we invite you to come to Kherson to teach this new curriculum,” Dr Mycak said.
“Not only will your travel expenses be paid, but you'll have free accommodation. You'll be able to move straight into an apartment or a house that's fully set up and that will be yours.”
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