Ukraine Says Crimea Tourism Ad Displays Kremlin's 'Imperialist Pride'

lt;pgt;Russia#039;s attempt to rebrand the annexed Crimean peninsula as a summer tourism hotspot has prompted outrage in Ukraine and been widely mocked by Russian bloggers.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Soon after pro-European protesters toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych#039;s pro-Russian government, the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine in March 2014 by heavily armed separatists that most observers believe were backed by the Kremlin. Subsequently the peninsula#039;s usually busy tourist season was interrupted, and Russia#039;s tourism body reported that Crimea lost at least two million annual visitors, falling from six million in 2013 to four million in 2014.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;In a bid to avoid repeating last year#039;s tourism slump, a polished but controversial ad, produced by Russia#039;s main TV channel Perviy Kanal, was posted online earlier this month. It portrays Crimea as a family-friendly, affordable destination that is full of scenic views, castles and cheap food.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;In the ad, each member of the strikingly symmetrical Russian nuclear family lists what he or she would like to do on an ideal holiday, with the camera then skipping to Crimean sites that appear to satisfy their desires exactly. The grandparents ask for an inexpensive, healthy, beachside holiday; the two girls ask for a place with dolphins and mountains; and the two boys ask for a place with extreme sports or somewhere to meet new friends. Finally, the mother asks for a holiday in a fairytale setting with castles and delicious food.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;The father concludes that the family is going to Crimea.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;lt;iframe src=quot;https://www.youtube.com/embed/DTugncJ5xOAquot; frameborder=quot;0quot; width=quot;560quot; height=quot;315quot;gt;lt;/iframegt;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Earlier this week, Russian bloggers produced a lt;a href=quot;https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpXvaOtyvu8quot; rel=quot;nofollowquot;gt;parody videolt;/agt;nbsp;of the ad, during which the high-resolution clips of Crimea#039;s pristine beaches, succulent local dishes and evergreen mountains are substituted out in favor of genuine Russian news announcements about toxic spills on the Crimean coastline, the mass poisoning of St. Petersburg students in a Sevastopol cafe on Monday and footage of near-empty beaches.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Speaking to lt;emgt;Newsweeklt;/emgt;, the deputy head of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko#039;s administration, Rostyslav Pavlenko, called the Russian ad quot;yet another sign of the Kremlin#039;s imperialist pride that goes in violation of the international law.quot;lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;It is a complete and utter disgrace that demonstrates how Russia uses all kinds of images to spread its propaganda,quot; Pavlenko added.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;Russia#039;s annexation of Crimea is not internationally recognized, and Ukrainian law demands that foreign nationals should request permission from Kiev before travelling to Crimea.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;The Ukrainian government resolved that all foreign citizens, including the Russians, have to have a special authorization to visit Crimea. The only legal way to come to Crimea is through the adjacent Kherson and Mykolayiv regions. Any other transports routes are deemed illegal,quot; Pavlenko says.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;According to Pavlenko, E.U. and U.S. sanctions and Russia#039;s budding economic crisis have had a negative effect on the overall number of visitors to the peninsula and to tourism businesses in the area.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;quot;As a result [of these factors], it has been the second consecutive year when the tourist season was at an all-time low in comparison with the years before the annexation. With Russia, it will always stay a heavily subsidized region with no opportunities to develop a tourist business whatsoever,quot; Pavlenko says.lt;/pgt; lt;pgt;The Russian government is backing huge infrastructure projects intended to improve transport links between Russia and the peninsula and to increase tourism. The biggest of these is a lt;a href=quot;http://europe.newsweek.com/putins-judo-partner-set-build-russias-bridge-crimea-299388quot; rel=quot;nofollowquot;gt;multibillion-dollar bridgelt;/agt; from mainland Russia across the Kerch strait and into the Crimean city of Tuzla, due to be finished by 2018, and the transformation of the Belbek military air base in the city of Sevastopol into a commercial airpot by the end of 2015, state news agency lt;a href=quot;http://tass.ru/ekonomika/2114943quot; rel=quot;nofollowquot;gt;Itar-Tasslt;/agt; reported earlier this month.lt;/pgt;