Teenagers attend a rally marking the second anniversary of Crimea voting to leave Ukraine and join the Russian state in central Simferopol on March 16, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV
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President Vladimir Putin heads to Crimea Friday as Russia marks two years since annexing the peninsula from Ukraine in a move that dramatically impacted its ties with the West.State-sponsored concerts and public festivities are taking place across Russia to commemorate the March 2014 takeover that Moscow insists followed a referendum in which Crimea residents voted overwhelmingly to swap countries.A survey published last month by the independent Levada Centre showed 83 percent of Russians support Moscow's takeover of Crimea, which was transferred to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 .The West continues to condemn the annexation, vowing to keep sanctions in place as long as Crimea remains under Russian control.
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