Ukrainian tourists planning seaside vacations in Crimea are having to endure kilometer-long lines on the Ukraine side of the border, Crimean authorities said. Photos on social media show queues of cars with holidaymakers waiting to pass the checkpoint.
“For unknown reasons travelers have to languish for hours under the scorching sun,” the Crimean Border Guard Service said in a statement on Monday, as distributed by Russian news agencies.
People had to wait some 13 hours on average before passing the Ukrainian checkpoint at Chongar, the statement added, citing comments from holidaymakers.
The Russian Border Guard Service said it was working normally and there were no queues of cars in front of the Russian checkpoints. Some 24,500 tourists crossed the border, it added.
In the meantime, Ukrainians eager to spend their vacations in Crimea have been uploading photos of the long queues of cars on the Ukrainian border since mid-June.
“We queued for 13 hours,” one person wrote on Instagram, adding a video of rows of cars. One of her followers said that she was in a similar situation, while another added:
“You wouldn’t want any sea [after such delays].”
Another person wrote that she had spent hours in the queue and was barely closer to reaching the Ukrainian border.
Some people, however, managed to hold on to their sense of humor. “Chongar. Queue. Happiness,” one person wrote sarcastically.
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Ukrainian authorities haven’t released any official statement on the situation. However, Zaur Smirnov, the head of the Crimean State Committee for Inter-Ethnic relations, suggested that the delays were created “artificially” by the Kiev government.
“Kiev has attempted to introduce a blockade of the [Crimean] peninsula, this time a tourist one,” Smirnov said, as cited by RIA Novosti. The Ukrainian border service allegedly got instructions from Kiev to create artificial obstacles for Ukrainian tourists who travel to Crimea, he said.
“Kiev’s attempts to block its citizens [from entering Crimea] don’t scare us, as Crimea doesn’t depend on Ukrainian tourists.”
Crimea became a part of Russia in March 2014, when over 96 percent of the peninsula’s population voted in favor of the move in a referendum. The decision was prompted by the ouster of the Ukrainian president in a violent coup in Kiev.