Few people had been treated with such fanfare since the Beatles landed in the United States half a century ago -- until today.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin was greeted with a welcome fit for a homecoming king when he arrived in Crimea for the first time since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March.
It was a busy day full of pageantry for the Russian leader, who began the morning in Moscow's Red Square at a military parade.
The crowd of veterans, officials, and foreign dignitaries went wild when, after the troops marched in, the first armored personnel carrier rumbled through the square flying a Crimean flag. It was followed by the usual columns of tanks, artillery, and missiles. After that, helicopters and fighter jets streaked low overhead.
Putin, who has made it clear he has no interest in adding cold locales, such as Alaska, to his empire, was then whisked away to the picturesque seaside town of Sevastopol in Crimea.
Putin's visit to the former holiday hotspot coincided with Victory Day, the annual celebration when Moscow flexes its military muscle to celebrate the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
The holiday, similar to Memorial Day in the United States wasn't marked with barbecues and beach time. Instead, the Russians marked it with a show of military might that looked a lot like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.
Putin was flanked by decorated military men and was treated like a conquering hero in Crimea, where a half-dozen warships were anchored in the harbor. Some people in the crowd wore Putin T-shirts, while others waved Russian flags.
Putin, known for enjoying outdoor activities shirtless, instead wore a suit and tie as he paraded around the port city of Sevastopol. Adoring crowds lined the harbor and square, hoping to catch a glimpse of the steely leader, who spoke to onlookers through a microphone.
"I am sure that 2014 will go into the annals of our whole country as the year when the nations living here firmly decided to be together with Russia, affirming fidelity to the historical truth and the memory of our ancestors," Putin said, according to the BBC.