SIMFEROPOL, June 3. /TASS/. Grand Princess Maria Vladimirovna, the head of the Imperial House of the Romanovs, and her son, Grand Prince Georgy Mikhailovich, drove on Saturday in a Russian-built Lada Largus car over the bridge connecting Crimea with mainland Russia, Vladislav Pilkevich, a spokesman for the Imperial House of the Romanovs in Crimea told TASS.
"Grand Princess Maria Vladimirovna and Grand Prince Georgy Mikhailovich drove over the Crimean bridge," he said. "The imperial family wished to drive along the bridge in a Russian-made car, which was a Lada Largus. The grand prince was at the wheel carrying his mother, the head of the Imperial House."
Maria Vladimirovna and her son arrived in the Black Sea peninsula on May 28. Their trip will last until June 3. They have paid visits to the cities of Kerch, Simferopol, Theodosia and Sevastopol. The trip aims to show support to Crimeans who voted for reunification with Russia at the March 2014 referendum.
"It is also symbolical that the Crimean bridge was opened in the year marking the 235th anniversary of incorporation of the Crimean Peninsula in the Russian Empire," Pilkevich told TASS.
Maria Vladimirovna is the only sibling in the family of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, the head of the Russian Imperial House in Exile [the son of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich who declared himself the formal head of the Imperial Family in Exile in 1924] and Princess Leonida Georgiyevna Bagration-Mukhranskaya. Her parents belonged to a branch of the Imperial Family that began with Grand Duke Nicholas Jr., the grandson of Emperor Nicholas I [b. 1796, d. 1855].
The Kerch Strait Bridge, commissioned for full-scale operation on May 15, has linked Crimea and the Taman Peninsula on the mainland. Its construction became necessary after the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March 2014.
Initial plans featured the commissioning of the automobile sector of the bridge project in December 2018 but the contractors managed to complete it seven months earlier.
President Vladimir Putin led the gala opening ceremony on May 15 and regular traffic on the bridge began on May 16.
On 16 March 2014, more than 82% of Crimea’s electorate took part in the referendum, when 96.77% in the Republic of Crimea and 95.6% in the Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favor of reuniting with Russia. On March 18, President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Russia’s Federal Assembly (parliament) approved the document on March 21.
Ukraine refused to recognize the referendum was legitimate. In July 2014, the European Union and the US imposed sanctions against Crimea and Russia and have repeatedly extended and expanded them.