SIMFEROPOL, December 7. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s statement about natives of Siberia settling in Crimea is a "scary tale for the West", Crimean vice-premier on inter-ethnic relations Ruslan Balbek told TASS on Monday.
"These false reports are meant for foreign consumers. This is a scary tale for the West, designed to create a negative image of Russian Crimea and incite ethnic strife among Crimeans on the peninsula," Balbek said.
Poroshenko’s statement could not be considered serious, he said, adding "It's just another foolishness that causes only laughter among Crimeans who are now more united than ever."
Poroshenko said in a statement distributed earlier by Ukraine's press service that Russian authorities wanted natives of Siberia to settle in Crimea and exert pressure on Crimean Tatars.
"It's confusing when such a high-ranking politician allows himself to descend to obviously false reports," Balbek said.
Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
In mid-March last year, Crimea re-joined Russia following a referendum. More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favor of reuniting with Russia.
Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticized by Western leaders and at the United Nations.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean region, along with Sevastopol, to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.