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Russia ready to discuss fate of Ukrainians serving time in Crimea — diplomat

June 02, 2016, 20:17 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian Foreign Ministry stands against politicizing the issue

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. Moscow is ready, on the basis of observance of legal norms, to discuss with Kiev the issue of Ukrainian convicts serving their sentences in Crimea but speaks against politicization of the problem, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing Thursday.

"It’s a difficult humanitarian issue, and its solution should of course be based on strict compliance with the norms of Russian laws and international law," Zakharova said.

"We are ready to discuss these problems with Ukrainian partners. We do not hide it, speak about this openly, but the desire to politicize the problem and such work, give it a PR tint - all this will certainly not do any good to the cause," she said.

Zakharova expressed regret in connection with the fact that "official Kiev is now known for that."

"So if this problem is to be solved, we are ready for such work on the basis of Russian laws and international law," she said. "This is certainly not a matter of an exchange of public statements or some public complaints. This is a matter of specific work for which the Russian side is ready."

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.

According to the Crimean and Ukrainian statistics bodies, as of early 2014, Crimea had a population of 1,959,000 people; Sevastopol has a population of 384,000 people.

Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems has been actively underway since Crimea acceded to the Russian Federation.

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