ARTEK (Yalta), July 7. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry does everything possible so that foreign journalists who want to visit Crimea get Russian visas as soon as possible, official spokesman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.
"For those foreign nationals that want to visit Crimea, I want to say that the visa regime is the same on the territory of the whole country," Zakharova said. "If there are special groups of journalists, for instance, or representatives of international organizations, I can assure you that we are doing everything possible to provide information to them and, of course, without violation of Russian legislation, to make everything possible for prompt issuance of visas and documents," she added.
"We are doing everything possible for the consular service to work promptly and effectively," the diplomat said adding that special attention is paid to rare negative cases. "If there are cases of ineffectiveness or low progress against the backdrop of normal issuance of visas, we are working on them. Only few people complain about issuance of visas, we are doing this promptly," she concluded.
According to the diplomat, Russia regularly raises an issue concerning discrimination of Crimean residents in terms of foreign visas issue at international floors.
"This is discrimination and violation of human rights Russia was always criticized for," Zakharova said. "Now it turns out that rights of specific citizens are directly violated. Non-issue of visas by territorial principle, by expression of will of citizens or their political views is a direct violation of various international obligations of countries deciding to do that," she said.
"We put this issue forward in bilateral contacts and at international floors and call attention of heads of international organizations to unacceptability of such discrimination," Zakharova said. "Despite Europe being the birthplace in human rights sphere, now it is taking the lead in the sanction policy of persecuting specific individuals," she added.
The spokeswoman believes Crimea does not need another referendum.
"Crimeans have already proved that they can take their future into their own hands at critical moments," Zakharova said. "For this, they do not need world leaders, endless advisors or analysts. It is up to the Crimean people to decide what they should do and how they should live," she added.
She noted that "it is odd to advise something to Crimeans."
Amid a political crisis and the change of power in Ukraine in February 2014, Crimea’s Supreme Council (parliament) and Sevastopol’s City Council adopted on March 11, 2014 Crimea’s and Sevastopol’s declaration of independence. A referendum on reunification with Russia was held on March 16, 2014. With a record-breaking turnout of 80%, the overwhelming majority of Crimea’s and Sevastopol residents, mostly ethic Russians, (96.7 and 95.6%, respectively) voted in favour of ceding from Ukraine to join Russia. After the treaty of Crimea’s and Sevastopol’s reunification with Russia was approved by the Russian parliament, President Vladimir Putin on March 21, 2014 signed a federal law on admitting two new constituent entities in the Russian Federation.
Despite the results of the referendum, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union refuse to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.