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SOCHI, October 27. /TASS/. Russia's leaders are free to make trips to any place in Russia without asking anybody’s permission, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday at a meeting of the Valdai international discussion club, commenting on Ukraine’s protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s working trip to Crimea.
"It is of no interest for us," Lavrov said. "This is our land. Our leaders have the right to visit our territory without anybody’s permission."
On October 26, Putin took part in a regional Forum of Action of the All-Russia Popular Front in the Crimean city of Yalta. On the same day, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry referred a note of protest to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the Russian president’s trip to Crimea.
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 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.
Despite the results of the referendum, Ukraine has been refusing to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.