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Organizers of European MPs’ visit to Crimea condemn Ukraine’s sanctions

March 20, 18:32 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL

Ukraine’s Security Service on Monday passed a decision to impose sanctions on five European lawmakers who arrived on a three-day visit to Crimea on March 19

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SIMFEROPOL, March 20. /TASS/. Organizers of European lawmakers’ visit to Crimea have condemned the sanctions imposed by Kiev on lawmakers from Serbia and the Czech Republic on Monday.

Ukraine’s Security Service on Monday passed a decision to impose sanctions on five European lawmakers, four Serbians and one Czech national, who arrived on a three-day visit to Crimea on March 19. These people are banned to enter Ukraine for five years.

"Naturally, we condemn such inadequate reaction of the Ukrainian authorities. This step reveals their panic-driven fear in the face of the truth and unbiased information. If European lawmakers come to Ukraine tell Ukrainians how peacefully people live in Crimea, it may shake the legitimacy of the decaying Ukrainian regime," said Alexei Chepa, a deputy leader of the A Just Russia party faction in the Russian State Duma lower parliament house. The visit was organized by that party.

He said by taking this step the Ukrainian regime "resting exclusively on propaganda and repressions against its own citizens" has one again demonstrated its weakness. "I am sincerely thankful to the European politicians for their courage, decisiveness and commitment to objectivity. All responsible politicians should possess such qualities," he stressed.

On Sunday, a delegation of lawmakers from a number of European countries (the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Montenegro) and from Kyrgyzstan and Brazil arrived on a three-day visit to Crimea. On Monday, members of the delegation meet with Crimea’s authorities and general public.

Initially, the delegation included several lawmakers from Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania but they have ultimately opted not to take part.

Meanwhile, Secretary of National Security and Defense Council Alexander Turchinov said on March 19 the Council instructed Ukraine’s Security to compile a backlist of politicians from European and other countries who will face sanctions over their visits to Crimea. "In case these reports are confirmed, the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council will look at imposing sanctions on these people," Turchinov said. "In case their stay in Crimea is confirmed, criminal cases will be opened under the current laws."

However, the visiting European lawmakers say they are not afraid of Kiev’s sanctions as they have no plans to visit Ukraine.

Foreign lawmakers visited Crimea more than once after its reunification with Russia. Thus, a delegation of French lawmakers led by Thierry Mariani visited Crimea twice, in 2015 and in 2016.

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.

Despite the absolutely convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have been refusing to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.

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