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European air traffic regulator suspends flights to Crimea

April 02, 2014, 14:28 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

The organization explained its decision by the fact that the airspace over Crimea is no longer controlled by Ukrainian air traffic controllers

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© AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

BRUSSELS, April 02. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) has suspended all flights to Crimea, particularly to the airports of Sevastopol and Simferopol, “until further notice,” website reported.

The organization explained its decision by the fact that the airspace over Crimea, which last month seceded from Ukraine and merged with Russia, is no longer controlled by Ukrainian air traffic controllers.

“Eurocontrol is strictly following ICAO Convention on International Civil Aviation and will not recognize any unilateral declaration of air navigation service provision over any part of Ukrainian airspace other than from the Ukrainian authority,” the website quoted the Eurocontrol as saying in its statement.

According to Eurocontrol’s website, the organization supports its 40 member states as well as the European Union “to achieve safe, efficient and environmentally-friendly air traffic operations across the European region.”

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed agreements with Russia to become its constituent members on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

The developments followed a coup in Ukraine in February that occurred after months of anti-government protests, which often turned violent.

Crimea’s merger with Russia drew an angry response from the West. The European Union jointly with the United States declared a set of sanctions against Russia.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine.

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

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