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Russia to defend the rights of Crimeans to travel abroad — Lavrov

September 01, 2014, 19:02 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The European Union banned its embassies and visa centers in Russia from issuing visas, including Schengen, to Crimeans after Crimea separated from Ukraine and reunited with Russia
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MOSCOW, September 01. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia would defend the rights of its citizens residing in Crimea to travel abroad.

The European Union banned its embassies and visa centers in Russia from issuing visas, including Schengen, to Crimeans after Crimea separated from Ukraine and reunited with Russia on March 18 this year.

"Following a decision by the European Council, EU visas will be issued only to residents of Crimea in Ukraine, because Crimea is a part of this country (according to Brussels)," the European Commission said in its report in March.

Lavrov described the ban as unlawful. “It is not based on any international legal document. On the contrary, the EU is violating commitments which its members took on under the European Convention on Human Rights,” Lavrov told the students and professors of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) at the traditional annual meeting on Tuesday.

Lavrov said that Russia’s European partners were resorting to the most intricate and sophisticated means to create artificial barriers to Crimeans, who now hold Russian passports, to travel abroad.

“We are actively fighting against (such policies) and I am sure that we will be able to ensure the rights of our citizens,” Lavrov emphasized.

Crimea used to be part of Russia from 1784 until 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev handed it over to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in a voluntaristic act. Crimea remained part of independent Ukraine after the USSR collapsed in 1991.

A people’s referendum was held in Crimea on March 16, 2014 in which most people voted for reuniting with Russia. On March 18, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Crimea’s incorporation into Russia.

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