MOSCOW, April 30. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was ironical about Kiev’s protest over his visit to Crimea.
"I appreciate it that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is following my movements across the country and is interested in development of Russian Crimea," Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page.
"I think Russia’s Foreign Ministry may also comment on visits by the Ukrainian leadership to the Lvov or Kharkov regions," the premier added.
Kiev’s reaction to visit
Medvedev visited Crimea April 27. The Ukrainian foreign policy department filed a note of protest to the Russian Federation over that on April 29.
"The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry assesses that visit, like previous such trips of Russian officials to the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory, as deliberate actions aimed at further deliberate aggravation of bilateral relations and display of disrespect for norms of international law," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebiynis told a briefing Wednesday.
Russian deputy’s reaction
A senior Russian deputy, Frants Klintsevich, said Wednesday the protest lodged by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry over Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Crimea means that Kiev has completely lost the sense of reality.
"It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Kiev has completely lost the sense of reality," Klintsevich, who is first deputy head of Russia's ruling United Russia party faction, told journalists while commenting on Kiev’s reaction.
Crimea's reunification with Russia
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 Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Crimea had joined the Russian Empire in 1783, when it was conquered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
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 as a gift.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine and remained in that capacity until March 2014, when it reunified with Russia after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.
According to the Crimean and Ukrainian statistics bodies, as of early 2014, Crimea had a population of 1,959,000 people; Sevastopol has a population of 384,000 people.
Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems has been actively underway since Crimea acceded to the Russian Federation.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after the referendum in mid-March 2014.