MOSCOW, December 18. /TASS/. French MP Thierry Mariani of the center-right Republicans party said on Friday he may visit the self-proclaimed people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine next year with a French parliamentary delegation.
"It is highly probable that we will go there next year," Mariani told a news briefing hosted by TASS. Mariani leads a delegation of 17 French parliamentarians who arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit on Thursday.
Mariani visited Donetsk region's Kramatorsk and Slavyansk in the spring in a bid by the French lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, to prepare a report on relations between Russia and Ukraine.
"As I try to have a responsible approach to this effort and write a report in the fairest way, it would be right to go to the region that is on the other side" (of the contact line between forces loyal to Kiev and those of the independence-seeking territories), he said, declining to reveal further details on the trip for security reasons.
In July, Mariani visited Crimea, which rejoined Russia in March 2014. Following the visit, he was removed from his post in the European People's Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
During that visit, the French lawmaker compared the Black Sea peninsula to southern France, saying that the situation there was normal that and Crimea’s return to Russia was legitimate.