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Ukraine activists lifting Crimea border barriers as commodity blockade nears

December 31, 2015, 14:32 UTC+3 KIEV
PM Yatsenyuk announced at a December 16 Cabinet session a government decision which prohibited all supplies from Crimea to Ukraine and vice versa
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© Arkhip Vereshchagin/TASS

KIEV, December 31. /TASS/. Roadblocks barring passage from Ukraine to the Republic of Crimea are being removed after a decision by Kiev authorities to restrict commodities bound for the newly independent territory, a Ukrainian activist announced on Thursday.

Observers remain stationed at the entry point to the Black Sea peninsula but are not impending through traffic, organizer Lenur Islyamov announced on Thursday.

"We are removing all the roadblocks - six of them, two on each road," he told the 112 Ukraine TV channel. "Observers remain, but are not stopping anyone.

"The government has eventually agreed with our demand for a commodity blockade and the decision it made, although half-hearted and vague, is by and large what we would like to see," he added, explaining the roadblocks' lifting.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced at a December 16 Cabinet session a government decision which "prohibited all supplies from Crimea to Ukraine and vice versa, except for citizens' personal belongings, socially important goods and humanitarian aid".

This was to take effect within 30 days, moving on from action in September when supporters of former Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Lenur Islyamov together with Verkhovna Rada member Mustafa Dzhemilev and leader of the Crimean Tatars in Ukraine Refat Churbarov imposed a food blockade.

This restricted goods vehicle passage through border checkpoints in a move backed by the Right Sector extremist group, banned in Russia.

Authorities of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol organized a referendum on Crimean reunification with Russia in March 2014, with residents of the Black Sea peninsula voting overwhelmingly in support.

That same month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement on Crimean accession to Russia, ratified three days later by Russia’s parliament.

Despite the referendum's convincing results, Kiev refuses to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

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