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MOSCOW, August 1 /TASS/. Thierry Mariani, a French National Assembly deputy from the Republicans party and a co-chairman of the Franco-Russian dialogue who visited Crimea last week together with a delegation of French lawmakers, put sharp-tongued Ukrainian journalist in place at a news conference held at TASS on Monday.
When asked how much Russia had paid him for his pro-Russian stance on Crimea, Mariani replied, "I object your question. I am ready to answer any political questions and comment on any political remarks but your question is really disgusting."
"And how much are you paid for asking such questions?" Mariani told the journalist who actually accused the French deputy of accepting bribes from Russia.
"The fact that you can ask such disgraceful questions here in Russia means that Russia is a free country. What makes your question even more disgusting is that I would have been unable to ask any of such questions if we had stayed in Ukraine," the French politician said.
He added he would be more determined to visit Crimea in future.
Eleven deputies of the French National Assembly paid a three-day visit to Crimea on July 29-31 for the second time after Crimea’s reunification with Russia on March 2014. Thierry Mariani headed the French delegation like a year ago.
The visit took place despite objections from the French Foreign Ministry.
Half of the delegation visited the peninsula last year. But it also included six newcomers who had never been to Crimea before, including Michel Voisin, the head of the French delegation at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Last summer, a group of 10 deputies and senators of the French National Assembly (parliament) visited Crimea despite strong objections from the French Foreign Ministry. They were the first West European lawmakers to visit the peninsula after its reunification with Russia. That trip produced a negative reaction in the West. Ukraine declared the entire French delegation persona non grata.