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KIEV, September 26. /TASS/. Ukraine’s security service SBU has banned entry of the country for five years for two UK divers, Gary Hunt and Blake Aldridge who visited Crimea, SBU press secretary Yenela Gitlyanskaya said on Monday.
"The ban has been issued on the basis of damage inflicted on Ukraine’s interests," she said. "The ban will stay in effect for five years."
Gary Hunt and Blake Aldridge visited Crimea earlier to take part in an international competition in diving.
Cliff Diving World Cup was held in Simeiz, Crimea, in August. Hunt, one of the world’s most famous divers who has the medals at numerous national tournaments and championships and who holds the title of 2015 world champion in cliff diving, took the first place.
Andy Johns of the U.S. was second, while Artyom Silchenko of Russia and Blake Aldridge shared the third prize.
Hunt said he was quite satisfied with his success and he was ready to come to Crimea again, since this was an opportunity for people from all over the globe to try their hand in diving.
He also said that, in his understanding, sport was outside politics and that is why the possible Ukrainian sanctions did not bother them much although he was aware of the impossibility to take part in Ukrainian tournaments in the future.
Following the February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev, the authorities of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum on March 16, 2014, on reunification with Russia after sixty years under the sway of Ukraine. More than 80% of registered voters came to the polls and of that number, 96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in Sevastopol voted in favor of reunification.
On March 18, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on accession of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation, and both houses of Russian parliament ratified it on March 21.
In spite of more than convincing results of the referendum, Kiev and its outside supporters, primarily the U.S. and the EU, refuse to recognize the results of voting.