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EU’s attitude toward Ukraine events gradually changing - Russian ambassador

MOSCOW, March 31, /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union's attitude toward the events in Ukraine is becoming more objective, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Monday on the Rossiya 24 television channel.

“The situation is certainly changing. We can say that the picture is becoming a bit more balanced, though it still remains rather one-sided,” Chizhov said. “Europe can’t ignore the actions of extremists and radicals in Ukraine any longer.”

“The latest actions of the Right Sector, an attempt to seize the building of the Verkhovna Rada [parliament], forced EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to speak with a special statement condemning these actions,” the diplomat said.

About 2,000 activists from the Right Sector, a far-right Ukrainian organization, on March 27 gathered in front of the building of the Ukrainian unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in Kiev. Activists smashed windows in the building, causing lawmakers to leave it.

The storm followed the killing of Right Sector coordinator ultranationalist Alexander Muzychko (Sashko Bily), wanted by Russia for torture and killings of Russian soldiers in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya in 1994-2000, in a special operation by Ukrainian law enforcers in western Ukraine on March 25.

Right Sector activists had reportedly been involved in deadly clashes with police in Ukraine’s anti-government protests that eventually led to last month's coup in the country.

On March 5, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh with using media to make public calls for terrorist and extremist activity. Moscow’s Basmanny Court sanctioned his arrest in absentia.

Chizhov said the business community of European countries is negative about the idea to impose economic sanctions on Russia.

“I have met with representatives of companies who had long been working on the Russian market. They state that they have been here long and are not going to leave. They voiced an interesting opinion - if the EU imposes sanctions, Russia will not even need to impose sanctions in response as the EU’s economy will suffer a lot,” he said.

“As regards attempts to frighten [Russia] with sanctions that they will either impose or not, I believe that this ‘play on nerves’ is part of an information war. This trick is easy to calculate,” Chizhov concluded.

Ukraine is in political turmoil. Violent anti-government protests, which started in November 2013 when the country suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, resulted in a coup in February 2014.

President Viktor Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns last month. New people were brought to power amid riots in Ukraine in February. Russia does not recognize the new Ukrainian authorities.

The Ukrainian crisis deepened when the Republic of Crimea, which does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities in Kiev either, signed a treaty with the Russian Federation to become its constituent member on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly stated that the Crimean referendum was in full conformity with the international law and the UN Charter, and also in line with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008.

Despite that, Ukraine’s new authorities and the West have denounced the Crimean plebiscite claiming it was illegal, and have refused to recognize Crimea part of Russia. Western countries even moved further, imposing sanctions on some Russian officials, but Moscow responded tit for tat.

The West has threatened Russia with new economic sanctions unless Moscow changes its foreign policy.