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Italian regional council adopts resolution on Crimea, anti-Russian sanctions

The resolution was not legally binding
Palazzo Balbi (right), the seat of the Regional Council of the Veneto EPA/JOCHEN A. KRAUSE
Palazzo Balbi (right), the seat of the Regional Council of the Veneto

ROME, May 18. /TASS/. A resolution urging Italy’s government to recognize Crimea’s status and to get the European Union to lift sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis was passed with a majority of votes at the local council of Italy’s northern Veneto region on Wednesday, Luciano Sandona, a member of the council and an author of the resolution, told TASS.

Sandona said the resolution was not legally compulsory but had a profound political effect.

"It constitutes an expression of the will of such significant Italian region as Veneto," he said. "The Italian government should insist that sanctions should be immediately removed from Russia and economic ties should be restored in full."

Besides, the Italian government was urged "to condemn and reject EU policy against Crimea subjected to unfair discrimination." "The peninsula residents’ will expressed in the referendum should be recognized," the resolution said.

Veneto’s President Luca Zaia, a member of the Northern League opposition political party, has repeatedly called for lifting sanctions from Russia. Veneto is the wealthiest and rich in history and culture region in Italy, encompassing Venice.

Sandona said that in the foreseeable future the region was planning to put some ideas into practice so as to strengthen ties with Russia and to develop cooperation with Crimea.

"Prime Minister Matteo Renzi seeks to remove some powers from local authorities," he said. "The Northern League has always stood up for federalism and more independence for Veneto. The resolution should send a significant signal to the government."

Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

On March 11, 2014 Crimea’s Supreme Council and Sevastopol’s city council adopted a declaration announcing independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, including the Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol. On March 16 more than 82% of the electorate took part in the referendum, when 96.77% in the Republic of Crimea and 95.6% in Sevastopol backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favor of reuniting with Russia.

On March 18, the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia was signed.

Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticized by Western leaders and at the United Nations that alongside Ukraine refused to recognize the referendum was legitimate.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean region, along with Sevastopol, to Ukraine's jurisdiction.