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Ukraine to Sanction French MPs Who Visited Crimea

  • Will likely pass entry bans against them
  • Kiev insists visitors to Crimea must seek a Ukraine visa and cross over to the peninsula from Ukraine-controlled territory

KIEV, July 29 (TASS) - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demands a ban on travels to Ukraine for the French parliamentarians who have recently visited Crimea, spokesperson Maryana Betsa told a briefing on Wednesday.

"Our ministry has appealed to competent agencies (Security Council) of Ukraine demanding an entry ban on the French deputies who visited Crimea in violation of law," she said.

She said it was necessary "to coordinate any trips to the autonomy with the Ukrainian authorities". "The Foreign Ministry sent a note to all countries on the procedure of travels to and from Crimea. All foreign citizens must stick to the legislation of Ukraine, rules of international law, as well as coordinate any trips to the occupied territory with the Ukrainian authorities," Betsa said.

On July 23-24, a delegation of French MPs visited Crimea. Head of the delegation Thierri Mariani said the purpose of the trip was to see with their own eyes what was happening in Crimea.

This was the first visit of Western European parliamentarians to Crimea and Sevastopol since March 2014, when Crimea reunited with Russia after a referendum.

After the trip, French deputies said the West should lift sanctions against Russia and recognize Crimea as a Russian region.

"Crimea is an absolutely peaceful region," said Claude Goasguen, a member of the French National Assembly representing Paris. "Crimea residents cannot be criticized for the fact that there is no war on their territory. They cannot be criticized for the fact that the referendum resulted in peace."

"They say that the Crimean authorities had no legal power to hold a referendum. Of course, they did! The coup in Ukraine was carried out not by Crimea residents, but by the Maidan authorities! I support peace and I am happy that it reigns in Crimea. I favor the resumption of dialogue between Russia and France," Goasguen said.

The Crimean authorities held a referendum on March 16, 2014 on local residents’ attitude to Crimea’s reunification with Russia. With a record turnout of over 80%, 96.7% of Crimean residents and 95.6% of electors living in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol voted for the Black Sea peninsula’s reintegration into Russia.

Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, despite the referendum’s convincing results.

Crimea used to be part of Russia from 1784 until 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev handed it over to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in a voluntarist act. Crimea remained part of independent Ukraine after the USSR collapsed in 1991.

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