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Ukraine says Moscow mayor had no authority to comment on Crimea

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The Ukrainian Security Service and the Foreign Minister said Wednesday that Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is heading a delegation to the country, had no authority to comment on Ukraine's foreign policy and territorial integrity.
KIEV, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Ukrainian Security Service and the Foreign Minister said Wednesday that Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is heading a delegation to the country, had no authority to comment on Ukraine's foreign policy and territorial integrity.

Opening the House of Moscow in Sevastopol, Crimea, last Wednesday, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said that the Crimea's separation from Russia "left a deep, unhealed wound in the Russian people." He promised to continue helping the Russian naval base in the Crimea, which would involve cooperation with the entire peninsula.

The press service for the Security Service of Ukraine said a legal evaluation of the statements made by the Moscow delegation is currently being conducted, and that an appropriate decision will be made based on the results of the evaluation.

In line with Ukrainian law on the status of foreigners in the country, a violator can be held administratively responsible or be pronounced persona non grata in the interests of national security and public order.

The Crimean Autonomy on the Black Sea, which has a predominantly ethnic Russian population, had been Russian territory until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ceded it to Ukraine in 1954. The peninsula has since remained a Ukrainian autonomy, but has resisted the Western-leaning policies of the central authorities.

Ukraine's acting foreign minister, Volodymyr Ohryzko, said Luzhkov's statements had been interpreted as interference in Ukraine's domestic affairs and an attempt to undermine friendly bilateral relations.

He said law enforcement officials were looking into whether the comments broke any Ukrainian laws.

"Yury Luzhkov allowed himself to publicly question the status of the Crimean Peninsula," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's press service said.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said, in turn: "I don't understand what all the fuss is about," adding that Luzhkov's visit to the Crimea "...is a positive signal for cooperation between our countries."

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