MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The French Foreign Ministry mounted a great deal of pressure on lawmakers due to arrive in Crimea later today, speaker of the Russian lower house of parliament, Sergei Naryshkin, said Thursday, adding that he was surprised by this turn of events.
"I know that the Foreign Ministry of France piled a serious amount of pressure on the members of the delegation. I find it surprising and strange," Naryshkin said at a meeting with the ten French lawmakers in Moscow.
The speaker thanked the delegates, headed by Thierry Mariani, for finding the courage to follow through on their decision.
"In doing this, you defend the values and ideals of democracy and parliamentarism," he added.
The French lawmakers said they had decided to make the trip to Crimea to get a sense of what is really going on in the Black Sea peninsula following its secession from Ukraine in March 2014. Both the French and Ukrainian governments have condemned the trip, considering it to be a breach of international law.