In July 2015, a group of 10 French deputies visited Crimea for the first time despite domestic and European criticism. The lawmakers said at the time that what they had seen in the region was completely different to how it was usually portrayed in Western media.
"This time around we have to choose from a lot of candidates. One half of our delegation consists of new deputies and another half — of ones that traveled to Crimea a year ago. This shows that the sanctions against Russia and sanctions promised for the parliamentarians who traveled to Crimea a year ago have absolutely no effect," Mariani said ahead of his meeting with Russian parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin.
"During our official appointment and meetings in Russia among other issues we want to speak about minorities, prisoners and mission persons," Mariani said.
According to the lawmaker, the French parliamentary delegation, while in Crimea, will meet with head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov, chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian President in the Crimean Federal District Oleg Belaventsev, the republic’s Prosecutor General Natalia Poklonskaya and with Governor of Sevastopol Sergei Menyailo.
Since 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea's reunification with Russia. Brussels, Washington and their allies have introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions since Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014 and for Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations, warning that the Western sanctions are counterproductive and undermine global stability.