11:17 GMT05 March 2021
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    Threats from Ukrainian authorities will not stop Europeans who want to visit Crimea or learn the truth about the lives of the locals, deputy head of the Crimean regional government Ruslan Balbek said Thursday.

    SIMFEROPOL (Sputnik) — On July 23-24, a delegation of 10 French parliamentarians visited the Crimean cities of Yalta, Simferopol and Sevastopol, where they met with local officials. The delegation concluded that life on the peninsula was normal and pointed out that Crimeans had a legal right to hold a referendum on rejoining Russia. After that, two Italian parties said they were also planning to send their delegations to Crimea.

    "If Ukraine begins searching for enemies among European lawmakers, it may soon find itself with no friends. The wish to know the truth is a natural aspiration of any politician, that’s why Ukraine will not be able to impede it anyway," Balbek said.

    Following the French delegation's visit, Kiev announced that it had called on all foreigners to follow Ukrainian legislation when planning to visit the region.

    Balbek added that political forces that were able to adequately assess the situation in Crimea were emerging in Europe. He said that, despite generally biased coverage, true information about peaceful life in Crimea could still be found in European media.

    "The more European parliamentarians see the real life in Crimea and comprehend the tremendous difference with Crimea’s image portrayed by Western media, the fewer chances Ukraine will have to impose on the international community the opinion that Russia is allegedly an aggressive and unpredictable country. Ukrainian elite feels that and that’s why it panics and acts hysterically," Balbek said.

    Crimea reunified with Russia after a referendum in March 2014, in which 96 percent voted to secede from Ukraine. Kiev and a number of Western states refuse to recognize the vote results.


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