SEVASTOPOL (Sputnik) — On Friday, a group of 11 French lawmakers headed by Mariani started its three-day trip to Crimea, the second visit since last July.
"We all face the elections next year, and I strongly hope I will be reelected and will come back to Crimea with a larger delegation," Mariani told journalists.
He added, that every lawmaker from the delegation will tell the voters, that "Crimea is Russian and it will never change". Western media report other stances, but that is because people with these views have never been to Crimea, he noted.
"After the first visit to [Crimea] some of colleagues came under oppressive campaigns, were stripped of posts. Now I understand very well why it happened: someone wants to stifle a desire to visit Crimea," he said.
Russia's historical southern region of Crimea rejoined Russia after a 2014 referendum in which over 96 percent of the Crimean population voted in favor of reunification. Sevastopol, which has a federal city status, supported the move by 95.6 percent of the votes.