"It is futile to demand that Russia should leave Crimea, it will never happen…. Nobody can deny that from historic, cultural and linguistic points of view Crimea is Russian," Fillon said.
According to Fillon, two basic and contradictory principles should be taken into account when speaking about the Crimea issue: respect of borders and the right of the people to self-determination.
Fillon added that the Crimea issue can be settled with the help of a special UN-brokered international conference.
Crimea, seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March 2014, after a referendum determined that almost 97 percent of the region's population were in favor of the move. Sevastopol, which has the status of a Russian federal city, supported the reunification with 95.6 percent of votes. The referendum was held after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine. Kiev, as well as the European Union, the United States and their allies, did not recognize the move and consider the peninsula to be an occupied territory.
According to the latest OpinionWay poll, Fillon has 20 percent of projected votes for Sunday's first round of the election. He is expected to trail behind independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to receive 23 percent of votes, and far-right candidate and National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, who is projected to receive 22 percent. Far-left hopeful Jean-Luc Melenchon is forecast to receive 19 percent of votes.
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