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23 August

Interview of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova with „Gazeta.Ru“ ahead of the the Kiev-sponsored Crimean Platform Forum

Ahead of the Kiev-sponsored Crimean Platform forum, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Gazeta.Ru about Moscow’s views on the event, the nature of Ukraine’s policy regarding the peninsula, the summit participants’ hypocrisy, and Russia’s possible response to the event.

 Gazeta.Ru: Ms Zakharova, what do you think of the level of representation at the Crimean Platform summit? From Russia’s perspective, did Kiev manage to gather noteworthy attendees?

 Maria Zakharova: Let us begin with a general assessment of the event. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has already given a concise and precise description – it’s a sabbath. I think this is the most fitting definition since the event has no other aim, other than to create the impression that Kiev is involved in the Crimean agenda, and to do so while avoiding reality as much as possible – in the most negative vein toward Russia. This is actually what the summit is all about. Thus there is no use in applying a substantive in-depth analysis to this event. Its true motives and reasons are seen and understood by everyone. Ukraine’s policy regarding Crimea, both before 2014 and afterwards, consisted of its total reluctance to hear and heed the people. Kiev did not hear the Crimeans before 2014, and after Crimea’s reunification with Russia the people continue not to be heard or given the floor when their issue is discussed. The most remarkable point is that the Kiev regime not only fails to invite Crimeans to any Crimea-related event held by Kiev but also actives does everything to prevent them from attending. The best they can do is invite, maybe even as key speakers, those persons who, at some point, for example, during the Soviet times, were related to Crimea but who have not been there for decades and are not there now. They are not involved in the public or political life on the peninsula nor linked to it any other way whatsoever. Meanwhile, those real activists, journalists, politicians, statesmen and public figures who truly live there and create today’s modern Crimea are not only not invited, they are in every way denied any opportunity to voice their stance at international platforms. We witnessed that at big events that were held, for instance, at the UN. Ukraine’s representatives do everything possible to prevent Crimeans from speaking. The same approach has been used on a number of occasions.

 Gazeta.Ru: It appears many countries support Ukraine’s approach: 14 nations will be represented at the Crimean Platform summit at the level of heads of state and government…

 Maria Zakharova: This is very indicative. We have repeatedly stated the collective West’s politicised approach to the Ukrainian issues. And again, I think it is more proof that the entire story of this get-together will not have a single thing to do with today’s Crimean realities or reality in general. Nor is it about a historical analysis of the 2014 events: there is no background, no facts, no results. Everything will be aimed at the information and political component since they are the same Western nations that do not want to learn anything about today’s Crimea. They maintain their principled approach of not being present in Crimea: they neither visit nor do they want to contact residents directly. Moreover, they do not let their tourists, journalists, companies and businesses interact with these Russian regions – Sevastopol and Crimea. Similarly, they refuse entry to their own countries by denying Crimeans EU visas. Apparently, that’s the way they punish citizens for expressing their free will.

 Gazeta.Ru: How will Russia communicate with the summit participants? With the Baltic states’ presidents and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavasoglu. We have frequent contacts with the latter.

 Maria Zakharova: All the participants are aware of our stance. The Russian side repeatedly invited them to see Crimea with their own eyes and to receive their own impression, not a biased or politically motivated one. Rather than taking part in some “platform”, which is unrelated to the Crimea agenda, they could spend their time visiting the peninsula and learning about all the aspects of its life, problems and hardships, achievements and victories. And actually learn about what and how things have transpired in these constituent entities of the Russian Federation in the past seven years. I am not even speaking that within that time it would have been possible to study all the changes in the Russian legislation which safeguard the cultural, language and religious diversity in Crimea. They could have analysed the legal aspects of Crimeans’ free will rather than immersing themselves into the mantras they keep chanting over and over. But the key is that going to Crimea proper would be much more efficient than heading to Kiev to participate in the Crimean Platform. How will they explain to their constituents that they put off many urgent state issues in order to discuss Crimea while never even visiting it, looking around, drawing their own conclusions and talking to its residents, despite being very close to Crimea? I think this is going to be a challenging task for them. Because the main question that arises is: how is it that speak about Crimea, but you have never been there? They could not be bothered to even send their ambassadors accredited to Russia or at least members of the diplomatic missions to Crimea. They deliberately, in a politically charged way, block any contacts under any pretext. Meanwhile, they claim they care about the Crimea agenda. This is hypocrisy. In view of the sanctions these countries impose under the Crimea topic, which affect people’s lives, this hypocrisy is also criminal.

Gazeta.Ru: Shall we continue the dialogue with the summit participants regardless of such behaviour? Or will there be a response: personal sanctions, summoning the ambassadors of certain countries?

Maria Zakharova: Russia will definitely make a record of these countries’ approach and will make its respective conclusions.

Gazeta.Ru: Does the Foreign Ministry have any plans to arrange an alternative to the Crimean Platform where Moscow could stand up for the rights of the Crimean people? \

Maria Zakharova: We have Crimea for that! One just needs to go there. This is a real platform for dialogue, the more so that it constantly hosts conferences and various other events. A real, not a fake Crimea Platform is in Crimea. One just needs to come to go there to understand how people live instead of pretending that the Crimea issue is important and heading to places that have nothing to do with Crimea.