“Viva Crimea!”: Italians defy sanctions on momentous Crimea visit

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October 15, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 

RT – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

Italian politicians and businessmen’s ongoing visit to Crimea is “a form of protest of the northern regions [of Italy] against the Renzi government’s policies,” which has approved new sanctions against Russia under EU pressure. Such is the opinion of the visit’s organizer, Stefano Valdegamberi. Valdegamberi stated to L’indro: “These sanctions are causing enormous damage to the economy of Italy’s northern regions, and calls for them to be lifted are not heard because of the climate of Russophobia.”

“Now the wind of a cold war between Russia and the US is stronger than ever, and a new ‘page’ in this ‘crisis book’ is being written in the chapter on sanctions,” the journal L’indro wrote on the topic of the delegation of Italian politicians and businessmen currently visiting Crimea. 

The head of Russia’s State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Leonid Slutskiy, believes that the Italian delegation’s Crimea visit is a fatal blow to the logic of the anti-Russian sanctions. The deputy told journalists on October 14th: “This is a momentous visit which is completely destroying the logic of Western economic sanctions against Russia.”

In addition to parliamentarians, the peninsula is being visited by Italian businessmen who are already holding specific negotiations on cooperation in the trade, economic, scientific, technological, and cultural spheres. 

“This is a dignified response to the ideologists of the anti-Russian sanctions who desire to ‘tear our economy to shreds’ and achieve the isolation of the Russian Federation. We attach great importance to this visit and hope that it will provide a good basis for business cooperation between Crimea and Italy’s regions,” Slutsky emphasized.

18 parliamentarians and businessmen from five Italian regions (Veneto, Liguria, Lombardy, Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna) arrived in Crimea on Friday, October 14th. The delegation’s working program began with a visit to the monument to the “polite people” on Republic Square in Simferopol. The Italian deputies were told the history of the origin of the term “polite people” and then chanted “Viva Crimea!” around the monument. 

The Italian delegation was then received in the Council of Ministers by the head of the republic, Sergey Aksenov. During the meeting, the two sides signed a memorandum on making Crimean Simferopol and Italian Padua twin cities, which was agreed upon by the head of Simferopol’s city administration, Gennady Bakharev, and the municipal representative of Padua who came with the delegation.

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Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov stressed that this visit by such a representative delegation “allows the myth that the referendum in Crimea was held under gunpoint to be dispelled.” However, he noted that the visit is more significant for business than politics.

“The Italian delegation’s visit is important not only from a political point of view, but also has an entirely practical, specific dimension. In particular, it is important for us to establish cooperation with Italian business representatives who have extensive experience in the fields of water purification, agricultural technology manufacturing, farming, and animal feed,” the head of the republic wrote on his Facebook page. 

Aksenov also expressed hope that, upon visiting the Massandra wine association, the Italians would be interested in collaboration with Crimean wineries.

Over the past year, the peninsula has been visited by parliamentarians from several European countries. In late July, a delegation of French parliamentarians headed by the French National Assembly deputy Thierry Mariani visited Crimea. During the visit, Mariani expressed the opinion that if Crimea had not joined Russia, then the region would have been gripped by military hostilities like Donbass. 

In December 2015, Ukrainian authorities reported that Kiev was opening criminal proceedings against a number of European politicians due to their “illegal” visit to the peninsula, which Ukraine still believes to be occupied by Russia.

In March 2014, Crimea became a part of Russia after the overwhelming majority of the region’s citizens voted in a referendum on the issue. Kiev and a number of Western countries continue to consider the peninsula Ukrainian territory. 

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