The European Union deliberately restricts Crimean residents' freedom of travel by obstructing the issuance of Schengen visas to them, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
"By creating obstacles to the issuance of visas to Crimeans, the European Union pursues a policy to deliberately restrict the right of residents of the peninsula to free travel," the ministry said in a commentary posted on its website on Monday.
Lukashevich said Russia sees the approach adopted by the EU as "unjustified collective punishment for residents of the peninsula, whose fate and rights the EU is so 'concerned' about."
"In the meanwhile, the EU prefers to ignore the fact that the said discriminatory measures equally affect all residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, including people of Greek, German, Italian other ethnic origins," the Russian diplomat said.
Lukashevich called the statements that are regularly made by various statesmen, public figures and politicians in the EU countries who are "concerned" about violations of human rights, primarily of Crimean Tatars, in Crimea and Sevastopol, "demagoguery".
"During contacts with EU officials and EU countries, we regularly point to this obvious violation of the rights of the people of Crimea to freedom of travel, which is caused by the hypocritical policies of the partners. However, unfortunately we currently see no progress in their position yet," Lukashevich said.
Lukashevich said the EU countries have closed their consular missions and visa centers in Crimea after they failed to recognize the reunion of Crimea and Sevastopol and Russia and visa documents are currently only accepted in consular establishments located on the territory of Ukraine.
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