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Vladimir Chizhov

Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union

MOSCOW, March 31, /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union's attitude toward the events in Ukraine is becoming more objective, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Monday on the Rossiya 24 television channel.

“The situation is certainly changing. We can say that the picture is becoming a bit more balanced, though it still remains rather one-sided,” Chizhov said. “Europe can’t ignore the actions of extremists and radicals in Ukraine any longer.”

“The latest actions of the Right Sector, an attempt to seize the building of the Verkhovna Rada [parliament], forced EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to speak with a special statement condemning these actions,” the diplomat said.

About 2,000 activists from the Right Sector, a far-right Ukrainian organization, on March 27 gathered in front of the building of the Ukrainian unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in Kiev. Activists smashed windows in the building, causing lawmakers to leave it.

The storm followed the killing of Right Sector coordinator ultranationalist Alexander Muzychko (Sashko Bily), wanted by Russia for torture and killings of Russian soldiers in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya in 1994-2000, in a special operation by Ukrainian law enforcers in western Ukraine on March 25.

Right Sector activists had reportedly been involved in deadly clashes with police in Ukraine’s anti-government protests that eventually led to last month's coup in the country.

On March 5, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh with using media to make public calls for terrorist and extremist activity. Moscow’s Basmanny Court sanctioned his arrest in absentia.

Chizhov said the business community of European countries is negative about the idea to impose economic sanctions on Russia.

“I have met with representatives of companies who had long been working on the Russian market. They state that they have been here long and are not going to leave. They voiced an interesting opinion - if the EU imposes sanctions, Russia will not even need to impose sanctions in response as the EU’s economy will suffer a lot,” he said.

“As regards attempts to frighten [Russia] with sanctions that they will either impose or not, I believe that this ‘play on nerves’ is part of an information war. This trick is easy to calculate,” Chizhov concluded.

Whipping up tensions around Transdniestria fraught with consequences

Tensions around the situation in Transdniestria are being whipped up deliberately to divert attention of the international community from the situation in Ukraine, Russian Permanent Representative at the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said on Monday, adding that such tactics were fraught with unpredictable consequences.

“I see that over the entire period of the Ukrainian crisis attempts have been made both from Kiev and from outside to shift the focus,” he told the Russia 24 news channel. “At first, when acts of lawlessness were committed in Kiev and in Ukraine’s eastern cities, these forces managed to shift the focus to Crimea. But the situation there developed differently. Now, the situation in Crimea looks clear but another bugbear has emerged - the alleged concentration of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine. I think the recent inspections have convincingly demonstrated the groundlessness of these fears. It looks like Transdiestria is another such bugbear alleging that Ukraine is to be followed by Transdniestria. They say it also had a referendum and Transdniestria’s majority spoke for parting from Moldova as far back as 2006.”

The Russian diplomat reminded that the Transdiestrian status was the subject of negotiations in the 5+2 format and Ukraine was a participant in that format among others. “But along with it we see economic blockade of Transdniestria, of which Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke during his conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Chizhov noted. “Transdniestria is a rather narrow strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova. The economically developed part of the former Moldovan Soviet Republic is now living through economic hardships.”

“The path of heightening tension may be fraught with unpredictable consequences,” the Russian diplomat warned.

NATO’s statements that Russia is keeping “very many Russian troops in a state of very high readiness” on the Ukrainian border are no more than “scary stories”, Chizhov told.

American Senator John McCain’s statements that the world now has to closely watch Russia’s actions with regard to Moldova are “a characteristic example” of stove-piping, he said.

“We hear the same from the NATO military commanders, when their supreme commander says that very many Russian troops have been amassed on the Ukrainian border and they are in a state of very high combat readiness. Such a scary story,” Chizhov said.

He recalled that when he had advised American politicians to “watch Alaska”, it was just a joke.

Chizhov stressed that the countries which have the most developed trade and economic ties with Russia want these relations to develop further and not to be affected by sanctions.

“It’s not only about energy supplies - oil and gas - even though we should say frankly that this is a big part of Russian export. But while supplying oil and gas to EU countries, we buy their machinery and equipment, durables and a wide range of other goods. So trade is a mutual thing,” the diplomat said.

“Those who demand punishment for Russia live in a different world, in a world of political constructions and I would even say political illusions,” he said.

“It’s very regrettable that in the 21st century - and we are reminded all the time that we are living in the 21st century - geopolitical considerations begin to prevail over the values for the sake of which all the efforts are taken - over respect for human rights as we can see in Crimea and eastern regions of Ukraine, over the freedom of mass media when assessments of the Kiev authorities’ decision to turn off Russian television channels change diametrically within a matter of several days, and over the economy. That’s real life. All the rest is immaterial,” Chizhov said.

EU makes no special decisions on visas for residents of Crimea

The European Union has so far not adopted any special decisions on how visas will be issued to citizens of Russia living in Crimea, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said.

He said Russia was watching the situation and would respond appropriately.

“The European Union does have the so-called visa code that entered into force in 2010. It says that visas are issued at the place of permanent residence. But I think this is a political issue rather than consular,” Chizhov told Rossiya 24 television on Monday, March 31.

“The EU has adopted no special decisions thus far. We are closely watching the discussion in the working groups and will respond appropriately,” he said.

“EU consulates in Ukraine can affix visas into Russian or any other passports as well. But it is unlikely that residents of Crimea will want to go to Ukraine to get a visa and some simply won’t be able to do that. We do not know what kind of regime the Ukrainian authorities will create for the movement of people between Crimea and Ukraine,” Chizhov said.

He believes that visa issues can be solved with EU countries on a bilateral basis.


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