According to the Russian news agency RIA Krym, a group of "observers" arrived in Sevastopol to monitor the the Russian presidential elections in the annexed Crimea. The elections are being held on the day of the annexation of the Crimea by Russia.
"The representatives of Spain, Italy, Denmark, Ukraine, Israel, Sweden and Great Britain met with the head of the Sevastopol election committee Alexey Petukhov, the senator from Sevastopol, Olga Timofeyeva, and the deputy speaker of the local Legislative Assembly, Alexander Kulagin. Foreigners were interested in the specifics of the electoral process in the city, particularly the in the voting procedures for the Black Sea Fleet servicemen," the news outlet writes.
According to Russian media, servicemen of the Black Sea Fleet will vote in more than 30 polling stations. The representative from Italy, Marco Marsili, said that he would observe the elections in Sevastopol. "This is my first visit to the peninsula. I went here without fear, because I knew that it was absolutely safe. I've been in the Crimea for two days already and see that the situation here is peaceful and calm," RIA Krym quotes him as saying.
There are no public comments by the Ukrainian authorities on the visit of this group of foreigners to the territory of the Crimea yet.
Earlier, the head of the Die Linke party's faction in Quakenbrück's City Council, Andreas Maurer, arrived in the peninsula to observe the Russian elections.
On February 3, parliamentarians from the party Alternative for Germany visited the Crimea. Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk called the visit of several German politicians to the annexed Crimea “an irresponsible voyage". The German government also criticized the trip of a group of local politicians from the party "Alternative for Germany" to the annexed Crimea.
According to Ukrainian officials, by inviting foreign citizens to the territory of the Crimea, the Russian authorities of the peninsula are attempting to legalize its annexation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine declares that the trips of foreign politicians to the Crimea do not have official status. In July 2017, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry published an appeal warning foreign citizens and stateless persons against illegal trips to the Crimea.