17:14 May. 13, 2016
Delegates claim they disagree with Europe's position on status of peninsula
An Italian delegation arrived in Russian-occupied Crimea on Friday, May 13. The group consisting of several senators, a member of parliament and a journalist announced they would stay on the peninsula for three days.
As part of their visit, the delegates laid flowers at the Italian cemetery near the city of Sevastopol. According to Russian media reports, the Italians also held a meeting with the self-proclaimed local authorities.
Read also: Italian MPs to visit occupied Crimea
The visit which follows in the footsteps of Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi who came to the Russian-occupied peninsula last year takes a blow at the official position of the Italian government and the E.U both of which do not recognise Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.
"It's a friendly visit. We want to demonstrate our disagreement with Europe on the status of Crimea", said journalist Giulietto Chiesa who is part of the Italian delegation .
The senators also claimed the E.U. must lift all the sanctions imposed on Russia due to its participation in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
"A lot of our businessmen had good economic relations with Russia. Now they have to close down. The sanctions have seriously affected our country", Italian senator Paola De Pin stated.
During the last two years, Crimea was visited several times by left-wing European politicians, allegedly financed by the Kremlin. In 2015, a French delegation, led by country's MP Thierry Mariani, arrived on the peninsula.
The E.U. condemned the visit; Mariani was asked to step down from his position as a PACE member. The European Union called on its members to respect the international law and refrain from visiting Crimea until it was returned to Ukraine.