Ukraine authorities will try to block former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev from entering Europe after he said that he approved of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko.
Earlier on Sunday, Britain’s The Sunday Times daily released an interview with the former Soviet leader in which he voiced approval of the 2014 referendum that resulted in Crimea voting to leave Ukraine for Russia.
“We will reach out to our European partners through diplomatic channels to make sure he [Gorbachev] is not welcome in Europe and that his foundation that ignites hate between Russia and Ukraine doesn’t get investment”, Gerashchenko, a Verkhovna Rada deputy, told Govorit Moskva radio.
Gorbachev told the newspaper that he is “always with the free will of the people and most in Crimea wanted to be reunited with Russia”. He also said that tense relations between Russia and the West can be explained by the United States’ arrogance in the post-Soviet period.
He accused Washington of being too enraptured with the “we won the Cold War,” and “now we’re the boss of the world” idea. He also accused the US of having no interest in helping Russia develop into a stable and strong democracy in the post-Cold War era.
During the March 2014 referendum, more than 96 percent of Crimean residents voted in favor of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. The majority of Crimea’s population self-identifies as ethnically Russian and speaks Russian as a first language. The peninsula was part of Russia until Nikita Khrushchev transferred control of the region to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954, less than a year after becoming leader of the Soviet Union.
Kiev continues to consider Crimea a “temporarily occupied territory,” a stance that is supported by a number of Western countries. Moscow, in turn, insists that Crimea’s reunification with Russia took place in full accordance with international law.