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News 25 Jul 17

Ukraine Threatens Kusturica with Ban over Crimea Visit

Ukraine threatened to prosecute and ban famous Serbian film-maker Emir Kusturica from its territory after he visited Crimea and praised the Russian takeover of the peninsula.

BIRN
Belgrade
Emir Kusturica. Photo: Beta

The Ukrainian embassy in Belgrade sent an open letter to Kusturica on Tuesday, warning that anyone who breaches the country’s Law on Temporarily Occupied Territories by visiting Russian-annexed Crimea will be prosecuted.

“One of the punishments for a breach of the law is a ban on entering Ukrainian territory for a five-year period,” the embassy said in the letter.

On July 23, Kusturica held a concert in Yalta on the Crimea peninsula with his band, No Smoking Orchestra.

Ahead of the concert, he stated that the unification of Crimea and Russia was a “natural, organic process” and called on citizens of Crimea to develop the peninsula as a “part of great Russia”.

The embassy said that it regretted the fact that Kusturica “supported the aggressor, Russia”, adding that 11,000 people, including famous artists, have died during the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Kusturica was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Russia moved to annex Crimea in 2014, after a disputed referendum in which people voted that the Ukrainian peninsula should join Russia.

Both Ukraine and the West regard the referendum as illegal, and the annexation as Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.

In its letter, the Ukrainian embassy added that Kiev still staunchly supports Belgrade over Kosovo policy and has not recognised Pristina’s declaration of independence.

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