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US condemns Russian elections in Crimea

A picture taken on September 10, 2016 in the main Crimean city of Simferopol shows people walking next to an election billboard for the United Russia party with a portrait of Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov. Two-and-a-half years after Moscow annexed the strategic peninsula from Ukraine, residents are gearing up to vote Sunday in their first polls to elect deputies to Russia's national parliament. The ballot in Crimea -- not recognised by Kiev or the international community -- looks set to bind the region still closer to Moscow as the new pro-Kremlin elite cements its grip and opposition is silenced. PHOTO: VASILY MAXIMOV / AFP

A picture taken on September 10, 2016 in the main Crimean city of Simferopol shows people walking next to an election billboard for the United Russia party with a portrait of Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov. Two-and-a-half years after Moscow annexed the strategic peninsula from Ukraine, residents are gearing up to vote Sunday in their first polls to elect deputies to Russia’s national parliament. The ballot in Crimea — not recognised by Kiev or the international community — looks set to bind the region still closer to Moscow as the new pro-Kremlin elite cements its grip and opposition is silenced. PHOTO: VASILY MAXIMOV / AFP

The United States “does not recognize the legitimacy” of upcoming Russian parliamentary elections planned for Crimea, the State Department said Friday.

“The United States does not recognize the legitimacy, and will not recognize the outcome, of the Russian Duma elections planned for Russian-occupied Crimea on September 18th,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby in a statement.

Two-and-a-half years after Moscow annexed the strategic peninsula from Ukraine, residents are gearing up to vote Sunday in their first polls to elect deputies to Russia’s national parliament.

“Our position on Crimea is clear: the peninsula remains an integral part of Ukraine,” Kirby said. “Crimea-related sanctions against Russia will remain until Russia returns control of Crimea to Ukraine.”

The US State Department also expressed concern “about the humanitarian situation in Crimea, including the status of the ethnic Tatar community and widespread reports of missing persons and human rights abuses.”

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