MOSCOW, September 1 (RAPSI) – Attempts to impose travel restrictions on residents of Crimea by EU countries are illegitimate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday while meeting with students of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

“Attempts to limit the rights of Russian citizens who live in Crimea are illegitimate," Lavrov said. Such attempts violate obligations of the European Union countries under the European Convention on Human Rights, the minister said.

“We know to which lengths our European partners have gone to create artificial obstacles for the residents of Crimea travelling abroad. We are working actively on it,” Lavrov said.

Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking republic, was part of Russia until it was given to Ukraine by former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. President Vladimir Putin said in an official address to federal and regional officials that Khrushchev’s decision was in clear violation of the constitutional standards at the time.

On March 17, 2014, Putin signed an executive order recognizing Crimea as an independent state, following a referendum that saw voters overwhelmingly support secession from Ukraine and reunification with Russia. On March 18, Putin and the leaders of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol signed a treaty on the reunification of Crimea with Russia.

Crimea moved for independence from Ukraine after having refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government that came to power following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in February.