Photo from UNIAN

Ukraine expressed strong protest over the invitation to a reception in Prague of representatives of the pseudo-Crimean Tatar organization "Qirim Birligi", which is loyal to the Kremlin, that's according to a statement released by the Ukrainian Embassy in the Czech Republic.

The diplomats noted they considered such actions as another provocation, aimed at trying to legitimize Russia's illegal actions toward attempting to annex the sovereign territory of Ukraine, as well as attempts to hinder the development of Ukrainian-Czech relations.

"Flirting with the invaders looks especially cynical at a time when the actual representative body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, remains banned in the occupied Crimea, while hundreds of Crimean Tatars are being persecuted, oppressed, arrested, tortured, and physically destroyed by the occupation authorities," the diplomats wrote.

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The Ukrainian side also called on Czech officials and state bodies to refrain in the future from any contacts with representatives of the occupation authorities and its puppet organizations.

As UNIAN reported earlier, Czech President Milos Zeman invited representatives of a low-profile Crimean Tatar organization loyal to the Kremlin to a ceremonial reception in Prague, announcing the recognition of Crimea as part of Russia.

Despite numerous enquiries, Zeman's office failed to explain why it was the pro-Putin organization "Qirim Birligi" that had been invited to the event.

At the same time, presidential spokesman Jiří Ovčáček did not deny reports that Zeman had recognized Crimea part of Russia. "People have different opinions. I survived the 1980s when we were forced to have one opinion only. I don't want these times to be back," said Ovčáček.