REUTERS

During a meeting with his Italian counterpart Luciana Lamorgese in Rome, Avakov thanked for Italy's clear position regarding the Italian mercenaries fighting on the side of Russian illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine.

"I am grateful to the Republic of Italy for its consistent position regarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Three Italians have already been sentenced to real terms of imprisonment for their participation in the Russian-backed illegal armed formations in Donbas, and over 20 Italian citizens, according to our information, participated in such illegal armed groups. I hope other members of terrorist organizations will also receive a fair verdict, regardless of the host country," Avakov said, according to the ministry's press service.

He emphasized that the activities of the so-called "DPR/LPR" [Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics] offices in Italy are unacceptable.

According to Avakov, such NGOs, which do not have and cannot have any official diplomatic status, may be involved in illegal and terrorist activities. In particular, the recruitment of radical militants to participate in illegal armed groups in the temporarily occupied territories.

During the meeting, the parties also discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries, in particular, on tackling cyber threats, fighting transnational crime and illegal migration.

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An agreement was reached on the exchange of experience between Ukrainian and Italian law enforcement. It is about joint training of Ukrainian police officers in Italy. In addition, the Ukrainian law enforcement officers are ready to share with their Italian colleagues the experience of the police of dialogue, combating domestic violence and countering the spread of drugs via the Internet.

It is also reported Ukraine is delegating a representative of the Interior Ministry to the embassy in Italy. This will strengthen and expand cooperation between countries in the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and illegal migration.

In turn, the Italian side positively assessed the decision to appoint Avakov as chairman of the Ukrainian part of the Ukrainian-Italian working group and expressed hope for further deepening of cooperation.

Lamorgese also thanked the doctors of the Interior Ministry who helped their Italian colleagues in the fight against COVID-19.