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Tamila Tasheva, President Volodymyr Zelensky's permanent representative for Crimea, told Newsweek on July 16 that Ukraine will have to deal with an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 Russian citizens who came illegally to Crimea after annexation.
According to Tasheva, those who do not leave before the liberation of the peninsula will be faced with "forced expulsion."
Tasheva says Kyiv may also punish as many as 10,000 Ukrainians on the peninsula for cooperating with Russian occupation authorities.
Tasheva stressed that Ukrainian citizens living in Russian-occupied territory did not necessarily mean that they were collaborators and in such cases, Ukraine "will do everything to protect their rights."
"And there can be extenuating circumstances—many of them were victims of Russian propaganda, of intimidation and threats, of the Russian legal system, and even the Russian culture and language. All of that needs to be taken into consideration," Tasheva added.
The appropriate legal framework is being considered to punish those Ukrainians who have actively been aiding Russian occupation authorities, Tasheva explained.
Russia staged a sham referendum in 2014 to annex the Crimean Peninsula. It has been used as a military base by Russian forces.