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ST. PETERSBURG, March 03, /ITAR-TASS/. The former members of Ukraine’s disbanded elite Berkut anti-riot police unit will be able to serve in police in St. Petersburg when they become citizens of Russia, Vyacheslav Stepchenko, the head of the information and public relations department of the Russian Interior Ministry for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, told Itar-Tass on Monday.
“We will be able to give this opportunity to them,” he said.
The Russian Interior Ministry’s regional branches have pledged to enlist persons who have fled Ukraine, including the former policemen, to the Russian police force.
Representatives of Ukrainian communities in St. Petersburg told Itar-Tass that a large group of the former Berkut officers might arrive in the city soon.
“So far we do not have the exact information how many people are ready to resettle to St. Petersburg, but negotiations are under way,” Alexander Bliznyuk, the head of the St. Petersburg public movement Heritage, said.
The fate of the former Berkut fighters has not left other Russian regions indifferent.
Nikita Belykh, the governor of Russia’s Kirov region, said on Monday the region was ready to accept the former Berkut members and their families if a decision was made at the federal level.
Russia’s southern Astrakhan region is another place in Russia where the former Berkut officers can hope to find refuge. Governor of Russia’s Astrakhan region, Alexander Zhilkin, has pledged to accept the disbanded unit’s members in the region’s territory and provide them with housing and employment.
In the meanwhile, the Russian General Consulate in Simferopol received instructions to start issuing Russian passports to the former members of the disbanded Berkut anti-riot police unit.
The Berkut anti-riot unit had 4,000-5,000 members stationed across Ukraine and is blamed for the death of protesters in Kiev.