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Astrakhan governor offers shelter to former Berkut policemen and other Ukrainians

February 27, 2014, 22:23 UTC+3 ASTRAKHAN
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ASTRAKHAN, February 27, (ITAR-TASS). The governor of Russia’s Astrakhan region, Alexander Zhilkin, has said he will give shelter to members of Ukraine’s disbanded elite Berkut anti-riot police unit and ordinary Ukrainians. He promised to provide them with housing and employment.

Deputies of the region’s Duma (legislature) voted for the governor-proposed initiative on Thursday. Local businessmen have promised to give financial support to all Ukrainians who have found themselves in a plight, the governor’s press secretary Natalya Filatova told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

“If necessary, the region is ready to accept the former Berkut policemen and their families, provide them with accommodation, give them social protection and create conditions for rehabilitation. We are even ready to provide them with employment because the region has quotas for foreign workforce,” Filatova said, adding that the governor had already informed the Russian Foreign Ministry of his decision.

She explained that businessmen in Astrakhan had already pledged financial support for Ukrainian nationals who keep arriving in Russia. So, there is no need to allocate the money from the regional budget in her view. .

Filatova said that the governor’s office had started receiving phone calls from Ukrainians and promised that all the requests would be considered without fail.

Ukraine is one of Astrakhan region’s main foreign economic partners. Close commercial, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties which Ukraine and the Astrakhan region have been building for centuries form the foundation of this partnership.

A new municipal Berkut militia unit was formed in Sevastopol, the Crimea, on Thursday after Ukraine’s Berkut anti-riot police force had been disbanded.

Dmitry Zhukov, an aide for liaison with the media at the office of the city mayor Alexei Chalyi, told Itar-Tass that the municipal militia was being formed out of Berkut officers who had recently returned from Kiev to Sevastopol.

He explained that their task was to maintain law and order in the city and avert unlawful actions, provocations, mass riots and marauding.

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