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Sports Minister Kolobkov: Cuban baseball players to get help obtaining Russian citizenship

The minister held a meeting with the Russian national team of baseball in Moscow, Cuban national Yunior Valiente is currently on the roster of the Russian squad

MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. The Russian Sports Ministry will provide the required assistance to baseball players from Cuba, who are currently playing in Russia, in obtaining the Russian citizenship, Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said on Friday.

Kolobkov held a meeting earlier in the day with the Russian national team of baseball in Moscow. Cuban national Yunior Valiente is currently on the roster of the Russian baseball squad.

"Yes, we will provide our assistance," Kolobkov told journalists when asked if the ministry would be helping foreign baseball players in obtaining the Russian citizenship in order to officially play for the national team.

"We have a certain procedure and the guys are filing applications with the [Russian Federal] Migration Service," Kolobkov continued. "We have several Cuban nationals in the team, including in the coaching staff, and they are helping our boys. They are assimilating and this is why we must help them."

"There is nothing unusual about the issue of assimilation for those, who wish to be playing for the Russian national team, no matter what the sport is," Kolobkov stated. "For all those, who think of themselves as of Russian citizens, who study the Russian language, who want to help our children with training, further development and mastering of their skills. There is nothing strange about this."

The Russian sports minister also said that the sport of baseball has all chances for the future development and progress in Russia.

"Undoubtedly, the sport of baseball is remaining for us an exotic sport in some ways," Kolbkov said speaking to the Russian national baseball team. "However, I see how much devoted all of you during your training sessions."

"You are playing a very interesting sport and I also tried playing it," he continued. "It is certainly too early to speak about putting up a competition against leading [baseball] countries, but I believe that you will be able to compete against national teams from Europe."

"I believe that you have all chances to achieve progress," Kolobkov said. "Perhaps, we will open several fields at one of the training camps. We are currently working out the program of baseball development in Russia."

The sport of baseball is on the official program of Olympic competitions and will feature next year at the Summer Olympics in Japan for the first time since 2008, bringing together top six national baseball teams.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be held in the Japanese capital of Tokyo between July 24 and August 9 and will see a total of 339 sets of medals to be contested in 33 sports (50 disciplines).