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MOSCOW. Nov 16 (Interfax) - Russia's permanent envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has proposed setting up a "Slav battalion," a Russian armed forces unit to be made up from volunteers from other Slav countries such as Serbia or Bulgaria, and has taken up the idea with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.
"I can't rule out that it would make sense to consider including units in the armed forces consisting of people who are not citizens of the Russian Federation," Rogozin told reporters on Wednesday. "I have discussed this with the defense minister."
The envoy said the proposed battalion could be modeled on the French Foreign Legion. "Why can't we set up, for example, a similar 'Slav battalion' from among Serbs, Bulgarian and other nationals, people who would have liked to serve in the Russian armed forces?" he said.
Members of the battalion would eventually be eligible for Russian citizenship, Rogozin said.
"I don't think it's a bad idea," he said.
Earlier, he put the proposal before a congress of Homeland-Congress of Russian Communities, a group of which he is the informal leader.
The "Slav battalion" idea is one of the proposals that Homeland-Congress of Russian Communities handed over to the leadership of the United Russia party. The proposals were discussed recently at meetings of United Russia clubs.