Don't miss




North-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri attacked by child bombers

Read more


Putin's New Front: Airstrikes in Syria catch West off guard [part 1]

Read more


Video: Farmers living in fear in South Africa

Read more


Sharing economy: A new French revolution

Read more

#TECH 24

Taking a closer look at technology in the classroom

Read more


Growing concerns over China's industrial safety shortcomings

Read more

#THE 51%

Does the Middle East need a sexual revolution?

Read more


South Africa: Anti-corruption protesters take to the streets

Read more


Searching for answers to the Holocaust with Martin Amis

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.



Latest update : 2014-08-26

Far-right ‘Russian Jihad’ fighters cross into Ukraine


Since the beginning of the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, Moscow has repeatedly denied sending troops or weapons to help the rebels.

Nevertheless, many Russian fighters have crossed the border into Ukraine to fight what they call “Kiev’s fascist junta”.

Recruited by far-right nationalist movements, these men are ideologically driven to fight what has been nicknamed “the Russian Jihad”.

FRANCE 24 joined a group of these would-be fighters as they headed for the combat zone.

‘Russian imperialist nationalists’

Evgeny Mazepin is a recruiter for the self-styled “Russian Volunteer battalion”.

He works out of an office in the city of Voronezh, 500km south of Moscow and 150km from the Ukrainian border.

“Ideologically we are all Russian imperialist nationalists, descendants of the White Guard,” he explains, in reference to the anti-communist forces that waged a civil war against the Bolsheviks in the years immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution.

“Every day we receive about 10 applications from candidates who want to join the battalion,” he says. “Our aim is to liberate the land we call Novorossiya – New Russia – and its Russian people from the enemy, the Kiev junta.”

Novorussia was the 18th and 19th century name for the region of Imperial Russia that now comprises Ukraine.

‘Mentally I am ready to die’

FRANCE 24 talks to a group of the battalion’s volunteers heading for the border and into Ukraine. Among them is a Russian calling himself Norman.

“I'm a nationalist and my priority is protecting the Russian people,” he told FRANCE 24. “Despite what many in Ukraine think, the Russian state is not involved in this mission. If Russia was involved, this war would have been over in four days.”

The group head for Luhansk, in Eastern Ukraine, with food and other supplies for their comrades across the border.

On arrival in Ukraine, they are each handed an AK47 rifle and a few magazines’ of ammunition, and waited at a camp for orders to join the fight.

“Mentally, I am ready to die,” says Norman. “This war will be won by our sacrifice.”

“For me this territory is Russian, the communists gave it away unfairly,” he argues, referring to a decision by Stalin’s successor Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 to cede parts of Russian territory, including the Crimean peninsula, to Ukraine.

“This land must be returned to the Russian people.”




2015-10-02 China

Growing concerns over China's industrial safety shortcomings

Six weeks after gigantic explosions rocked the Chinese port town of Tianjin, killing over 170 people, reconstruction is under way. While authorities have vowed to thoroughly...

Read more

2015-10-01 Syria

‘Priority is defeating IS group’, say French MPs in Syria

French officials say Bashar al-Assad has no role in Syria’s future, but that did not stop a group of French MPs from meeting his representatives in Syria last week. Our reporters...

Read more

2015-09-30 Denmark

Denmark: Ten years after cartoons controversy, is freedom of speech in jeopardy?

It's been 10 years since the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, provoking riots across the Muslim world and changing...

Read more

2015-09-29 Canada

Canada's oil sands blues

Canada's rich deposits of oil sands prompted a massive industrial boom just a few years ago when prices were high. But now with the oil price languishing at much lower levels,...

Read more

2015-09-28 United Nations

Behind the scenes at the UN General Assembly

Here's a question for you: what links Vladimir Putin, popstar Shakira and Ban Ki-moon? The answer is the United Nations General Assembly. All three have attended the "can't-miss"...

Read more