Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Seven hour Burkina anti-terror raid leaves four dead

Read more

THE DEBATE

From Foe to Friend? Iraq: The makeover of Muqtada al-Sadr

Read more

FOCUS

France's newest political parties go to school

Read more

ENCORE!

Hugh Coltman serves up a New Orleans-inspired musical gumbo

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

'Macron sees high earners as key to getting the French economy moving again'

Read more

IN THE PRESS

'Shut Up and Drive': Saudi's paradoxical stance after female activists arrested

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

$2.3bn for two million songs: Sony buys majority stake in EMI

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Burundi approves new constitution allowing president to extend time in power

Read more

THE DEBATE

Populist takeover: Italy approves unprecedented coalition

Read more

FOCUS

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

© FRANCE 24

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.”

By Ksenia BOLCHAKOVA , Julia LYUBOVA

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-05-22 France

France's newest political parties go to school

New arrivals on the French political scene are developing training centres to teach their campaigners how to propagate ideas and develop fieldwork skills. France's Communist...

Read more

2018-05-21 Americas

Young Nicaraguans lead protests against President Ortega

For the past month, Nicaragua has been hit by anti-government protests. The demos were sparked by unpopular social security reforms, but have now swelled into a broader...

Read more

2018-05-18 Europe

A closer look at Finland's 'open prisons'

In many countries, the prison system has become synonymous with overcrowded cells, derelict infrastructure, and repeat offenders - with jails sometimes depicted as little more...

Read more

2018-05-17 France

Video: Homophobic attacks on the rise in France

May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. In France, five years after the legalisation of same-sex marriage, homophobia seems to be getting...

Read more

2018-05-16 Europe

Workers or servants? Au pairs are vulnerable to exploitation

This week a British court is due to deliver a verdict on the murder of Sophie Lionnet, a 21-year-old French au pair allegedly tortured and killed by her host family in London....

Read more