Don't miss




Ireland: The forgotten Angels of Tuam

Read more


S.Africa's former President Zuma to face corruption charges

Read more


'60 Minutes' to air interview with porn actress aledging affair with Trump

Read more


In Africa, French is more than a common language

Read more


Poisoned Relations: UK sanctions Russia over nerve agent attack

Read more


Behind the scenes at France's majestic Chantilly castle

Read more

#THE 51%

#MeToo in South Korea

Read more


Russia's opposition weakened as Putin looks set for fourth term

Read more


Fantasy novelist Robin Hobb among guests at France's biggest book fair

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.”




2018-03-16 Europe

Russia's opposition weakened as Putin looks set for fourth term

On Sunday, Russians head to the polls for a presidential election. It's a contest that holds no surprises, with Vladimir Putin assured of winning a fourth term in office. Six...

Read more

2018-03-15 Americas

Haiti steps up cross-border fight against child trafficking

For the past few weeks, 120 Haitian police officers have been deployed on the bridge over the Massacre river to secure the border crossing between Haiti and the Dominican...

Read more

2018-03-14 Europe

With far right in power, Austria remembers Nazi Anschluss

This year, Austria is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Anschluss, the country's annexation by Nazi Germany. For decades Austria presented itself as a victim of Adolf...

Read more

2018-03-13 Asia-pacific

A closer look at Xi Jinping, China's new 'emperor'

Who really is Xi Jinping? Six years after becoming leader of the world's most populous country, the Chinese president remains something of a mystery. He manages his image thanks...

Read more

2018-03-12 Asia-pacific

Shadows over solar power in India

During his state visit to India, French President Emmanuel Macron, alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi, co-hosted the first meeting of the International Solar Alliance (ISA)....

Read more