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Separatist Commander 'Strelkov' Bans Cursing


An Orthodox priest blesses pro-Russian separatist commander Igor Strelkov (left) during a religious service in the eastern city of Donetsk on July 10.

An Orthodox priest blesses pro-Russian separatist commander Igor Strelkov (left) during a religious service in the eastern city of Donetsk on July 10.

With the Ukrainian army making gains against pro-Russian separatists, the leader of the rebels has issued an urgent order.

Stop cursing.

"We call ourselves an Orthodox Christian army," Igor Girgkin says in the decree. And besides, "Foul words do not have a Russian origin and were used by Russia's enemies for the desecration of holy places."

Girkin, who goes by the nom-de-guerre Strelkov, or "Shooter," has told reporters that he served in the Russian Security Service until March 2013.

Kyiv says he is working for Russian military intelligence and was sent to Ukraine to stir discord. He has been accused of ordering abductions and executions.

Whether separatist fighters -- who appear to be retreating to the rebel stronghold of Donetsk as the Ukrainian army advances -- will follow Girkin's order is an open question, but some who have reported on the men appear dubious.

Girkin, though, is emphatic.

Apparently tying cursing to Ukrainian, Girkin closes the decree by claiming it is "forbidden to use the Russian language of the enemy soldier. It demeans us spiritually and leads an army to defeat."

-- Glenn Kates

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