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Dozens of Chechens are camping in Belarus at the border with Poland, complaining that they are "refugees" who are being prevented from entering the EU-member country by Polish authorities.

The group of Russian citizens from the Chechnya region include children, women, and elderly people. They reached the border checkpoint in the countryside near Brest on August 29 and set up camp after being refused entry into Poland.

Members of the group told RFE/RL that they will not leave their campsite until they receive an official decision from the government in Warsaw -- one way or another -- about their request to enter the European Union.

A Russian consulate official in Brest, Igor Koryakin, arrived at the border camp on August 30 to speak with the group.

Hundreds of citizens from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya have gathered in Brest in recent months with hopes of crossing into the EU and gaining asylum.

Some have told RFE/RL that the increase in Chechen migrants who want asylum in the EU has been increasing because of oppressive and often violent tactics employed by officials in the regime of the Moscow-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

A court in Russia has jailed a Russian man for fighting against Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk.

The Russian Investigative Committee said on August 30 that a court in the Kirov region found a 24-year-old local resident guilty of fighting as a mercenary for a foreign country and sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in jail.

The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was detained after returning to Russia's Kirov region in September 2015. He had been fighting alongside Ukrainian armed forces against pro-Russian separatists for more than six months.

Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine's eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk has killed more than 9,500 people since April 2014.

There have been numerous reports that many volunteers and mercenaries from former Soviet republics are fighting on both sides of the conflict.

Based on reporting by Interfax and RIA

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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