A former leader of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine has announced the launch of a support network for Russian volunteers who fought in the conflict and the families of those killed.
Aleksandr Borodai said in Moscow on August 27 that the Union of Donbas Volunteers aims to gain the same status and benefits for volunteers who fought in Ukraine as for veterans of military conflicts.
Borodai, a Russian citizen, said it is currently being registered by Russia’s Justice Ministry, adding that the organization will have offices in Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, and the Crimea Peninsula.
The former self-proclaimed prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic did not specify how the organization would be financed.
Borodai estimated that up to 50,000 Russian volunteers fought in eastern Ukraine since fighting between government forces and separatists erupted in April 2014.
Kyiv and the West say Russia is deploying its regular troops to Ukraine’s east to back up the rebels. Moscow claims its citizens fighting there are all either volunteers or troops on leave from their jobs.