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Russia-Backed Separatist Leader Says 'Little Russia' A Bust

Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko (file photo)
Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko (file photo)

The leader of Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region says his plan to create a country called Little Russia has failed.

In a statement on August 9, Aleksandr Zakharchenko said the name Little Russia -- Malorossia in Russian-- "was rejected by many."

Zakharchenko had announced the initiative on July 18, suggesting that Malorossia would encompass all of Ukraine and saying Donetsk would be its capital.

It was met with derision and criticism Kyiv and the West, and did not receive the Kremlin's support.

In the new statement, Zakharchenko claimed that the idea of reestablishing Ukraine with a less powerful central government and a new name "has won a broad support," but gave no evidence of that.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since April 2014 in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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