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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Video Shows LDPR Flag Raised Above Separatist Militia Training Camp in Eastern Ukraine
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A BBC video report by Paul Kenyon, published earlier today, shows a separatist training camp at an undisclosed location in eastern Ukraine. The camp is reportedly run by a former construction company owner, Alexei Moskovoy. Kenyon notes that he had met Moskovoy a month earlier, when he was returning from "meetings with officials in Moscow". Moskovoy is notably evasive when asked about the source of their weapons.

Interestingly, above the militia's base flies the flag of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR):


The LDPR is a far-right nationalist party led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The party is ostensibly in opposition but often acts to support the ruling United Russia party. Zhirinovsky has received much media attention for his extreme public statements about race, religion and women, (most recently exhorting one of his aides to rape a pregnant journalist who had questioned him at a press conference).

Prior to this incident, he was filmed on May 6, carrying out a publicity stunt in support of the separatists in Lugansk. The video is summarized here on our Russia This Week blog. Zhirinovsky brought a 'Tiger' armored car, emblazoned with the LDPR logo, as a gift. He also pledged, dressed up in a military uniform:

to give a free Volga car to any "soldier, officer or citizen who is the first to break through to Kiev at some stage and plant a Russian flag on the Verkhovna Rada" (parliament of Ukraine). He added that the Volga would be the newest off the line at a Russian factory, just like the one Brezhnev rode in, but "with an American engine."

The appearance of the LDPR flag above the separatist training camp would suggest Zhirinovsky's support for the separatists may have extended further than his public visit. 

Aleksandr Barkashov, the leader of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement, has, according to SBU phone intercepts, been involved in organising separatist fighters in Donetsk. While Barkashov seemed to be in contact with the Kremlin from these recordings, he appeared frustrated with their responses. Barkashov is, however, far more removed from central influence than Zhirinovsky, who Putin has been happy to appear alongside. The LDPR also command a major presence in the Duma. The Kremlin may be making use of extreme nationalists outside the executive government or United Russia to channel funds and support to separatist fighters so as to maintain deniability.