Support The Moscow Times!

Italian 'Fascist' Fights for Ukrainian Separatists — Rebel Ex-Leader

Gubarev, right, pictured here with fellow former rebel commander Igor Strelkov, confirmed an Italian fascist was fighting with the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

Though the Ukrainian separatists bill themselves as "anti-fascists," they accepted a self-proclaimed fascist from Italy into their army, a retired rebel leader confirmed Thursday.

"He says, 'they're the wrong American kind of fascists, and I'm the right, anti-American kind," Pavel Gubarev, a former self-proclaimed "people's governor" of the Donbass territory in eastern Ukraine, cited the unnamed Italian as saying, reported.

The man represents a "normal, non-fringe … fascist party," said Gubarev, without elaborating.

"In Europe … fascism has no negative connotations, only Nazism does," Gubarev, who was reportedly a member of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement, went on to claim.

The pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have built their cause for a five-month war around anti-fascist slogans and rhetoric.

The insurgents have called the government in Kiev a "fascist junta" and even paraded Ukrainian army captives in the streets of the city of Donetsk in August in a march imitating the 1944 parade of captured Wehrmacht soldiers across Moscow, complete with roadsweepers following the columns to "cleanse" the streets.

A number of volunteer units on the Ukrainian government side are composed of local ultranationalists joined by a handful of European neo-Nazis, including from Italy.

The rebels, meanwhile, comprise many Russian traditionalists dreaming of restoring Russia to a superpower, on either Soviet or pre-revolutionary templates.

Gubarev, 31, was a rare Ukrainian national in the rebel leadership.

He unexpectedly stepped down in September along with many other rebel leaders, a move many analysts attributed to pressure from Moscow, which allegedly wanted control of the insurgency as it increased its supply of troops and military equipment to them, a charge that Russian officials have repeatedly denied.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.