A member of a newly-formed pro-Russian armed group called the Russian Orthodox Army shows an Orthodox icon as he mans a barricade near Donetsk airport May 29, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev
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Calling itself the "Russian Orthodox Army," it has been engaged in the heaviest fighting against Ukraine's army in the Donetsk region this month.It is just one of several armed rebel groups fighting in Ukraine's tumultuous east, with blurred command and coordination lines – and varying motivations and allegiances. Ukrainian army firepower pushed the separatists back from the airport earlier this week in a fierce assault in which about 50 rebels – many of them apparently from Russia – were killed.Strelkov has set up his main base in the town of Slaviansk, some 100 kilometers north of Donetsk, where the rebels Thursday shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter, killing 14 soldiers.Vostok is widely believed to have fighters in its ranks from Chechnya, a formerly rebel region of Russia that fought two separatist wars against Moscow and is now run by a Kremlin appointee, Ramzan Kadyrov, who runs his own pro-Moscow militia.In Donetsk Thursday rebels said that the bodies of some "volunteers" from Russia, killed this week in the airport fighting, were being prepared to be returned to Russia – an acknowledgement of involvement by militia fighters from across the border.
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