Ukraine Led by 'Miserable Jews,' Says Rebel Leader

Head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic says the country's traditional nationalists would 'turn in their grave' if they could see who was leading the country today.

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A leading pro-Russian separatist in Ukraine has called the country's leaders "miserable Jews," AFP reported.

In a press conference on Monday that was carried live by Russian news channel Rossiya-24, Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, described the country's Kiev-based, pro-Western leaders as "miserable representatives of the great Jewish people"

He added that the prominent nationalists in the country's past "would turn in their graves if they could see who is running Ukraine."

"I can't remember a time when Cossacks were led by people who have never held a sword in their hands," Zakharchenko told a press conference in the eastern rebel stronghold of Donetsk. The Cossacks were the traditional forbearers of today's Ukrainians.

Zakharchenko also announced a compulsory call-up in the separatist territory, aimed at bolstering its forces to 100,000 troops.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and the pro-Russian rebels, which has claimed 5,100 lives since April, has surged in recent weeks after the collapse of a tenuous ceasefire deal.