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The Republic of Nowhere ABC News Australia Foreign Correspondent Feature on Novorossia


Russell Bentley is a swaggering American nicknamed “Tex” – an avowed communist who no longer calls America home.

“If I go back, I go back armed,” he declares. “we’re here defending Russia.”

Tex is one of a motley band of foreigners who have buddied up with Russian-backed rebels fighting in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.

Tex’s base Donetsk was home to a million people but most have fled since pro-Russian separatists wrested control last year. Its streets are eerily quiet. There’s supposed to be a ceasefire, but for months the night skies of the city’s outskirts have lit up with bursts of shelling between the rebels and Ukraine government forces.

At the local football stadium, Anastasia helps to distribute food aid. Her 17-year-old daughter was killed by a government rocket strike. “We’ve been left with nothing, only a pain in our hearts,” Anastasia tells reporter Matt Brown.

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