Russian rebel unit. (Photo from Vkontakte, Konstantin Gorelov).
Russia plans on May 9 a mass amnesty of prisoners - to be granted in return for their going to fight in Ukraine’s Donbas conflict, Advisor of the Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Markiyan Lubkivsky said during a briefing in Kyiv on Monday.
"On May 9, there is planned a large-scale amnesty in Russia to release convicts, who will join the ranks of the militants of the Donetsk People’s Republic fighting against Ukraine," Lubkivsky said, adding that this was an indication that Russia has no plans to stop its aggression in a well-prepared war against Ukraine.
Lubkivsky said the information was provided to the Ukrainian Security Service from it agents.
"I do not want to frighten anyone and create anxiety, but I want you to understand that a furious and aggressive war is being waged against us today, and we all should be ready today to defend our country", Lubkivsky added.
The 70th anniversary of the Allies’ victory in Europe over Nazi Germany will be celebrated on May 9 this year.
Survey: Number of Russians who think open war with Ukraine possible rises sharply
More than half of Russian believe eastern Ukraine is in state of civil war that broke out "after the seizure of power by a junta," according to a survey of the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion.
In addition, 17% of the respondents believe that Ukraine is seeing genocide and terrorism, Ukrainian newspaper Zekalo Nedeli reported, citing Russian newspaper Vedomosti.
Some 3% of Russians blame the West for the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Another 10% say that war is already underway in Ukraine and they support the supply of financial assistance and weapons to the militants.
According to Valeriy Fiodorov of the Center for the Study of Public Opinion, Russian citizens base their judgment on what is happening in eastern Ukraine on information provided by the major Russian media. Almost 86% of TV viewers, 68% of readers of publications and 53% of online media readers completely trust their national media.
The main Russian media are strongly influenced by the Kremlin and almost always toe its line on how to report events in Ukraine, with more independent media closed or driven out of widespread circulation.
In addition, several Russian TV channels, notably RT (formerly Russia Today), have aired fake reports about events in Ukraine.
89% of Ukraine citizens oppose Russia sending in troops
IRI Ukraine Poll Oct 2014: 89% oppose Russia sending in troops, including a large majority in the east