"This is some kind of concoction of his," Panchev said of the Facebook site, pointing the finger at Belishki. "There is absolutely nothing like that, it doesn't exist," Panchev added.

Garbed in camouflage military fatigues, helmets, heavy black boots, and gripping what appear to be automatic weapons, the group poses for a picture with an unfurled Bulgarian flag in a field backdropped by a row of trees, Radio Liberty reports.

The picture was uploaded on March 24 on the Facebook page of the so-called Macedonian-Bulgarian Foreign Battalion “Todor Alexandrov,” a reference to a leader of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) who was active during and after the period of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. According to that social-media account, the group are deployed in Ukraine to fight against invading Russian forces.

Soon after the Facebook page emerged, articles about the group appeared in Bulgarian media, including interviews with members of the alleged fighting force, talking about their mission and appealing for donations.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to foreigners willing to help defend Ukraine and join the fight. The government even set up a website for them to join the international brigade, which is now thought to number in its thousands.

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