Harunjen says Moldovans working in Russia were at ongoing risk of being drawn into the conflict / Photo from UNIAN

Moldova has handed prison sentences to eight citizens for fighting on the side of pro-Russian rebels in the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, Moldovan General Prosecutor Eduard Harunjen said on Thursday, May 3.

Those convicted face varying jail terms, Reuters said.

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A further 25 Moldovans are on international wanted lists in connection with the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Harunjen said in parliament.

According to Harunjen, Moldovans working in Russia were at ongoing risk of being drawn into the conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people since fighting broke out in 2014.

"This is when brothers, fathers and husbands go away to work in eastern countries and there they are recruited into military groups. Sometimes they die there and sometimes they come home, but their hands are bloodied," he said.

Relations between Moldova and Russia are at a low ebb following tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats last year. At the time, sources told Reuters this was linked partly to attempts by Moscow to recruit fighters in Moldova for the conflict in Ukraine.