‘Pro-Russian‘ is not a ‘neutral’ term. It is a negative marker in the (current) Western master discourse of Russia. It’s an ‘evil twin‘ of a positive marker, i.e. ‘pro-Western‘. The root of the word ‘pro-Russian’ (‘Russia’) is itself a logoepisteme –
when one word or word combination contains a whole story, it’s a convoluted narrative. When the mainstream discourse is dominated with an already known point of view, implication or inference concerning a certain object, one doesn’t have to say/write the whole ‘formula’. For example, instead of saying/posting “Russia is a land of…/Russians are… *insert your favourite Russian stereotype*” one can just come up with any particular incarnation of the above mentioned 'memes' or simply say/write “this is Russia” or even shorter – “Russia/Russians“. The discourse is well-known, the sender of the message and the receiver ‘get the point’.
So even a ‘neutral’ article with ‘pro-Russian’ in it has in fact a negative connotation. The level of this negativity relies on the context: e.g., from ‘pro-Russian activists on a demonstration’ (read: ‘bunch of loosers and bums who have no idea what to do with their lives’) to ‘pro-Russian separatists’ (read: ‘the Ruskies are coming! Stop the barbarian horde!!!’). Meanwhile the ‘pro-Western’ term in such phrases as ‘pro-Western activists/separatists’ positions these actors as ‘good’, ‘democratic’, ‘freedom-loving’, etc. without even saying it directly.
Thus, ‘pro-Russian’ implies a sentiment like:
Narrator A: “Who the hell in their sane mind would be pro-Russian?”
Narrator B: “Exactly! Only inbred totalitarian Russians I guess”.