Zakharchenko no more

Igor Plotniotsky should be feeling rather relieved right now.  After all, he was removed as “leader” of the “Luhansk People’s Republic” in a “coup” that saw him officially retire due to health issues and disappear into Russia.

Alexander Zakharchenko, the “leader” of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” retired from the position on 31st August 2018, the same way many other “public personalities/leaders” were retired – via a violent death, in his case being blown up in a restaurant.

(Also injured was Alexander Timofeyev, “Finance Minister” according to initial reports.)

Suffice to say no tears will be shed by the blog.

The late Mr Zakharchenko has been temporarily replaced by “First Prime Minister” Dmitry Trapeznikov.  Mr Trapeznikov was once the leader of the official Shaktar Donetsk fan club, and latterly a local government official in Dontesk.  The football and local governance positions will lead many to find inference that Mr Trapeznikov will be known to Donetsk oligarch Rinat Akhmetov and perhaps still influenced by him.

Naturally the “Donetsk leadership” will blame Ukraine for the assassination (despite that meaning subversive Ukrainian operatives waltzed into the centre of occupied Donetsk, planted explosives and assassinated the “leader”, and also escaped undiscovered – posing questions over the security within the “occupied Donbas”).

The Kremlin will sit upon the fence and made statements about “an act of terrorism”, from which many will draw the inference the Kremlin/Russian Security Services were involved/gave (at least tacit) approval for the assassination.

Ukraine will seek to exploit any gaps between The Kremlin and the “Donetsk leadership” and infer both are responsible (individually and in collusion).  Given the long list of assassinations of “leaders/public figures” within the “republics” – a framing that most people within and without the occupied territories also believe.  This is likely to be the narrative which gains the most traction (and is most likely).

It follows that there will be those who will now look to see whether this assassination and the appointment of Mr Trapezikov signifies a change of direction within the occupied territory, or a move toward a “leadership” more acceptable for “Minsk progression”.  Others will ponder whether this is more a question of “business/money flow” redirection within occupied Donetsk and onward within Moscow.

In truth it is perhaps too soon to make any assumptions – and neither are both necessarily mutually exclusive.  Further it would be foolish to harbour the idea that the late Mr Zakharchenko actually had much influence over the direction or administration of the “Donetsk Republic” with regard to any meaningful policy – for that was and remains the purview of Moscow.

Whatever the case, The Kremlin, Ukraine and the “Republic” will swiftly move on without  Zakharchenko – a man who was living on borrowed time from the moment he assumed the role.