Reshuffle in the "power structures" of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" takes place regularly. In addition to the struggle for control of the resources and financial flows, there is sluggish political theater which results in a series of permanent layoffs of so-called "ministers" and creating visibility of changes in the government. In addition, there is a process of replacing heads of "2014 wave" with officials with experience who before the war were closely associated with the Party of Regions or have family ties with the leaders of the "republic".
Information about some of the "republican" appointees is extremely scarce, but we have tried to demonstrate who are sitting in the "power" offices of the "DPR" and talk about some interesting facts and intricacies of their biographies.
About Russian policy makers
Aide Russian President Vladislav Surkov has been long considered as the chief curator of Donbass militants. However, in early November 2015 there appeared information that those responsible for economic and ideological issues in the self-proclaimed "republics" were removed from Donetsk and returned to Moscow. Former militant of the "DPR army" Alexander Zhuchkovsky who is now engaged in delivery of "militias" to the front and is well aware of the "power" twists and turns in the "DPR" wrote the following on his Facebook page:
"Today all the curators in LDPR were dismissed. I don’t know anything exactly about Surkov (but they say he was removed from the Ukrainian direction), but all the performers and "observers" were made to leave the game. Let's see if new people will come and who they will be."
New details in February 2016 showed that Surkov controlled the situation in Donetsk now. SSU said that he visited occupied Donetsk with inspections and listened to "reports" of the "DPR" leaders.
The post of Kremlin curator of the Russian Spring in the "DPR" after Surkov was attributed to the Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Kozak. German Bild newspaper confirmed in its recent investigation that Kozak was now part of the so-called "shadow government of the DPR" which controls finances, taxes, rehabilitation of infrastructure and industry, creation of the electricity market, energy trade and so on.
Another attempt to be curator of the occupied territories of Donetsk region was made by grey cardinal of Russian politics, the first deputy head of the Russian Presidential Administration Vyacheslav Volodin who has long been in conflict with Vladislav Surkov. However, he didn’t manage to consolidate his position on the vacant post, so he got an insignificant role in the humanitarian supply to the "DPR".
Head of the "DPR"
Alexander Zakharchenko is one of the organizers of the Oplot - Kharkov antimaydan union formed in January 2014. It became illegal armed formation of the "DPR" within six months. In the spring of 2014 Oplot took the building of the Donetsk City Council under its protection. A little later they actively participated in the battles with the Ukrainian security forces in Slavyansk, Gorlovka and Donetsk. On August 8th, 2014 Moscow PR man Alexander Boroda was replaced by Zakharchenko on the post of Prime Minister of the "DPR". His resignation was explained by the fact that not "a native Muscovite" but "native Donetsk resident" like Zakharchenko should rule the "DPR".
"I won’t leave the republic. I’ll take the post of adviser to the Prime Minister ", - he said at the press conference. However, since then Boroday has not been seen in the "DPR".
In November 2014 Zakharchenko was elected as the "head of the Donetsk People's Republic".
According to Russian Novaya Gazeta, now the head of the "DPR" has about four or five thousand fighters and also controls a large part of the liquid assets of Donetsk and adjacent cities. The newspaper found that Zakharchenko was engaged in selling on the oil market where until recently the last word belonged to Sergey Kurchenko, one of those oligarchs close to Alexander Yanukovych.
Apart from Zakharchenko, the"DPR" is ruled by head of "the DPR head apparatus" Maxim Leshchenko. Founder of Vostok battalion and well-known fighter Alexander Khodakovsky is sure about that. On March 5th, 2016 he called Leshchenko in his Live Journal "shadow head of the republic" and protégé of Rinat Akhmetov.
"These Rinatov’s appointees are already everywhere. "Leshch" is hated by all from Zakhar’s entourage, but Moscow does let to get rid of him – they have some story with Rinat," - said Khodakovsky with reference to the entourage of the so-called "head of the DPR" Alexander Zakharchenko. "This pack should be taken away, otherwise Zakharchenko will become a front sign, if he has not already become: no head of administration will follow Zakharchenko’s instructions until consults with Leshchenko. The guy tasted quickly and not only power. Fighter from unit guarding Leshchenko and his house showed where this fruit lives: a huge mansion in the center of the city, a lot of security," - wrote Khodakovsky.
"People's Council of the DPR"
Unlike Alexander Zakharchenko, Denis Pushilin does not have its own army, and militants’ attitude towards him is ambiguous. Despite this, he manages to be a prominent figure as the chairman "People's Council of the DPR" in the hierarchy of the separatists which, based on the "Constitution of the Republic", is the representative and sole legislative authority "of state power."
Pushilin took office thanks to the "coup in the republic" – separatist media described so the resignation of Andrey Purgin who had led the "People's Council" before Pushilin. By the way, Purgin was dismissed rather strangely: on September 4th, 2015, at an extraordinary session of the so-called "People's Council of the DPR" initiated by Alexander Zakharchenko, there were 60 votes to dismiss him from the post. A part of the "deputies" supporting Purgin was banned to vote while his wife was detained "for a conversation".
Most likely, such a reshuffle occurred due to a power struggle between the above-mentioned curators of the "DPR" Surkov and Volodin. OstroV’s sources reported that Denis Pushilin was always considered to be a man of Vladislav Surkov’s zone of influence and Purgin was Volodin’s favorite.
"The Supreme Court of the DPR"
Chairman of the "Supreme Court" of the DPR" is Russian Eduard Yakubovsky. Information about him is scarce. It is known that he previously served as "Prosecutor General of the "DPR" and before that - he had worked as a senior investigator, criminalist of the Main Department of Criminology and Investigative Committee of Russia. Yakubovsky was one of the supporters of the idea that the work of "law-enforcement bodies and courts" in the self-proclaimed "republics" should be based on the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation.
"The Council of Ministers of the DPR"
Chairman of the "Council of Ministers" is the "head" of the "DPR" Alexander Zakharchenko. The head of the "administration" is Dmitry Kovyrshin since October 2015. In 2004 after the first Maidan in Kiev he was one of the organizers of the Antimaydan movement in Donetsk. In 2006 he worked as a merchandiser of Artyomovsk Winery sales department. When militants of the "DPR" occupied Donetsk, he was the commander of a platoon of armored vehicles of the "republican guard". Later he was elected to the "People's Council of the DPR".
"Minister of Finance" - Yekaterina Matyushchenko. One of the few who entered the government of the "DPR" on the first day of its existence, on May 16th, 2014. At the beginning of the military conflict in Donbass she gave out legal acts on behalf of the illegitimate "Ministry of Finance" and organized collection of material assistance for militants of the "republics".
Information Ministry is led by Yelena Nikitina, a relative of Dennis Pushilin (sister of his father). According to OstroV’s sources, Nikitina was involved in the dismissal of speaker of the "DPR parliament" Andrey Purgin and lobbied her nephew due to the massive information support in the media controlled by her. Nikitina accused Ukrainian journalists "of fomenting war in Donbass" and then she promised them "her Nuremberg Tribunal".
Former "people's mayor" of Slavyansk Vladimir Pavlenko took the post of "the Minister of State Security" on December 14th, 2015 replacing Sergey Lukashevich. Before the war Pavlenko served as chief of the Office of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Slavyansk Town Council and was part of the inner circle of odious Neli Shtepa.
Vladimir Kononov (call sign "Tsar") headed "Ministry of Defense" on August 15th, 2014. Before him, this position was held by Igor Girkin (Strelkov). According to data from the "republican media", the latter was "sent to another job" without explanation. People close to the political elite of the "DPR" say that Strelkov and Kononov are people of Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.
Minister of Income and Fees Alexander Timofeyev (call sign Tashkent). He was appointed on November 12nd, 2014. He is a relative of the leader of the "DPR" Alexander Zakharchenko via his first wife. The head of "DPR" promoted his career. Timofeyev is a co-founder of two companies which provide cable TV services under occupation. He also owns one of the most profitable mines which is actually conducted by the business empire of Alexander Yanukovych – Mine named after Kiselyov. Unofficially, it was reported that "the Minister" "nationalized" the enterprise, but then the miners discovered that he actually reassigned mine under his direct control.
Head of "ME of the DPR" Alexey Kostrubitsky was appointed on November 12th 2014. It is known that he comes from Vasilkov, Kiev region. His relatives, by the way, still live there. According to the Vasilkov public activist Vladlen Sergiyenko, Kostrubitsky "successfully married" in Donetsk and due to that he appeared in the DPR circles. Sergiyenko wrote about that on his Facebook page.
It is known about "Minister of Internal Affairs" Alexey Dikom that in the spring of 2014 Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov appointed him on the post of Chief of OCD in Donetsk region. Dikoy almost immediately went to militants and OCD became their base. However, Kiev said that thereby he controlled them. Soon Dikoy was the core "Minister" of the DPR. In August 2015 the Ukrainian and Russian media reported about the arrest of Dikoy. There was no exact information about his arrest on the separatist information resource. Sources of OstroV say that the arrest took place, but information about the motives are different. Some say that the reason for the detention was the theft of the money which was spent on the "DPR police", others - that he was guilty during distribution of humanitarian aid, in which almost all "agencies" of the "DNR" are involved. Dikoy is also said to be allegedly suspected of having links with the Ukrainian authorities. Despite the arrest, Dikoy continues to perform his "ministerial" duties. However, separatist media rarely mention him.
On May 5th, 2015, Alexander Zakharchenko issued a "decree" to appoint Larisa Polyakova on the post of "Minister of Education". She was previously a professor of the department of information technology of Donetsk State University of Management. OstroV’s sources claim that Polyakov is a sister of former Dean of the History Faculty of the Donetsk National University Sergey Baryshnikov. In the autumn of 2014 Baryshnikov was appointed on the post of Donetsk National University, but was soon dismissed - for taking bribes. However, Baryshnikov lobbied a close person on a lucrative post through his son who works in the Foreign Ministry of Russia. Polyakova’s predecessor Igor Kostenok got into detention center because of stealing humanitarian aid.
"Minister of Justice" Yelena Radomskaya was a known Donetsk lawyer before the war. Before "ministerial" chair, she was a secretary of the "Central Election Commission of the DPR".
"Minister of Communications" Viktor Yatsenko was born in Kherson. He was formerly head of the Kherson branch of the Novorossia Party.
Head of the "Ministry of Youth, Sports and Tourism" Mikhail Mishin worked as Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports of Makeyevka City Council until 2014 and became "Minister" in May 2015.
After the head of the self-proclaimed "DPR" signed a decree on dismissal of Minister of Economic Development Yevgeniya Samokhina, the post of "Minister of Economic Development" was taken over by Victoria Romanyuk on November 18th, 2015, she was previously Samokhina’s deputy. The reason for dismissal Makeyevka resident Yevgeniya Samokhina isn’t clear. OstroV’s sources who know Samokhina say that she allegedly repeatedly traveled to Kiev, when she was already a "DPR" deputy.
Head "of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs" - Natalia Nikonorova. She was appointed on February 23rd, 2016. Earlier this position was occupied by Alexander Kofman. Prior to her appointment on the post, Natalia Nikonorova worked as a lawyer in the apparatus of the "DPR People's Council" and represented Donetsk separatists in the contact subgroup on political affairs in Minsk. In political circles of the "republic" Nikonorova is considered to be close to the head of "People's Council" of the DPR Denis Pushilin. Igor Strelkov openly called her "Pushilin’s mistress"
In addition, the "Minister of Foreign Affairs" is the daughter of the chief of "Department of Industry of the DPR" Yuriy Nikonorov. Her brother Alexey Nikonorov works as deputy chairman of the People's Council of the "DPR".
Minister of Energy and Coal Ruslan Dubovskiy is a former CEO of Zhdanovskaya mine lease company.In fact, he replaced dead Yevgeniy Faynitskiy who was associated with disgraced Ukrainian oligarch Sergey Kurchenko.
Larisa Tolstykina became the "Minister of Labour and Social Policy" on March 16th, 2016. Before that she had led the occupation administration of Makeyevka. Her former deputy Igor Andriyenko is now the "Minister of Transport of the DPR".
Ruslan Biryukov, OstroV