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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukraine Liveblog Day 173

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Is There a Struggle for Power in the 'Donetsk People's Republic?'

With contradictory reports of the "encirclement" of Donetsk attributed to Col. Strelkov, the question of whether there is a struggle for power in the leadership of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) has been revisited.

Aleksandr Zakharchenko was confirmed as Prime Minister of the DPR by the joint DPR and LPR legislature on August 8. (The vote was "more than 50 to 1 with 6 abstentions," says


Boroday (L) congratulates Zakharchenko (R) in Donetsk. Photo by Konstantin Sazonchik/ITAR-TASS

Aleksandr Boroday stepped down from this post, but retained the title "vice premier" and said he would remain as an advisor to the DPR. Andrei Purgin also has the title "vice premier" in the DPR.

It was not clear if Boroday was going to stay in Donetsk, where he went August 4 to give a press conference about his resignation. There was a wave of ridicule of him based on the information dug up by that he is part-owner of a restaurant business in Moscow.

Zakharchenko, recently wounded in battle, has served as head of the separatists' unit Oplot, which grew out of the Donetsk branch of a Kharkiv fight club. According to Boris Litvinov, the chairman of the DPR's Supreme Soviet, he is known for having "the correct leftist views" and guarding Lenin's statue during anti-Kiev demonstrations last February, reported.

In his press conference about the new appointment, Boroday said "I will take the post of general advisor to the premier with the status of vice-premier," Vzglyad reported.

He described himself as a "crisis manager" and a "start-upper" for the DPR, and that now it was time to remove civilian leaders and put in a military person because of the need to fight a war.

Oleg Tsarev, a former Verkhovna Rada deputy who became the speaker of the "Novorossiya" parliament, told Vzglyad (translation by The Interpreter):

"I think Boroday will continue to manage the situation in the [DPR] as before. His resignation will hardly prevent him from influencing the overall course of the processes. As far as I know, Aleksandr Zakharchenko is a creature of Boroday."

Experts also commented to Vzglyad that now the DPR removed an "image problem" with Boroday, a Muscovite in charge, as Zakharchenko is a native of the Donbass.

As we reported earlier, Strelkov's claim to be surrounded by Ukrainian troops in Donetsk was refuted by DPR news outlets and Ukrainians called it "disinformation."

Boris Rozhin, editor of Golos Sevastopolya, who blogs under the name Colonel Cossad, implied in a post today that the "disinformation" may have come from anti-Strelkov factions among the ultranationalists (translation by The Interpreter)

It is noteworthy that since this morning, the Bandera [i.e. pro-Kiev--The Interpreter] web sites have been actively working the fake story that Strelkov is lying and that he has already been removed, referencing Zakharchenko. Kurginyan's sectarians haven't let up. The attempts to get rid of Strelkov are continuing, after liquidating the system of coordination and direction of the DPR army. The increasing difficulty of the situation on the front has quite expectedly provoked an activization of the information against Novorossiya. Regarding the situation, the question of the surrounding of Donetsk will be decided in the course of battles for Krasny Luch and surrounding areas.

Several blog sites known for publishing Col. Strelkov's statements have issued alleged quotes from Strelkov that seek to clarify the story of Krasny Luch and also project harmony:

The commander-in-chief is Aleksandr Zakharchenko. This is his prerogative as Prime Minister. I have never claimed that post. I am only the Commander of the Militia, I was that and remain so. In the DPR Supreme Soviet, besides the Militia, there are at a minimum two major associations. A. Zakharchenko and I have complete mutual understanding, he is a worthy warrior, a good commander and awarded the St. George's Cross for his merits in battle. Opolot fights hand in hand with the Militia at all the most difficult places.

According to the reconnaissance (unverified) by a joint attack, Krasny Luch was cleansed of the Ukes. Our recon battalion is waging battle in the direction of Miusinsk from the east. From the west, the Tsar Battalion is cleansing Vakhrushevo and Khrustalny. There is a heavy battle outside Mospino. The situation is changing constantly. There is  fighting again in [Krasny] Luch.

Boroday was reported as calling Strelkov "a f**king mad colonel* in an intercept of his conversation made by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU); yet Boroday is the one who stepped down from the leadership.

Ultimately, it seems as if the conflicts among the DPR leadership may be exaggerated through their portrayal in the Moscow-based media and through social media, reflecting faction fights among various Moscow ultranationalists.

Pavel Pryanikov, editor of Russian Planet ( hopes Zakharchenko will prevail over Strelkov:

Translation: Zakharenko should arrest "Strelkov" as quickly as possible and instead of him, appoint a Soviet, socialist person.
Translation: There is mega-fighting in LiveJournal now for/against: Strelkov, Khodakovsky, Mozgovoy, Zakharchenko...Interesting...
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Is Separatist Prime Minister Zakharchenko Really Ready for a Ceasefire?

Sometimes it pays to read beyond the tweeted headlines.

RIA Novosti ran a headline "DPR Militia Ready for Ceasefire - Zakharchenko" but explained in the third paragraph  that "if there is continuation of the aggression of the Ukrainian army, the people's militia will continue fighting with any correlation of forces under any circumstances."

The New York Times reported inaccurately that Zakharchenko's offer of a ceasefire was "appeared to be unconditional".

Ukrainians see their unchecked advance as further confirmation that Mr. Putin is mobilizing troops only as a scare tactic to keep them from reclaiming territory.

The government in Kiev is “calling Putin’s bluff,” said Oleh Voloshyn, a former Ukrainian diplomat, who said political leaders dismissed Mr. Putin’s moves as “psychological pressure.”

“If we pause, it would show Putin that any time he puts troops on the border, we will stop,” Mr. Voloshyn said.

Ukraine was given just that option on Saturday when a separatist leader, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, offered what appeared to be an unconditional cease-fire to prevent a large-scale “humanitarian catastrophe.” On Saturday night, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s minister of the interior said Ukraine would not halt its offensive.

The Kyiv Post ran a headline, Rebel Leader Says Ready for Cease-Fire as Ukrainian Forces Press on Donetsk:

With Ukrainian forces pressing down on the rebels, the newly appointed separatist leader in Donetsk Alexander Zakharchenko said he was ready for a ceasefire to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the city.

Here's Zakharchenko's full statement (translated by The Interpreter) which makes it clear that the offer of a ceasefire is conditional on the cessation by the Ukrainian forces of their effort to take Donetsk -- which they have not given up:

According to the situation this morning, Donetsk is surrounded by forces of the punitive army and the National Guard. However, the divisions of the people's militia are in full order and ready to defend the capital of the republic. The henchmen have repeatedly announced an encirclement, a cleansing, and even taking of some of the districts of Donetsk. However in reality, they will never manage to do this. The government of the DPR is still confident of victory. However there is a humanitarian catastrophe in a surrounded city. Civilians are dying form the shelling. In the event of the storming of the city, the number of victims will grow by orders of magnitude. There are absolutely no corridors today. Trucks with medications for the population cannot get through to Donetsk. Food is running out. Due to the blockade and the shelling, it is impossible to repair the destroyed utilities. Things are very bad with water supply and electricity in the city.

We continue to hope that the world community will influence the blood-thirsty Kiev authorities, and Donetsk will not repeat the fate of Stalingrad. We are prepared for a ceasefire in order to prevent the increasing scales of the humanitarian disaster in the Donbass. But if there is continuation of aggression by the Ukrainian army, our people's militia will fight under any correlation of forces and under any conditions.

Kiev must remember how Stalingrad ended for the Nazis, and that in a few years after it, Berlin was taken. Now Donetsk is turning into a united military camp. We will not allow the excesses and violence of the Nazis in Donetsk. The battle will be waged on every street, for every house, for every meter of our land! The enemy will be repelled. We will defend our right to freedom and independence! The residents of Donetsk support of resoluteness in the struggle with the occupiers! Victory will be hours!

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Separatists Claim to Re-Take Krasny Luch

As we reported earlier, Russian state media and separatist fighters claimed this morning that Ukrainian forces had taken Krasny Luch, a town vital for surrounding Donetsk and Gorlovka where rebels have had their strongholds. They based their reports on statements said to be from Col. Igor Strelkov, defense minister of the "Donetsk People's Republic."

But as we reported then, even as one citizen in Krasny Luch was recording a video from his roof and saying "it's calm now," he noted resumed shelling some blocks away.

First, the "Donetsk People's Republic" Twitter account contradicted Strelkov's report:

Translation: according to preliminary information, Krasny Luch is cleansed of the enemy's forces. A battle is under way on the outskirts of the city in the area of Miusinsk from the direction of the east.

Then other pro-separatist Twitter accounts began to claim rebels had regained control of Krasny Luch:

Translation: the militiamen have managed to regain control over the city of Krasny Luch.

RIA Novosti carried the same report, based on the DPR tweet, but added (Translation by The Interpreter):

"In addition, militia state that Ukrainian forces have been knocked out of the populated areas of Vakhrushevo and Khrustalny, to the west of Krasny Luch. A heavy battle is under way now in the area of Mospino outside of Donetsk, according to the DPR."

Meanwhile, Kyiv Post had earlier reported that they could not confirm Strelkov's claim, and Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Council for National Security and Defense said he was unsure whether in fact Ukrainian troops had re-taken Krasny Luch.

Obozrevatel, citing the Ukrainian television TSN, went further, quoting Aleksiy Dmitrashkovskiy of the ATO Press Center who not only refuted the report but called it "disinformation". (Translation by The Interpreter.)

"It is not true that Donetsk and Gorlovka are in a complete circle. This information was especially disseminated by the terrorists, in order to show that the city is shelled by the Ukrainian military. The terrorists deliberately disseminate false information for the purpose of discreditation of the Ukrainian media and Ukrainian Armed Forces."

He added that he believed such reports were put out to make the DPR fighters appear helpless, and thus provoke defense from the Russian army.

The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Donetsk and Gorlovka Surrounded by Ukrainian Forces; Cossacks Flee Krasny Luch

Ukrainian forces seized the city of Krasny Luch in Lugansk Region, thus encircling Donetsk and Gorlovka, RIA Novosti reported, citing reports from Russian-backed separatists' headquarters. The Interpreter has provided the translation:

"The Cossacks have fled as is their tradition; only their small unit is still hanging on in the city. What has happened is what I repeatedly warned about. The Donetsk-Gorlovka Group of Forces of Novorossiya is completely surrounded."

The identical statement attributed to Col. Igor Strelkov appeared on a rusvesna, a pro-separatist outlet, with an additional bitter comment:

Nothing so strange. Krasny Luch WAS in the zone of responsibility of the LPR [Lugansk People's Republic] Group. And was defended by the 'heroes of the reborn Cossacks of Ataman Kozitsyn.' And they cannot die - 'there is no wasting the Cossack people'! New triumphs await them.

The brilliant battle path of the Cossacks in Donetsk has been notable for such ephocal successes as the surrender in one day of Krasny Liman; the surrender without fight of Popasnaya; the surrender of Debaltsevo; the surrender without battle of Fashchevki...Now Krasny Luch fills out the list. Hurray! We wlil await new achievements.

Krasny Luch is located on the highway from Donetsk to Lugansk Region and the Russian border.

An amateur video uploaded to YouTube today is labeled "Krasny Luch 9 August 2014, Checkpoint, Cossacks Flee (Donbass, Ukraine). It shows armor heading out of the area at a crossroads with a sign for Lugansk, Debaltsevo and Antratsit, consistent with the title.

A citizen reporter uploaded a video from Krasny Luch today, saying he was filming on his roof "from 3rd Microdistrict at 19:00 on to [Volodi] Pokholi St."

He said "There was panic everywhere. But now it seems to be calm"; but then recorded the sound of dozens of explosions and said shells were landing some streets away.

Another citizen reporter uploaded a video from Krasny Luch today, saying he was leaving the area, that Internet connections were very spotty, and that the roof of his own home was damaged, as well as the roofs of other buildings, with windows blown out and other destruction from shelling.

Another video uploaded today reportedly showed one person killed.
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
CORRECTION: Further Reports of Russian Armor on the Move Near Ukrainian Border

CORRECTION: Both of the videos below were misleadingly re-uploaded by Ukraine News Today as if they were from August 9, and the meta-data showed that date.

But in fact the first one was originally published July 13 and the second one was originally published July 8.

With reports of a Russian military convoy nearly reaching the Ukrainian border last night, we've been looking for further reports of Russian convoys today.

Two amateur videos have been uploaded today by Ukraine News Today 24/7, August 9. We were unable to geolocate them or confirm the news of further Russian convoy movements.

The first one is labeled "Troops from Russia approaching border of Ukraine" and shows armor and a helicopter.

The second video shows a convoy moving on the railroad with some rail cars showing the "Russian Railways" logo nearby. It is labeled "Russian troops moving toward the Ukrainian border 8 August."



This video could not be geolocated. There are three railroad crossings into Ukraine across from Sumy Region, so the video might possibly have been taken in this region:

Konotop Rail Station (Konotop)
Vorozhba Rail Station (Vorozhba)
Khutir-Mykhailivsky Rail Station (Druzhba)

There is also a photo uploaded to Instagram today showing armor which judging from comments may be located in Tikhoretsk, Krasnodar, which is a four hours' drive from Gukovo, the Russian town at the Ukrainian border.