Monday, September 3, 2018

Six Versions of Zakharchenko’s Liquidation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 2 – Whenever Moscow wants to hide its own role or alternatively wants to maintain as much freedom of action in the future, its official media outlets put out a variety of explanations for any event, some of which may even appear “objective” because they cast a negative light on what the Russian side may have been doing.

            So has been the case in the days since the death of Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Peoples Republic” in the Russian-occupied Donbass. The odds are good that the Kremlin decided Zakharchenko was getting in the way of its plans, but other possibilities exist for someone so notoriously violent, corrupt and anti-Ukrainian.

            Consequently, it is a good idea to keep track of the various versions of reality that Moscow has been putting out, not because most of them are true but rather because they say a lot about how the Kremlin intends to use an action for which it is likely to have been the prime creator.

            Ukrainian political analyst Volodimir Volya offers a list of six versions all of which have surfaced in the Moscow media and been discussed in their Ukrainian counterparts (  They include:

1.      Internal conflicts within the DNR over property and power there.

2.      The Ukrainian special services which wanted to sow disorder in the pro-Moscow camp possibly to set the stage for a Ukrainian advance.

3.      A representative of Ukrainian rightwing radical groups taking revenge for their losses, a charge that would hurt Kyiv with its Western allies.

4.      Ukrainian veterans of the conflict, also interested in revenge and also suggesting that Kyiv isn’t in control of its own regime.

5.      Representatives of Ukrainian business angry at Zakharchenko’s confiscation of their property.

6.      The Russian special services either setting the stage for a new generation of leaders in the Donbass or for a new and expanded attack on Kyiv possibly by making Zakharchenko into “a dead hero” rather than a living problem.   

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