Russian Presidential Adviser Vladislav Surkov appointed his own people to govern the LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic) and DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic), and determines the internal policy in the “republics”, Reuters reported.
Surkov’s role was described to the news agency by three people who previously held high positions in the self-proclaimed republics. Two of the sources wished to remain anonymous, but the third – Alexei Alexandrov – gave permission for his name to be used.
According to them, Surkov was involved in the establishment of the military leadership structures, and now controls the situation in the LPR and DPR through specially chosen proxies who regularly report to him on the state of affairs.
The sources informed the news agency that Surkov also played a key role in the appointment of Alexander Zakharchenko as the leader of the DPR. Originally it was assumed that Zakharchenko would become the defense minister of the Donetsk separatists. However, after a meeting with Surkov in the Kremlin, an order arrived from the Presidential Adviser’s office to appoint Zakharchenko as head of the DPR.
Alexander Borodai and Igor Strelkov, who had led the Donetsk separatists, “quietly stepped down so that Zakharchenko could take over,” Alexandrov said.
Moscow has gradually forced out most of the organizers of the “Russian spring” in the Donbas, using threats of death or imprisonment, all three sources claimed.
Reuters’ sources are of the opinion that the Kremlin simply exploited the uprising and put in place its own people, who do not have the region’s best interests at heart.
Strelkov refused to comment, but Borodai limited himself to saying that he recommended that Zakharchenko take over leadership of the DPR. The news agency did not receive a comment from the Presidential Administration.
Five sources, including someone close to the Russian Presidential Administration, and another who worked with Surkov in the Kremlin, said that Surkov regularly meets with the militant leaders, both in the uncontrolled Donbas territories and in Russia.