[Marxism] Information on the Donetsk People's Republic's new prime minister

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jun 1 07:10:24 MDT 2014

NY Times, June 1 2014
In Ukraine War, Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints

DONETSK, Ukraine — Not long ago, Alexander Borodai, a fast-talking 
Muscovite with a stylish goatee, worked as a consultant for an 
investment fund in Moscow. Today he is prime minister of the 
self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, zipping around town in a black 
S.U.V. with tinted windows and armed guards and commanding what he says 
are hundreds of fighters from Russia.

Mr. Borodai is Russian, but says he has come to eastern Ukraine out of a 
surge of patriotism and a desire to help Russian speakers here protect 
their rights. As for the Kremlin, he says, there’s no connection.

“I’m an ordinary citizen of Russia, not a government worker,” said Mr. 
Borodai, 41, whose face crinkles easily into a smile. “A lot of people 
from Russia are coming to help these people. I am one of them.”


That leaves Mr. Borodai as a central figure in Ukraine’s immediate 
future. He may seem to have come out of nowhere, but in Russia he is a 
known quantity. He comes from a group of ultranationalists who were part 
of the far-right Zavtra newspaper in the 1990s. Their Pan-Slavic ideas, 
aiming for the unity of Slavic peoples, were considered marginal at the 
time. But they have now moved into the mainstream, helping formulate the 
worldview of today’s Kremlin, said Oleg Kashin, a Russian investigative 
journalist who has written extensively about Mr. Borodai.

“He’s the Karl Rove of Russian imperialism,” said Irena Chalupa, a 
fellow at the Atlantic Council.

When Mr. Borodai talks, people here listen. Surrounded by armed guards 
with scowling faces, Mr. Borodai stood with a microphone at the center 
of a large crowd that had gathered last weekend outside the compound of 
a local oligarch. They wanted to break in and declare it national property.

“I know many of you want a tour,” he said smiling, as the crowd cheered. 
“I respect that desire. But right now a tour is not possible.”

In an interview, Mr. Borodai said that he and Mr. Strelkov, the Russian 
rebel commander in Slovyansk, had both gone to Transnistria, a breakaway 
area in Moldova, to defend the rights of Russians in the 1990s. He named 
the cities in Russia that volunteers have come from, including 
Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Chita. He said he believed in the idea of a 
Greater Russia, and that he had come to Ukraine to realize it. “Real 
Ukrainians have the right to live as they like,” he said. “They can 
create their own state which would be named Ukraine, or however they 
like, because the word Ukraine is a little humiliating,” he said, 
asserting that the literal translation meant “on the border of.” (The 
etymology is disputed.)

He explained that Ukrainians “have their heroes, their values, their 
religion,” but that “we also want to live as we want to live. We think 
that we have that right. And if we need to, we will assert that right.”

Roman Szporluk, emeritus professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard 
University, said such language was worrying. “Putin would like to 
Yugoslavize Ukraine,” he said. “He wants to create an ethnic conflict 
where one did not exist.”

No one here seems to know where Mr. Borodai came from or what his 
allegiances are. But such things do not matter. “They are good guys, 
they are our guys, they are protecting us against Kiev’s aggression,” 
said Lidia Lisichkina, a 55-year-old geologist who is an ethnic Russian.

Mr. Kashin, the investigative journalist, does not believe that either 
Mr. Borodai or Mr. Strelkov is acting on behalf of the Russian 
government. “This is not the hand of Moscow, it’s just Borodai,” Mr. 
Kashin said.

Local rebel leaders say their goals coincide. Roman Lyagin, an election 
specialist from Donetsk who is responsible for pensions and wages in the 
new republic (so far they are still paid by Kiev), said one of the main 
tasks is to push separatist control farther west to “create a land route 
from Russia to Crimea.”

“People there need oatmeal, television and underwear,” he said.

At the regional administration building on Friday, Mr. Borodai was busy 
consolidating his power, holding his first government meeting after his 
forces swept out the local separatists.

The former National Guard base was buzzing with activity. A white 
minivan full of armed men in black balaclavas zoomed out of a large 
metal gate, its purple curtains pulled partly closed. A man wearing 
civilian clothes carried two large black bags to a hatchback station 
wagon and sped away.

Outside the gate, Mamai, the Ossetian fighter, said he had not come to 
Ukraine for money. He had a business doing security for banks in 
Vladikavkaz, where he lives. “Everyone who wants to be with Russia,” he 
said, “those are our brothers.”

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