[Marxism] Information on the Donetsk People's Republic's new prime minister
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jun 1 07:10:24 MDT 2014
NY Times, June 1 2014
In Ukraine War, Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
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.
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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