Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko (Russian: Алекса́ндр Влади́мирович Заха́рченко, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ zɐˈxartɕɪnkə], Ukrainian: Олекса́ндр Володи́мирович Заха́рченко; 26 June 1976 – 31 August 2018) was a separatist leader who was the head of state and Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, a self-proclaimed state and rebel group which declared independence from Ukraine on 11 May 2014. Zakharchenko was appointed Prime Minister in August 2014 after his predecessor, Alexander Borodai, resigned, and went on to win the early November 2014 election for the position.
|Head of the Donetsk People's Republic|
4 November 2014 – 31 August 2018
|Preceded by||Pavel Gubarev (as People's Governor)|
|Succeeded by||Dmitry Trapeznikov (Acting)|
|Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic|
7 August 2014 – 31 August 2018
|Preceded by||Alexander Borodai|
|Succeeded by||Dmitry Trapeznikov (Acting)|
|Military commandant of Donetsk|
16 May 2014 – 6 July 2014
|Preceded by||office established|
|Succeeded by||Igor Strelkov|
Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko
26 June 1976
Donetsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
|Died||31 August 2018 (aged 42)|
|Political party||Donetsk Republic|
|Alma mater||Donetsk National Technical University|
|Allegiance|| Donetsk People's Republic|
|Branch/service||United Armed Forces of Novorossiya|
Major General DNR|
Major General LNR
|Battles/wars||War in Donbass|
Early and personal lifeEdit
Zakharchenko was born in Donetsk on 26 June 1976. He graduated from technical college and then worked as a mine electrician before opening a business in the mining industry, also having studied with the law institute of the Interior Ministry. Zakharchenko had a wife, Natalia, and four sons. He was godfather to Alexander Timofeyev's children.
On 16 April 2014, 20 members of Oplot (including Zakharchenko), armed with clubs, rifles and some automatic weapons, occupied the offices of Donetsk city council, demanding a referendum on the status of the region. Oplot were fairly well-behaved, and had helped free hostages and abductees.
By April 2014, he was the commander of a local militia in Donetsk (Oplot). The members of this militia were mainly from civic and martial arts group. Zakharchenko was appointed "military commandant of Donetsk" on 16 May 2014. Since May 2014, Zakharchenko played a leading role in the insurgency against Ukraine's central government. On 22 July 2014, he was wounded in the arm during a fight against Ukrainian government forces at Kozhevnia. In late August 2014, the DPR Ministry of Defence announced Zakharchenko's promotion to major general.
Zakharchenko succeeded Alexander Borodai as Prime Minister on 7 August 2014, Borodai then became the DPR Deputy Prime Minister. According to Borodai, Donbass native Zakharchenko succeeded him for a Russian government effort "to try to show the West that the uprising was a grassroots phenomenon". Borodai also claims that he personally recommended Zakharchenko as Prime Minister.
During the 2014 Donetsk parliamentary elections, Zakharchenko won the prime ministership with 78.93% of the vote. Next day after the elections, the head of Oplot organization Evgeniy Zhylin gave interview to the Russian television channel Dozhd where he told how Zakharchenko was appointed as a head of Donetsk branch of Oplot and how his candidacy as a leader of DPR was promoted from Moscow.
In February 2015, Zakharchenko, representing the DPR, agreed to the Minsk II peace treaty, calling it a "major victory for the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics". After signing the Minsk agreements, Zakharchenko stated that should the Ukrainian authorities violate the terms of the agreements, fail to withdraw from the border, or fail to release the Donetsk POWs, he would take Kharkiv and destroy the Ukrainian battalions in Debaltseve. Additionally, Zakharchenko stated that he had no intention on adhering to the ceasefire within the Debaltseve region. He was subsequently wounded in the leg on 17 February 2015 during the closing stages of the Battle of Debaltseve. In January 2016, he described the battle in July 2014 for the village of Kozhevnia as "a milestone for me", saying that it was "our first offensive. Unfortunately, in the course of fighting we practically destroyed this village. By burning down houses, we saved our lives and the lives of our people."
During the parliamentary election campaign, Zakharchenko told potential voters that he wanted pensions to be "higher than in Poland." Zakharchenko said this was feasible because Donetsk is very rich, "like the United Arab Emirates [...] [the Donetsk people] have coal, metallurgy, natural gas [. . .] [t]he difference between [them] and the Emirates is they don't have a war [in the Emirates] and [Donetsk does]." Zakharchenko promised to build "a normal state, a good one, a just one. [Donetsk] boys died for this, civilians are still being killed for this".
Zakharchenko was in favour of the death penalty.
In an interview with Zakhar Prilepin on Tsargrad TV in late 2016, he said that Britain must be conquered, which would usher in a "Golden Age for Russia". Prilepin, a Russian writer and political activist of the National Bolshevik Party, stated that Zakharchenko is among the top five most popular politicians in Ukraine and could be elected the President of Ukraine. In 2016, Prilepin published a book in which Alexander Zakharchenko is the protagonist.
Human rights abusesEdit
During the War in Donbass there were many cases of forced disappearances in the Donetsk People's Republic. Zakharchenko said that his forces detained up to five "Ukrainian subversives" every day. It was estimated that about 632 people were under illegal detention by separatist forces by 11 December 2014. Freelance journalist Stanislav Aseyev was abducted on 2 June 2017. At first, the de facto DNR government denied knowing his whereabouts, but on 16 July an agent of the DNR's Ministry of State Security confirmed that Aseyev was in their custody and that he is suspected of espionage. Independent media is not allowed to report from the DNR-controlled territory. Amnesty International has demanded that Zakharchenko release Aseyev, but as of July 2018[update] he was still in custody, and had started a hunger strike.
Zakharchenko was killed by a bomb explosion in the café "Separ" on Pushkin Boulevard in Donetsk, on 31 August 2018. Preliminary reports say DNR's finance minister Alexander Timofeyev was also wounded in the blast.
The DNR and the Russian Federation blamed the Ukrainian government authorities; officials in Kiev reject these accusations, stating that Zakharchenko's death was the result of civil strife in the DNR. Initial reports say that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Trapeznikov was appointed acting head of the Donetsk People's Republic.
Funeral and memorial services were scheduled for 2 September, in the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. A three-day mourning period was declared on 1 September, with the start of the new academic year in the territory being postponed until 4 September. The ceremony was attended by South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov, head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov and Russian lawmaker Natalia Poklonskaya.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Zakharchenko's family, calling his death a "contemptible murder". The Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesperson Maria Zakharova blamed Ukraine for the death, claiming that it is "driving its country to the verge of an all-out disaster at increasingly faster speeds". Residents of the Republic of Crimea honoured the memory of Zakharchenko by laying flowers by his portraits in the central square of their capital, Simferopol.
The acting head of the Luhansk People's Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, paid tribute to Zakharchenko at a memorial service in the Republic, saying that the "banner of struggle, lifted by Alexander Zakharchenko, will never fall". He also said that the Donbass region "will not forgive Zakharchenko's murder".
- Oplot must have existed in 2010 for this to be possible, though according to Anna Matveeva, "Oplot (Stronghold) was established in January 2014 as an anti-Maidan group in Kharkiv by Yevgenyi Zhilin" (Matveeva, Anna (2017), Through times of trouble, p. 103).
TASS stated that "Oplot" was established in 2010, partly to help the families of ex-servicemen in the militsiya and the armed forces, and partly the prevention of the heroisation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the financing of the excavation of the remains of the Red Army soldiers, and the care of monuments to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. (Здание Донецкого горсовета захватили активисты харьковской организации "Оплот" [The offices of Donetsk city council have been seized by activists of the Kharkiv organization "Oplot"], TASS, 16 April 2014)
- "Self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic to elect its leader, lawmakers". TASS Russian News Agency. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
- Главе ДНР Александру Захарченко присвоено воинское звание генерал-майор [Chapter DNR Alexander Zakharchenko promoted to the rank of Major General], Donetsk Republic News, 28 August 2016, retrieved 1 September 2018 "(machine translation)".
- Александру Захарченко присвоили звание генерал-майора ЛНР [Alexander Zakharchenko was given the rank of major general LC], lenta.ru, 24 February 2015, retrieved 1 September 2018 (machine translation)
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- Carol, Oliver (1 September 2018), "Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko killed in explosion, several separatist commanders in eastern Ukraine have met their end in suspicious circumstances", The Independent, retrieved 2 September 2018
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- The head of Oplot told about lobbying of the Zakharchenko's candidacy on a post of the head of DPR (Глава "Оплота" рассказал о лоббировании кандидатуры Захарченко на пост главы "ДНР"). Dozhd. 4 November 2014
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- Prilepin placed Zakharchenko into the top–5 popular politicians of Ukraine (Прилепин определил Захарченко в топ-5 популярных политиков Украины). Donpress. 17 July 2017
- Russian propaganda spotted in Zakharchenko the new president of Ukraine (Российская пропаганда увидела в Захарченко нового президента Украины). Gazeta.ua. 25 October 2017
- Prilepin told about the "covered sociology": Alexander Zakharchenko has 100% chance to make to the second round at the presidential elections in Ukraine (Прилепин рассказал о "закрытой социологии": У Александра Захарченко есть 10О%-й шанс выйти во второй тур на выборах президента Украины). Antifascist. 17 July 2017
- "I want that Alexander Zakharchenko would become the president of Ukraine" – Zakhar Prilepin ("Хочу, чтобы Александр Захарченко стал президентом Украины" – Захар Прилепин). Rusvesna. 21 June 2016
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