We Deplore the Dismissal of Andrei Purgin and Urge
September 7, 2015
Updated September 8 & 11, 2015 [See end of post.]
Of the 20 headlines that appeared today, September 7, on the Donetsk News Agency website, which is the premier publication for official DPR information, only one mentions the Donetsk People’s Republic Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko. This, at a time of political crisis, after the sudden and ill-founded dismissal of former DPR People’s Council Speaker Andrei Purgin, who was detained on Friday for defending Council member Alexei Alexandrov as he attempted to re-enter the DPR following a visit to St. Petersburg.
The lone headline reads: DPR Honorably Raised Banner of Heroes who Liberated Donbass in 1943 – Zakharchenko. Not a word about Purgin is mentioned. Why not? Raising a banner carries symbolic significance and is the function of a dignitary, not the duty of a Prime Minister during a time of national crisis. Has Zakharchenko been demoted to the status of figurehead, in what looks increasingly like a Kremlin-orchestrated political “coup” that has raised Denis Pushilin to second-in-command and rendered him the primary spokesman for the Donetsk People’s Republic?
Zakharchenko had been, until the July Shirokino demilitarization fiasco (which we suspect was forced by Kremlin pressure on the DPR leadership), a powerful and outspoken Head of State of the Republic. He demanded nothing short of de facto independence for his country under a liberal technical interpretation of the Minsk Package of Measures. After the Shirokino sham, he faded from the public scene for several weeks, then resumed his impressive role as standard-bearer of Minsk and the goal of de facto independence as permitted by a literal reading of the agreement.
Now, since Purgin’s dismissal, Zakharchenko has once more gone momentarily silent. During a political shakeup of this magnitude, he should be at the forefront, playing the role of premier statesman. Yet it is Pushilin who is doing the talking–Pushilin, the man we most suspect of subverting the DPR.
We consider the dismissal of Andrei Purgin to be a crisis of national proportions, and await official word from the Republic’s Head of State. Yet the DPR government website dnr-online has published no statement by Zakharchenko, apparently since the event. A video of Denis Pushilin was posted on September 5 entitled Attempts to Destabilize the Situation Inside were Unsuccessful – Denis Pushilin. Unsuccessful? Really? It seems to us just the opposite. We have seen no English translation of the Pushilin video, but the title is telling. Does Pushilin expect us to believe that the dismissal of Andrei Purgin did not “destabilize the situation inside” the DPR? Ironically, and in contradistinction to Pushilin’s claim, it seems the attempt to destabilize the internal situation by possible Kremlin instrument Denis Pushilin himself was actually quite successful.
Why does Quemado Institute put forth this preliminary opinion? Appearances may be deceptive, and we are not ready to offer a conclusive analysis, which could end up quite different. But as reports pile up, or are conspicuously absent, the picture looks more and more like a foreign-instigated political “coup” and less and less like routine procedure meant to ensure DPR stability, as Pushilin claims. (We place “coup” in quotes; it would not be a real coup unless, God forbid, Zakharchenko were overthrown.) We post this to get the attention of the leaders and urge corrective action, before little by little, through one small mistake after another, the self-determination of the Donetsk People’s Republic evaporates into a vanished hope of history.
Our recommendations to the Donetsk People’s Republic: We urge the DPR government to:
- Reinstate Andrei Purgin as Speaker of the People’s Council, This is something Zakharchenko surely has the power to do. Purgin should remain Speaker of the People’s Council, while Pushilin is reinstated as deputy speaker. No penalties should be incurred by anyone involved in the incident. In other words, reverse the mistake, plain and simple, and let everyone forget about it.
- Allow public rallies. Let demonstrations in Purgin’s support take place and not be dispersed, as Saturday’s rally in Donestsk was, according to reports, (Peaceful citizens who were arrested at the pro-Purgin rally still had not been located by their families as of Monday, September 7.) If the Republic is truly democratic, the government should encourage public participation. Rallies should be provided for. Disagreement should be welcome.
- Resist Kremlin pressure. According to an opinion attributed to Igor Strelkov, which we find plausible, increased sanctions against Russia have pushed the Kremlin into forcing Andrei Purgin’s dismissal and Denis Pushilin’s seizure of power. Pushilin is believed more ammenable to the influence of Moscow in its blind drive toward totalitarian enforcement of Minsk, under which Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be restored no matter what the cost in human terms. Vladimir Putin is guilty of a double standard here — one for Donbass, another for Crimea. Were he honest about seeking to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he would give Crimea back to Kiev. Were he sincere about protecting ancestral Russians, he would shelter the DPR/LPR as he sheltered the Crimean peninsula. Putin has become a weak and blind shadow, a failure in his dealings with the West. His negligence is unforgivable. We tend to attribute his recent moral weakness to his divorce from his former wife Lyudmila, which coincided with the onset of Ukrainian upheaval and Putin’s appeasement of Atlantic factions. Divorce can weaken a man, and while we lack direct evidence, we hope to get Putin’s attention by postulating this insulting explanation, which seems to be the only one that fits.
- Abolish the death penalty. We have not seen official reports that the DPR has recently enacted a death penalty for treason, but there have been rumors that the law was applied at least twice, adding up to an unnerving likelihood. The death penalty is inhuman, used only by brutal dictatorships such as that of China and the USA, its purpose apparently to dehumanize the population. The irreversible penalty invites abuse, especially when applied to treason, as one man’s treason is another man’s free speech. “Treason” is subjective, and in totalitarian regimes, for example, can even be applied to journalists,. Of course the DPR, if the rumors be true, has imposed the supreme penalty reserved for God only on Ukrainian neo-Nazi murderers. But standards can slip, and therein lies the danger. Moreover, prosecuting enemy combatants violates the Minsk universal amnesty provision, which, if nullified, would put the DPR government and militia, as well as Vladimir Putin and igor Strelkov, at risk of indictment by the West. Minsk was tailored to avoid this kind of mess. The DPR and LPR have more interest than any other parties to the conflict in upholding universal amnesty, since the West, while itself the most guilty of war crimes, also enjoys the greater political influence worldwide.
- Allow freedom of the press. Donetsk has no big newspaper of its own, a newspaper that might be called, let’s say, The Donetsk Daily Herald. Most big cities have one. Donetsk has three news agencies that we know of, the official government site in Russian dnr-online, DAN (Donetsk News Agency) also only in Russian, and Novorossia Today. These are good for official news. But only Novorossia Today publishes political commentary and reports of the broader world, and then on a limited scale. We have researched this issue for a year and a half. The explanation that survives for the lack of this much needed service is suppression of free speech by the DPR. Journalists suffer from writer’s block even under minor censorship. The DPR needs a free press to broadcast their case to the world. A free press also provides checks and balances on internal coups and helps prevent strategic mistakes, which the DPR has begun to make in rapid succession since the withdrawal from Shirokino. A free press would strengthen, not threaten, the long-term survival of the Republic.
Our recommendations to Vladimir Putin: We urge Putin to
- Straighten out his thinking and stand up to the West. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrongly demands he “use his considerable influence” to constrain the rebels, Putin should reply, “H*ll no. I have neither the power nor the legal right. I am not involved in the Donbass conflict. Nor will I abuse my considerable influence by applying it to unethical ends, such as forcing the people of Donbass to live with their murderers. I am a strong leader of the world’s most powerful nation. I refuse to bow to your pressure.” As a result of foreign pressure applied by leaders like Merkel, Moscow is forced to resort to subversive means to exert its “considerable influence”. Such as possibly arranging the murder of the highly popular LPR Ghost Brigade commander Alexei Mozgovoy, or forcing the DPR to withdraw unilaterally from the contact line at significant risk to its citizens, and now, possibly orchestrating the “Pushilin coup” which threatens de facto independence under Minsk. (So did Merkel murder Mozgovoi? In a manner of speaking, perhaps she did.)
- Cease recognizing Petro Poroshenko’s illegal regime in Kiev. This does not jeopardize Minsk. Other Minsk participants do not, for example, recognize the DPR/LPR governments, yet still allow them to participate in the peace talks. Denouncing Poroshenko’s “government” would be a show of Putin’s strength and integrity that is bound to inspire Western respect, possibly leading Western nations to actually reduce sanctions. It is contempt and disrespect for Putin’s lack of integrity that inspired sanctions in the first place.
Our recommendations to Angela Merkel: The German Chancellor should:
- Stop pressuring Putin to take actions he has no legal power to take. Recognize that Putin is not involved in the Donbass war. Cease recommending sanctions on Russia to appease Poroshenko and the USA. Stop forcing the Kremlin to resort to crimes to exert its “influence”.
- Recognize the leadership of the Donbass Republics. HOLD A DIALOGUE DIRECTLY WITH THEM. Arrange a teleconference with Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky, then meet them in person on neutral ground.
Our recommendation to the UN, OSCE, and the Normandy Trio: It is advisable that you:
- Throw out Minsk. Replace it with an agreement granting independence to the Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, based on internal public referendums. This action can follow the Kosovo precedent, which legally applies, as we have shown in our commentary Novorossiya Independence: Does Kosovo Precedent Ensure UN Recognition?
- Act like rational adults. Be done once and for all with this absurd and inhumane conflict.
To our readers: This commentary may be deleted or modified at any time, as the true story behind events emerges, or as our analysis is refined. There is very little accurate information available to English speakers. Our analysis inevitably involves a lot of guesswork.
September 8, 2015 Update:
Purgin Confirmed Home After Four-Day
Detention by the DPR MGB
Edited autotranslation by Quemado Institute
September 8, 2015 17:06
Former parliament speaker of the Donetsk People’s Republic Andrei Purgin says that now “theoretically” there is no threat to his life and promises to tell the reasons for his arrest and detention in the DPR MGB on Wednesday, about the same time he told RIA Novosti by telephone. “I am now at home, like since twenty minutes ago. I will comment on the situation tomorrow. I am not ready, because I just came home after four days. All these four days I was detained in the Ministry of State Security [MGB],” he said. When asked whether it is possible to say that now his life is not in danger, Purgin said: “In theory, yes.” Purgin did not answer the question about the reasons for his arrest. “Let me comment on that tomorrow. Today, I’m taking a timeout. I’m not ready to think physically. My wife is with me and Alexandrov [Jr., but not Alexandrov Sr.] is also with me,” added Purgin. [As of September 8, Purgin still does not know the whereabouts of Alexei Alexandrov Sr., who is wanted for “exceeding his powers”. — QI editor]
September 11, 2015 Update
An interview with Andrei Purgin following his September 8 release is avaiable at Andrei Purgin Interview After His Release 9-10-15 (Updated)