September 24, 2016 – Fort Russ –
Translated by J. Arnoldski –
**The following commentary was submitted to Fort Russ by an insider source in Lugansk who wished to remain anonymous.**
Over the past few days, Russian and Ukrainian media have been overwhelmed with numerous publications about an allegedly averted coup attempt in the Lugansk People’s Republic. On September 21st, these rumors gained visible caricature with the official statement made by the republic’s head, Igor Plotnitsky. However, his statement contains more emotion and vague hints than concrete facts.
Today, the media’s spreading of the topic continued. One of the most read news stories of the day in the Russian press was the news that Gennady Tsypkalov, the ex-prime minister of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, has committed suicide. Interfax news agency referred to the statement of LPR General Prosecutor Sergey Rakhno, who reported that Tsypkalov was arrested along with one of his assistants and one of the leaders of the LPR’s People’s Militia, Vitaly Kiselev. Pay attention to the fact that the People’s Militia of the LPR fulfills the functions of the Ministry of Defense of the unrecognized republic.
According to Rakhno, Tsypkalov killed himself “probably upon realizing the depth of his criminal activities.” It was also announced that the former chairman of the republic’s National Council, Aleksey Karyakin, is wanted.
Additional information on what is happening in the republic is still nowhere to be found. However, being in the LPR myself, I can state that the situation in the republic is rather peaceful at the present moment. If something out of the ordinary political process is really happening in the LPR, then it can be classified as a “storm in a teacup.”
This is not the first time that political showdowns in the LPR have become the subject of speculation and rumors to the delight of Ukrainian “patriots.” The head of the republic, Igor Plotnitsky, being devoid of even a shred of the charisma that the head of the neighboring Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko wields, is not very popular in the republic. Plus, he is surrounded by a string of scandalous revelations involving corruption. For example, the news of the sale of coal to the Ukrainians bypassing the LPR’s budget gave rise to a huge scandal.
Objectively speaking, Ukraine is not interested in removing Plotnitsky from the post of head of the republic. Such a partner, albeit an unofficial one, quite satisfies the Ukrainian side. The coal trade is saving the Ukrainian energy system from a severe fuel shortage, especially in the run up to the upcoming winter.
On the other hand, the republics are similarly not delighted by any radical change of government, especially if these changes are accompanied by acts of violence and lead to the weakening of the LPR’s defense capacity. Neighboring Russia, which spends huge funds on humanitarian assistance to the unrecognized republics, is also not interested in the appearance of another point of tension.
In the unfolding situation, all that remains is waiting for further information and skeptically treating any news that appears.