Malorossiya: Information War Ploy or Real Revolution?


July 18, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by Jafe Arnold – 

On July 18th in Donetsk, the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, proclaimed the founding of a new state, Malorossiya (“Little Russia”), in the place of Ukraine which was declared to have finally “demonstrated its bankruptcy.” According to Zakharchenko, the establishment of a new, independent state in the likes of Malorossiya could help stop the conflict in Donbass.

As the DPR’s Minister of Revenues and Duties, Alexander Timofeev, has stated, the proclaimed Malorossiya will be a federal state featuring broad autonomy, its capital in Donetsk, and the flag of Bogdan Khmelnitsky as its state flag. According to Timofeev, a constitution will be adopted at a popular referendum. The minister also emphasized that the creation of Malorossiya does not contradict the Minsk Agreements.

The Constitutional Act on the Establishment of Malorossiya declares that the established state will maintain a non-aligned status but will continue to pursue accession to the Union State of Russia and Belorussia. The document also enumerates the social policy of the new state in considerable detail, emphasizing struggling against oligarchy, developing people’s control in the economy, establishing state concerns, etc. The founding document also declares that elements of direct democracy will be introduced alongside criminal liability for propagating the ideas of Ukrainian Nazism and its collaborators (OUN-UPA, etc.). 

To say the least, this news is like a thunder bolt from a clear sky. In just the matter of hours since the declaration was made in Donetsk, the first criticisms of the initiative have already surfaced. Curiously, or perhaps rather tellingly, the authorities of the Lugansk People’s Republic have first and foremost criticized the declaration. For instance, the Chairman of the People’s Council of the LPR, Vladimir Degtyarenko, claimed: “The Lugansk People’s Republic did not sent its official delegates to Donetsk to participate in the meeting of representatives of Ukraine’s regions. Moreover, we were not even aware of the intention to hold this event and this issue was not agreed upon with us.” Degtyarenko also stressed that “at the moment, the feasibility of such a step is questionable” insofar as “such decisions can only be made upon taking into account the opinion of the people. Moreover, we are currently observing the Minsk Agreements, to which there is no alternative.” 

The LPR’s envoy to the Minsk negotiations, Vladislav Deynego, also claims that the establishment of the new state of Malorossiya is untimely. Deynego was supported in his statement by his Donetsk colleague, the speaker of the People’s Council of the DPR and representative of the republic to the Minsk group, Denis Pushilin. The latter complained that the People’s Council of the DPR did not participate in the initiative’s deliberation. The criticism voiced of the Malorossiya project in the DPR and LPR speaks to the peoples’ republics’ different approaches and reflects an ideological and political struggle within the ruling institutions of the DPR and LPR. 

Russia’s special envoy to the Minsk talks, Boris Gryzlov, has suggested that this project is in itself inconsistent with the Minsk Agreements. On the other hand, in Grzylov’s opinion, everything fits into place if this project is considered an element of information war. To build on Gryzlov’s assessment, allow us to recall that Ukraine is constantly on the attack in demanding that Minsk 2 be abandoned, the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone be ended, and martial law be imposed instead. Zakharchenko’s announcement can quite logically be understood as an element of information war in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side’s reaction has been as expected. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has promised that Kiev will re-assert control over Donbass and Crimea and stressed that “the ‘Novorossiya project’ was buried.” Poroshenko has not clarified why he chose this term, and not “Malorossiya” as the new project has been christened.

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As for the founding congress itself and its participants’ plans, there are still more questions than answers. We can, however, direct our attention to one detail: delegates from different regions of the former Ukraine attended the founding congress of Malorossiya and expressed hope that the proclaimed federal state with its center in Donetsk will help save Russian lands from the criminal Kiev regime. While there is still little detailed information as to the composition of the participating assembly, it is obvious that the event had its eyes on the numerous political emigrants in Russia, or rather Moscow, who fled after the coup d’etat in Kiev. These political exiles continue to secretly maintain contacts with their colleagues and compatriots and are well-informed as to the mood within different sections of the Ukrainian population, including among security structures and political circles. 

Let us also recall that political emigrants #1 and #2, the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and ex-Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov, have been increasingly politically active as of late, especially the latter. Just several days ago, Azarov stated that he expects to return to his homeland soon. It would be logical to assume that these two events are interrelated. While it is unknown whether Azarov was present at the congress in Donetsk (he probably was not), even if Azarov and Zakharchenko are in different parties, they share the same strategic goal – “restarting” the state of Ukraine on new ideological and political principles, and even with a new name.

I happen to agree with Boris Gryzlov. Today’s announcement out of Donetsk undoubtedly belongs to the information war context. The proclamation also certainly goes beyond the Minsk Agreements, but then again, so does the daily shelling of Donbass cities by Ukrainian artillery and Kiev’s attempts to overturn and distort the implementation of the agreements’ provisions. 

The Donetsk People’s Republic, its leader, Alexander Zakharchenko (the only authoritative politician in Donbass), and his supporters are merely turning the tables on Ukraine. Zakharchenko is countering the bombardment of Donbass cities with not only a tough, defensive response, but with threatening to liquidate the pseudo-Nazi, pseudo-oligarchical state of Ukraine altogether, and build a new state in its place. 

Indeed, a lot of combustible material has accumulated in Ukraine’s regions, and all that is left is providing a burning match. Therefore, this information war project could easily turn into a military and political reality. 

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Therefore, I propose that the plans to establish “Malorossiya” be taken in all seriousness. 

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