Continuing with this piece by Evgeny Krutikov, along with this moving piece, about Zakharchenko’s widow, Natalia, who is now assuming a role of moral leadership for the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).
Regardless of ranks and/or the chain of command, in the DPR the three actually most valuable people (in terms of DPR independence and successful separation from the Ukraine) consisted of Alexander Zakharchenko, along with Mikhail Tolstykh (=Givi) and Arsen Pavlov (=Motorola). All three of these men, all deriving from humble working-class backgrounds, have been assassinated, one after the other, presumably (most likely) by the Ukrainian secret services. Who, as my commenter Svolochenko points out, are no rookies at Mafia-style rub-outs, despite their incompetence in other arenas of human activity. In striking down Motorola and Givi, the assassins struck at the heart of Donetsk; with Zakharchenko they struck at its brain and command center.
Krutikov points out the similarities between the lax security culture of the DPR and that of other unrecognized post-Soviet republics such as South Ossetia. In fact, not long before his death, Zakharchenko and his wife (Natalia) paid a visit to South Ossetia. The occasion was commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the 2008 war. At that time South Ossetia suffered casualties from Gruzian aggression but gained a prize in the end: Russian recognition of its “independent” status. [I put “independent” in quotes, because the concept is actually laughable. The true aim of the South Ossetian entity is to become a province of Russia. Fake independence is simply baby steps to this goal.] “Independence” brought with it a guarantee of Russian military protection. No more dicking around with European security agencies and their fake guarantees! A very solid result for the Ossetian people. Krutikov mentions that the security culture in South Ossetia always left something to be desired, due to the local “mentality” (these people are Caucasians after all, in addition to being Russians). It is a culture in which ordinary citizens can easily find themselves dining in the same restaurant as some government bigshot, up to and including the President! Within the so-called “ruling elite” one rarely encounters a proper observing of bureaucratic and diplomatic etiquette; informality reigns everywhere, even in the way people address each other. It’s like, if you joined the army, and your General said “Call me Bob.”
Compared to the Ossetians, the Donetsk delegation was considered downright formal/military, and very seriously Russian. Within the Donetsk delegation, nobody could sneeze without Zakharchenko’s explicit permission. Suddenly you were transported back to the battlefield of Borodino. Every utterance of Zakharchenko’s was followed by a Dalek-like response of слушаюсь (“I obey”, which is the Russian equivalent of American “Yes sir!”), or так точно (“Exactly so!”). The DPR folks observed a strict military protocol and observance to the chain of command; as befits an actual army. Krutikov points out that this strictness has been a later evolution, since the DPR emerged as a somewhat anarchistic partisan-type formation; yet over time they have developed into a properly Russian military-type culture.
The discerning reader will have seen a contradiction between this section of the narrative (=the military stricness of the DPR leadership) and the earlier section, which is critical of DPR laxness that gave the assassins an opening. The contradiction is explained by Krutikov distinguishing between strict military discipline and the “laxness” of daily life…
[to be continued]