Looking for Ukrainians to lead the separatist movement

Anti-Russia protest at a Ukrainian center in New York, photo by Sean Rocha

Anti-Russia protest at a Ukrainian center in New York, photo by Sean Rocha

 

There is much that is sobering about the situation in Ukraine: sometimes it appears large-scale war is imminent, at other times Vladimir Putin seems willing to keep things at a low boil.  Yet the New York Times today ran this inadvertently comedic dispatch from Donetsk, the unofficial capital of rebel (that is, pro-Russian) held Ukraine.  Writing of the ‘Ukrainianization’ of the separatist movement in which Russian leaders have been replaced by Ukrainians, Andrew Kramer says:

Finding competent, charismatic leaders for the separatist forces and governments has always been hard. At various times, senior positions have been held by the owner of a dog behavior school, a man who performed as Santa Claus, the operator of a Ponzi scheme and a reputed organized crime boss. But with the rebels’ sagging military fortunes, the quest for able leadership has grown desperate. [Science fiction novelist Fyodor] Berezin’s elevation to deputy minister of defense, by his own account in part owing to his literary accomplishments, is a case in point.

[…]

Mr. Berezin now serves under a little-known fellow Ukrainian, Mr. Kononov, who uses the nickname “the czar” in his duties as defense minister. Before the war, Mr. Berezin, 54, supplemented book proceeds with a day job as a purchasing official for a university, buying janitorial supplies. In the 1980s, he served in the Soviet Army with a rank of captain.

Kramer also recounts the too-coincidental-to-be-believed tale of a single spot in front of the Ramada hotel where drunken rebels have crashed cars three times within the last month.  You can read the full sordid details on the Times website.

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