Alexander Zakharchenko

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Alexander Zakharchenko
Александр Захарченко
2014-12-20. Праздник солидарности 069 (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Zakharchenko in 2014
Head of the Donetsk People's Republic
In office
4 November 2014 – 31 August 2018
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byOffice established
(Pavel Gubarev as People's Governor)
Succeeded byDmitry Trapeznikov (Acting)
Denis Pushilin
Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic
In office
7 August 2014 – 31 August 2018
DeputyVladimir Antyufeyev
Ravil Khalikov
Alexander Borodai
Andrei Purgin
Preceded byAlexander Borodai
Succeeded byDmitry Trapeznikov (Acting)
Military commandant of Donetsk
In office
16 May 2014 – 6 July 2014
Preceded byoffice established
Succeeded byIgor Strelkov
Personal details
Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko

(1976-06-26)26 June 1976
Donetsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died31 August 2018(2018-08-31) (aged 42)
Pushkin Boulevard, Donetsk, Donetsk People's Republic/Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Cause of deathExplosion
Resting placeDonetskoe More Cemetery
Political partyDonetsk Republic[1]
SpouseNatalia Zakharchenko
Alma materDonetsk National Technical University
Military service
AllegianceDonetsk People's Republic Donetsk People's Republic
Novorossiya (confederation) Novorossiya
Branch/serviceUnited Armed Forces of Novorossiya
RankEpaulets Major General Air Force of the Russian Federation.png Major General DNR[2]
Major General LNR[3]
CommandsOplot Battalion
Battles/warsRusso-Ukrainian War

Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko[a] (26 June 1976 – 31 August 2018) was a Ukrainian separatist leader[4][5] who was the head of state and Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, a self-proclaimed state and rebel group which declared independence from Ukraine on 11 May 2014.[6][7][8][9] Zakharchenko was appointed Prime Minister in August 2014 after his predecessor Alexander Borodai resigned, and went on to win the early November 2014 election for the position.[10]

Zakharchenko was killed in 2018 when a bomb exploded in a café that he frequently visited.[11][12][13]

Early and personal life

Zakharchenko graduated from technical college. He then worked as a mine electrician before opening a business in the mining industry. He studied with the law institute of the Interior Ministry.[14][15] He was godfather to Alexander Timofeyev's (ru) children.[16]

Political career

In 2010, Zakharchenko became head of the Donetsk branch of OPLOT, a pro-Russian militant organization established in Kharkiv by Yevgeny Zhilin.[b][better source needed]

On 16 April 2014, 20 members of Oplot (including Zakharchenko), armed with clubs, rifles and some automatic weapons, occupied the offices of Donetsk city council, demanding a referendum on the status of the region.[17][18]

By April 2014, he was the commander of a local militia in Donetsk (Oplot[14]). The members of this militia were mainly from civic and martial arts groups.[19] Zakharchenko was appointed the "military commandant of Donetsk" on 16 May 2014.[20][15] From May 2014, Zakharchenko played a leading role in the insurgency against Ukraine's central government. On 22 July 2014, he was wounded in the arm during a fight against Ukrainian government forces at Kozhevnia.[14] In late August 2014, the DPR Ministry of Defence announced Zakharchenko's promotion to major general.[2]

Zakharchenko succeeded Alexander Borodai as Prime Minister on 7 August 2014.[21] Borodai then became the DPR Deputy Prime Minister.[22] According to Borodai, Donbas native Zakharchenko succeeded him for a Russian government effort "to try to show the West that the uprising was a grassroots phenomenon".[23] Borodai claims that he personally recommended Zakharchenko as Prime Minister.[23]

Zakharchenko opening a New Year tree in Donetsk in December 2014

In September 2014, Zakharchenko was the lead negotiator for the DPR at the Minsk Protocol, which agreed to a peace plan for the war in Donbas.[24]

During the 2014 Donetsk parliamentary elections, Zakharchenko won the prime ministership with 78.93% of the vote.[25] The day after the elections, the head of Oplot organization Evgeniy Zhylin gave an interview to the Russian television channel Dozhd where he told how Zakharchenko was appointed as a head of Donetsk branch of Oplot and how his candidacy as a leader of the DPR was promoted from Moscow.[26]

In February 2015, Zakharchenko, representing the DPR, agreed to the Minsk II peace treaty, calling it a "major victory for the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics".[27] After signing the Minsk agreements, Zakharchenko stated that should the Ukrainian authorities violate the terms of the agreements, fail to withdraw from the border, or fail to release the Donetsk POWs, he would take Kharkiv and destroy the Ukrainian battalions in Debaltseve. Zakharchenko stated that he had no intention on adhering to the ceasefire within the Debaltseve region.[28]

He was wounded in the leg on 17 February 2015 during the closing stages of the Battle of Debaltseve.[29] In January 2016, he described the battle in July 2014 for the village of Kozhevnia as "a milestone for me", saying that it was "our first offensive. Unfortunately, in the course of fighting we practically destroyed this village. By burning down houses, we saved our lives and the lives of our people."[30]

Political positions

During the 2014 Donbas parliamentary elections campaign, Zakharchenko told potential voters that he wanted pensions to be "higher than in Poland."[31] Zakharchenko said this was feasible because Donetsk is very rich, "like the United Arab Emirates [...] [the Donetsk people] have coal, metallurgy, natural gas [. . .] [t]he difference between [them] and the Emirates is they don't have a war [in the Emirates] and [Donetsk does]."[32] Zakharchenko promised to build "a normal state, a good one, a just one. [Donetsk] boys died for this, civilians are still being killed for this".[31]

Zakharchenko held positions in keeping with conservative sexual ethics. For example, he stated: “…this generation is being raised on democracy, which implies that a family can have two fathers or two mothers. To me, this is categorically unacceptable.”[33]

Zakharchenko was in favour of the death penalty.[34]

In an interview with Zakhar Prilepin on Tsargrad TV in late 2016, he said that Britain must be conquered, which would usher in a "Golden Age for Russia".[35][36] Prilepin, a Russian writer and political activist of the National Bolshevik Party, stated that Zakharchenko was among the top five most popular politicians in Ukraine and could be elected the President of Ukraine.[37][38][39][40] In 2016, Prilepin published a book in which Alexander Zakharchenko is the protagonist.[41]

Human rights abuses

In October 2014, Zakharachenko declared that he can shoot at any Ukrainian city with a clear conscience. In an interview he said: "I don't care at all. If I don't shoot in Avdiivka because my people live there, then I can shoot in any other Ukrainian city, and I won't feel sorry for the civilians or anyone else. This is a different war. You came to kill us, just to destroy us. So you will get what you are doing here".[42]

During the war in Donbas there were many cases of forced disappearances in the Donetsk People's Republic. Zakharchenko said that his forces detained up to five "Ukrainian subversives" every day. It was estimated that about 632 people were under illegal detention by separatist forces by 11 December 2014.[43]

Freelance journalist Stanislav Aseyev was abducted on 2 June 2017 under espionage charges. At first, the de facto DNR government denied knowing his whereabouts, but on 16 July an agent of the DNR's Ministry of State Security confirmed that Aseyev was in their custody and that he was suspected of espionage. Independent media was not allowed to report from the DNR-controlled territory. Amnesty International demanded that Zakharchenko release Aseyev.[44] He was released in 2019.[45]


2018-09-05. Кафе Сепар после взрыва 04.jpg
Café "Separ" after the explosion, with a temporary memorial to Zakharchenko

Zakharchenko was killed by a bomb explosion in the café "Separ" (Ukrainian slang for "separatist") on Pushkin Boulevard in Donetsk, on 31 August 2018.[46] Reports say DNR's finance minister Alexander Timofeyev was also wounded in the blast.[47]

The DNR and the Russian Federation blamed the Ukrainian government authorities. Officials in Kyiv rejected the accusations, stating that Zakharchenko's death was the result of civil strife in the DNR.[48] Initial reports say that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Trapeznikov was appointed acting head of the Donetsk People's Republic.[49]

Funeral and memorial services were scheduled for 2 September, in the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre.[50] A three-day mourning period was declared on 1 September, with the start of the new academic year in the territory being postponed until 4 September.[51]

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Zakharchenko's family, calling his death a "contemptible murder".[52][53] The Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesperson Maria Zakharova blamed Ukraine for the death, claiming that it is "driving its country to the verge of an all-out disaster at increasingly faster speeds".[54] The acting head of the Luhansk People's Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, paid tribute to Zakharchenko at a memorial service in the Republic, saying that the "banner of struggle, lifted by Alexander Zakharchenko, will never fall". He said that the Donbas region "will not forgive Zakharchenko's murder".[55]

On 29 September 2022, law enforcement agencies of the Luhansk People's Republic reportedly provided Ria Novosti with the wiretap between the Security Service of Ukraine officer Alexander Kiyashchenko and his agent, in which he tells that the murderer received 5 million rubles.[56]

See also


  1. ^ Russian: Алекса́ндр Влади́мирович Заха́рченко, IPA: [ɐlʲɪkˈsandr vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪdʑ zɐˈxartɕɪnkə]
    Ukrainian: Олекса́ндр Володи́мирович Заха́рченко, romanizedOleksandr Volodymyrovych Zakharchenko
  2. ^ Oplot must have existed in 2010 for this to be possible, though according to Anna Matveeva, "Oplot (Stronghold) was established in January 2014 as an anti-Maidan group in Kharkiv by Yevgenyi Zhilin" (Matveeva, Anna (2017), Through times of trouble, p. 103).
    TASS stated that "Oplot" was established in 2010, partly to help the families of ex-servicemen in the militsiya and the armed forces, and partly the prevention of the heroisation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the financing of the excavation of the remains of the Red Army soldiers, and the care of monuments to soldiers of the Second World War. (Здание Донецкого горсовета захватили активисты харьковской организации "Оплот" [The offices of Donetsk city council have been seized by activists of the Kharkiv organization "Oplot"], TASS, 16 April 2014)


  1. ^ "Self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic to elect its leader, lawmakers". TASS Russian News Agency. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b Главе ДНР Александру Захарченко присвоено воинское звание генерал-майор [Chapter DNR Alexander Zakharchenko promoted to the rank of Major General], Donetsk Republic News, 28 August 2016, archived from the original on 19 March 2018, retrieved 1 September 2018 "(machine translation)".
  3. ^ Александру Захарченко присвоили звание генерал-майора ЛНР [Alexander Zakharchenko was given the rank of major general LC],, 24 February 2015, retrieved 1 September 2018 (machine translation)
  4. ^ "Ukraine rebel leader Zakharchenko 'wants 100,000 men'". BBC News. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  5. ^ Tisdall, Simon (16 February 2015). "EU gets tough with Russian military leaders – and Soviet-era 'Sinatra'". Retrieved 21 October 2016 – via The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Pro-Russians: Ukraine's Donetsk 'Independent'". 12 May 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Премьер-министром ДНР стал россиянин Александр Бородай". Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Ukraine's bogus referendums". The Economist. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Donetsk leader dismisses Kremlin support claim". Financial Times. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Alexander Zakharchenko named prime minister of eastern Ukraine after 'election'". Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Pro-Russian rebel leader killed in eastern Ukraine blast". The Washington Post. 31 August 2018.
  12. ^ "Pro-Russian rebel leader killed in eastern Ukraine blast". The Guardian. 31 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Alexander Zakharchenko: Mass turnout for Ukraine rebel's funeral". BBC. 2 September 2018.
  14. ^ a b c "Ukraine crisis: Key players in eastern unrest". BBC. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Новая элита Донбасса: неудачники, предатели, романтики, авантюристы, марионетки… Продолжение" [New Elite Donbas: losers, traitors, romance, adventurers, puppets ... Continued]. ОстроВ (Ostrov). 25 June 2014.
  16. ^ Carol, Oliver (1 September 2018), "Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko killed in explosion, several separatist commanders in eastern Ukraine have met their end in suspicious circumstances", The Independent, retrieved 2 September 2018
  17. ^ Matveeva, Anna (2017), Through times of trouble, conflict in Southeastern Ukraine explained from within, Lexington Books, p. 103, ISBN 978-1498543231
  18. ^ Здание Донецкого горсовета захватили активисты харьковской организации "Оплот" [The offices of Donetsk city council have been seized by activists of the Kharkiv organization "Oplot"], TASS, 16 April 2014
  19. ^ "Separatists tighten grip on east Ukraine, EU agrees more sanctions on Moscow". Reuters. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  20. ^ "In cabinet separatists included people close to the "regionals"". Ukrayinska Pravda. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Russian resigns to make way for Ukrainian as new head of 'Donetsk People's Republic'". The Guardian. 8 August 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Boroday tired of 'prime minister'". Ukrayinska Pravda. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  23. ^ a b "Ex-Rebel Leaders Detail Role Played by Putin Aide in East Ukraine". Reuters. 1 May 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Ukraine deal with pro-Russian rebels at Minsk talks". BBC News. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Донецькі бойовики за ніч порахували голоси: "переміг" Захарченко". Українська правда. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  26. ^ The head of Oplot told about lobbying of the Zakharchenko's candidacy on a post of the head of DPR (Глава "Оплота" рассказал о лоббировании кандидатуры Захарченко на пост главы "ДНР"). Dozhd. 4 November 2014
  27. ^ Weaver, Matthew; Luhn, Alec (12 February 2015). "Ukraine ceasefire agreed at Belarus talks". The Guardian. Agencies. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Zakharchenko threatens to occupy Mariupol and Kharkiv". Ukrainian Independent Information Agency. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Ukraine Rebels Celebrate Their Taking of Debaltseve". The New York Times. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  30. ^ Shamanska, Anna (27 January 2016). "Separatist Leader Admits To Razing Ukrainian Village, Hails 'Good' Soviet Ideology". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  31. ^ a b East Ukraine separatists hold vote to gain legitimacy, promise normalcy, Reuters (30 October 2014)
  32. ^ Donetsk People's Republic campaign reveals shambolic tendencies, Financial Times (23 October 2014)
  33. ^ "Violation of LGBTI Rights in Crimea and Donbass: The Problem of Homophobia in Territories Beyond Ukraine's Control" (PDF). Center for Civil Liberties. 2016. p. 24. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  34. ^ The leader of the militants, "DNR" justifies the death penalty, Ukrayinska Pravda (25 February 2016)
  35. ^ KyivPost vol. 21, issue 50 p. 4 (9 December 2016)
  36. ^ "Zakharchenko blames Russia's plight on Anglo-Saxons, says Britain must be conquered. VIDEO". (in Russian). 6 December 2016.
  37. ^ Maksimovich, M. Prilepin: Zakharchenko became one of the most popular politicians in Ukraine (Прилепин: Захарченко стал одним из самых популярных политиков Украины). Replyua. 17 July 2017
  38. ^ Prilepin placed Zakharchenko into the top–5 popular politicians of Ukraine (Прилепин определил Захарченко в топ-5 популярных политиков Украины). Donpress. 17 July 2017
  39. ^ Russian propaganda spotted in Zakharchenko the new president of Ukraine (Российская пропаганда увидела в Захарченко нового президента Украины). 25 October 2017
  40. ^ Prilepin told about the "covered sociology": Alexander Zakharchenko has 100% chance to make to the second round at the presidential elections in Ukraine (Прилепин рассказал о "закрытой социологии": У Александра Захарченко есть 10О%-й шанс выйти во второй тур на выборах президента Украины). Antifascist. 17 July 2017
  41. ^ "I want that Alexander Zakharchenko would become the president of Ukraine" – Zakhar Prilepin ("Хочу, чтобы Александр Захарченко стал президентом Украины" – Захар Прилепин). Rusvesna. 21 June 2016
  42. ^ ""Глава ДНР": я со спокойной совестью могу стрелять в любой украинский город". Obozrevatel. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  43. ^ "Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine: 1 December 2014 to 15 February 2015" (PDF). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 2 March 2015. pp. 4, 9. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  44. ^ "Urgent Action: Imprisoned Journalist Must Be Released" (PDF) (Press release). Amnesty International. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  45. ^ Journalist Stanislav Aseev returns to Ukraine within prisoner swap, 112 Ukraine (29 December 2019)
  46. ^ "Ukrainian Separatist Leader Zakharchenko Killed in Cafe Blast". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 31 August 2018.
  47. ^ Ukraine crisis: Blast kills top Donetsk rebel Zakharchenko, BBC, 31 August 2018
  48. ^ "Стали известны обстоятельства гибели Захарченко" [The circumstances of Zakharchenko's death have become known]. 31 August 2018.
  49. ^ "Deputy PM Dmitry Trapeznikov becomes interim Donetsk People's Republic head". TASS. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  50. ^ "Slain Donetsk head Zakharchenko to be buried on September 2". TASS. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  51. ^ "Zakharchenko's Funerals". Front News International. 1 September 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  52. ^ "После убийства Захарченко Путин пообещал, что "Россия всегда будет с народом Донбасса"". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  53. ^ "Condolences over the tragic death of Alexander Zakharchenko, Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences following the tragic death of Head of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko". President of Russia. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  54. ^ "Russia expects OSCE's assessments in wake of DPR leader's assassination". TASS. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  55. ^ "Donbass will not forgive Zakharchenko's murder – acting head of LPR". TASS. 1 September 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  56. ^ "Источник рассказал, сколько заплатили убийце Захарченко". 29 September 2022.