Perhaps, the outcome of future elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) can be bet on the winner (9 to 1), and this would be acting “DPR” leader Denis Pushilin. With the same ratio, we can bet on the absence of global changes in the foreign policy of the so-called “DPR.”
Head of the terrorist organization "Donetsk People's Republic" Aleksander Zakharchenko died in Donetsk downtown on August 31 in the result of a car blast. This death has radically changed the situation with the elections in the quasi-state: earlier this issue was actually out of the agenda, but now it has become inevitable.
The first week of September was tensed by the confrontation between the three main contenders for power: “DPR” vice-prime ministers Dmitry Trapeznikov, Alexander Timofeev and “head of DPR the parliament” Denis Pushilin. The latter became the head of the "DPR." He benefited from a loophole in the "DPR legislation" - although according to the "constitution," the "First Deputy Prime Minister" becomes the successor to the head, he was never appointed, which helped Pusilin legitimately become a temporary head of the quasi-state.
Periodically, "public opinion polls" appear in the media space, and their authors claim that the surveys are anonymous, apparently to somehow make them believe in their results. However, the polls were conducted on the basis of the "republican" "Phoenix" communications operator, so its hard to believe in its anonymity.
So, according to one of them, during which 1,700 people were allegedly interviewed in Donetsk, Makiyivka, and Horlivka, has demonstrated a great gap between Denis Pushilin's rating and his main rivals ("ex-people's DPR governor" in 2014, Pavel Gubarev, and the main oppositional “DPR” politician Alexander Khodakovsky, who moved to Russia in May 2018).
So, Denis Pushilin had a rating of 11.8%, Alexander Khodakovsky had only 0.1%, Pavel Gubarev out of the list of candidates. A quite unexpected fact was that Igor Strelkov and Oleg Tsarev had a similar rating of 0.1%. The third in the list of popularity became "ex-speaker of the DPR parliament" Andrei Purgin, ousted by Pushilin during the coup in the fall of 2015. The fourth position was taken by the "talking head of the people's militia of the DPR" Eduard Basurin. It did not allow taking the results of the "poll" seriously.
However, the anti-rating of Denis Pushilin is 68%, and this should soften the situation. He is the most known person among the others, which simultaneously is disadvantageous for him since the uncommitted Minsk agreements are associated with his own name.
Elections ended before they began
There was some intrigue in the official ratings of the candidates, however, on the very first day of the official start of the candidates' nomination it has disappeared.
In the morning of September 21, the main rival of Pushilin, "ex-secretary of DPR Security Council" Alexander Khodakovsky said that he was not allowed to enter the territory of the republic.
The ex-battalion commander of the "Vostok" battalion absent in the "official ratings" was considered a real candidate to win elections if they pass at least with a minimum observance of laws and regulations. Khodakovsky's rating could be explained by his military past (in contrast to the office worker Pusilin) as well as dissatisfaction with the socio-economic situation in "DPR." The last commander of the "Vostok" battalion has also criticized Zakharchenko, which ultimately led to his departure from the territory of the self-proclaimed "DPR" in May 2018.
The list of candidates for the post of "head of the DPR" from September 25 includes:
1) Denis Pusilin - head of the "DNR";
2) Pavel Gubarev - former "people's governor" in 2014;
3) Roman Khramenkov - ex-mayor of Yenakiyevo and Horlivka from the self-proclaimed "DPR";
4) Elena Shishkina - lawyer, chairman of the "Ukrainian People's Court," investigating "war crimes of the Ukrainian authorities";
5) Vladimir Medvedev - "Deputy Minister of Education of DPR";
6) Igor Khakimzyanov - former "Defense Minister of DPR," leader of the Radical Party of Ukraine Oleg Lyashko stated about interrogating him in 2014;
7) Ivan Mikhailov - "head of the administration of the Starobeshevsky district of the DPR";
8) Vyacheslav Dyakov - "serviceman of the People's Democratic Republic";
9) Roman Evstifeev - an employee of the administrative structures of the "DPR", the head of the Museum of Combat and Labor Glory of the Union of Afghanistan Veterans Petrovsky district of Donetsk;
10) Valentin Spiridonov - director of the Yenakiyevo Bakery.
Internal changes except external
Ukraine does not really care about who becomes the next “head of the DPR.” Anyway, his activities and even words will be projected by Russia.
The "election" of a new leader will matter for the residents of the uncontrolled part of the Donetsk region.
What to expect from the winner of the "elections"?
Most likely, the winner would try to avoid the militant rhetoric and gradually shift the main task of the authorities for "defending the achievements of the Republic" to its "development." A number of factors should contribute to this - fatigue of the population from military operations, difficult socio-economic situation, and in the case of Pushilin, his image of a person who did not take part in hostilities.
Some steps in this direction, by the way, have already been made. For example, the customs duty on import of poultry meat in the "DPR" has been reduced, which is expected to reduce the price of chicken meat.
The rating of Denis Pushin is 11.8%, Andriy Purgin has 0.8%, Eduard Basurin, and Dmitry Trapeznikov have 0.5%, "mayor" of Horlivka Ivan Prikhodko has 1.5% support of the locals.
A number of various alternative polls in social networks have demonstrated much greater support for the Horlivka mayor. Of course, such polls should not be taken seriously, especially since the Horlivka mayor is very active "DPR officials" in social media, and there is no doubt that Prikhodko has much more than 1.5% of support. And the very fact of placing him in second place indirectly speaks about the recognition of such popularity in official structures.
Previously, the possibility of nominating Prikhodko as a candidate to the "head of DPR" was discussed, however, it did not happen.
In this regard, there might be two options - either Horlivka mayor can count on the increase as a recognition of his merits and rating, or he might be taken as a possible competitor. Some "heads of cities and districts of DPR" might expect for resignation if the new "head of the DPR" decides that they are not loyal to him.
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