A former Russian official has been appointed the “prime minister” of the Kremlin-backed militants controlling a wide swath of Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast.

On Feb. 5, Vladimir Pashkov – a Russian citizen born in the Siberian city of Bratsk – appeared at a meeting of the militants dedicated to “fighting corruption” in their unrecognized state. After the meeting, the press service of the Donetsk militant’s de facto leader, Denis Pushilin, issued a statement, describing Pashkov as the “acting chairman of the government.”

Pashkov previously served as the deputy governor of Russia’s Irkutsk Oblast, where Bratsk is located.

On the official website of the unrecognized “Donetsk People’s Republic,” Pashkov is listed as a deputy to the “prime minister,” Alexander Ananchenko. But Ananchenko has quietly disappeared from the scene, Denys Kazansky, a Ukrainian journalist from Donetsk, reported in a Facebook post.


The Russian-backed militants made no official statement announcing Pashkov’s appointment. However, the Kremlin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, effectively confirmed it while denying Russian state involvement.

“This is not the official delegation of an official,” Peskov said. “In this case, we can only speak of the actions of the individual as a citizen of the Russian Federation. There are no contradictions here.”

Despite overwhelming evidence of Russian involvement in the war in Ukraine’s east, the Kremlin has repeatedly denied playing a role.

Militant leader Pushilin appointed Ukrainian-born Ananchenko “deputy prime minister” of the unrecognized “republic” on Sept. 7, 2018. A few months later, he became the “prime minister.”

Previously, Ananchenko was an advisor to Serhiy Kurchenko, a Ukrainian businessman who grew rich through his close ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. After Yanukovych was ousted by the EuroMaidan Revolution in February 2014 and fled to Russia, Kurchenko also moved to Moscow.

Ananchenko is also believed to be a henchman of former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. In January, Kozak was appointed the Kremlin’s point person on Ukraine.


Pashkov also has connections to Kurchenko and his business empire. After leaving office in Irkutsk Oblast, he ran Kurchenko’s holding company Vneshtorgservis and established several other firms.

Registered in another unrecognized state, Georgia’s South Ossetia region, the Vneshtorgservis controls the nine largest factories in Donetsk Oblast and the three largest in Luhansk Oblast, which is also partially occupied by the Kremlin, the EurasiaNet.org news site reported.

In February 2017, the Security Service of Ukraine accused Pashkov of financing the Russian-backed militants in Luhansk through his pocket charitable foundation.

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