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Anarchy in the Donbas: Russian proxies turn on each other

Anarchy in the Donbas: Russian proxies turn on each other
Translated by: Alya Shandra

The Russia-backed militants are unable to create a single center of command in the occupied territories, which is why anarchy reigns in Ukraine’s Donbas (click map to enlarge).



Apart from the regular Russian army, the territories under the Russian-backed separatists’ control are under the influence of a number of groups that are in a state of permanent war.

Formally, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) is governed by Ihor Plotnitskyi, a signatory of the Minsk protocol. But a part of his revolutionary inclined subordinates has formed an oppositional “war group” inside the LNR, intending to cancel out the truce that came as a result of the protocol. This group includes the so-called:

“LNR Minister of Interior” Igor Kornet, “LNR Minister of Defense” Oleh Buhrov who has the Zoria battalion under his command, “LNR Premier-Minister” Hennadiy Tsyplakov, “LNR Energy Minister” Dmytro Liapin, Don battalion commander Orlov. 

This group is constantly involved in provocations, shelling the Ukrainian-controlled city of Shchastia from Vesela Hora. The Zoria and Don battalions consist mainly of Chechens and Serbs and are especially cruel. But the main part of the occupied Luhansk Oblast is controlled by atamans that wage war as they want without submitting to the control of the center, and, moreover, occasionally engage in internal clashes and shootings.

Ihor Plotnytskiy


The Leshiy, Zoria, and Don battalions are situated in Luhansk. Also, the LNR “army” includes the Batman rapid response team and Rusich sabotage and intelligence group, together with the Rus female battalion.

Batman division

Stakhanov, Pervomaisk, Irmino, Slovianoserbsk 

The cities are occupied by the “Kazaki national guard,” which is not accountable to the LNR. This group is being directed by a “commandant” –  an antisemitic mason Pavlo Driomov with the callsign “Batia” (“the Gaffer”), the self-proclaimed mayor of Pervomaisk Yevhen Ishchenko, a twice-convicted resident of Russia with a callsign “Malysh,” and the former mayor of Stakhanov Serhiy Zhevlakov.

Pavlo Driomov (“Batia”)

Alchevsk, partially Pervomaisk and the region of Debaltseve 

Are under control of the Prizrak (“Ghost”) brigade of Oleksiy Mozgovyi, who is roughly subordinate to the so-called “LNR.”

Oleksiy Mozgovyi

Krasnodon, Rovenky, Antratsyt, Krasnyi Luch (border with Russia) 

Is under control of cossacks of Mykola Kozitsyn, who is subordinate to nobody. Other militants do not cooperate with him. But he reigns free on these territories because he has a large militant group. On the elections to LNR he plans to support the candidature of “colonel” Buhrov, Plotnitskyi’s main contestant from the “war group” and a proponent of disrupting the Minsk protocol.

Mykola Kozitsyn


Is under the control of the the “Stas Synelnykov Fist Cossack sotnia.” Recently, the militants from Antratsyt and Sverdlovsk started fighting each other for territory. Antratsyt cossaks decided to win back Sverdlovsk from the local militants. They succeeded in occupying the local Security Service administrative building of Sverdlovsk after a fierce battle. The Sverdlovsk group turned for support to Russian mercenaries that were in the neighboring Chervonopartyzansk. The Russians not only threw Kozitsyn’s Antratsyt militants from out of Sverdlovsk, but gave a few kicks to the local Sverdlovsk groups.


Right now the border of LNR with Russia in Izvaryne is controlled by the August battalion, which is part of LNR’s “border service.”


Unlike the anarchy in Luhansk Oblast, Donetsk Oblast terrorists have some sort of a military structure, but one that is fragile and breaks constantly. For instance, the “DNR Defence Minister” Volodymyr Kononov, nicknamed “Tsar,” is formally subordinated to the main terrorist Oleksandr Zakharchenko (commander of the so-called “DNR army”). However, there are rumors spreading that the terrorist Defense Ministry could soon be headed by another candidate, the terrorist Ihor Bezler, aka “Bes.” It seems to be the position of “Tsar” has weakened and “Bes” is regarded as one of the possible candidates (by some even as the main candidates) for the post of “Minister.” Zakharchenko even made him a “general” for holding Horlivka. However, according to the latest data of the Military Council of the terrorists’ “People’s Front,” the leader of Horlivka militants has become totally unmanageable. In particular, Bezler “canceled” all the documents issued by DNR and introduced his own permit system in Horlivka. This gives reason to think that any option of a military alliance between terrorists in principle impossible.

DNR has only two such so-called “general” – Petrovskiy aka “Hmuryi” and “Bes.”

Volodymyr Kononov (“Tsar”)

The largest battalions of DNR are Vostok, Oplot, and the Kalmius artillery brigade, after that the groups of Strelkov, battalion of Bes, the “Russian orthodox army,” and also the brigades of Motorola and Givi. Also, the brigade of Oleksiy Mozgovyi who is operating in Alchevsk (Luhansk Oblast) is also roughly subordinate to the DNR command. The DNR has also announced the creation of a military police under the command of a militant named “Nose” which should deal with criminal offenese. So far all this institution does is ascribe all the crimes – rapes, murders, and marauding – on a nonexistant ghost “Chechen” battalion.

Terrorists Motorolla (left) and Givi (right)


The Vostok battalion, Kalmius brigade and surviving parts of Oplot, divisions of Motorolla and Givi are stationed in Donetsk. They are the ones attacking the Donetsk airport heroically defended by Ukrainian forces dubbed “Cyborgs” for their fearlessness.

Vostok battalion


From the beginning of military actions it is controlled by Ihor Bezler (“Bes”).

Ihor Bezler (“Bes”)


An intelligence squadron called Pole from the 3d DNR army brigade is in the city, under the command of Lieutenant “Kozyr.” Most of the squadron is from Sloviansk, under the command of a militant called “Pol.”


Ilovaisk is under the control of the division of “Givi,” which is currently attacking the Donetsk airport.

Translated by: Alya Shandra
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