Putin’s shadow Donbass government exposed


President Vladimir Putin has sent Russian mercenaries to fight in Syria and Ukraine, decorating them for their service and concealing their casualties, according to a new report:

An investigation published by Fontanka, an independent Russian newspaper, found that the Kremlin had hired members of a private military company called Wagner to go to Syria and Ukraine. The use of contractors gives Mr Putin a deniable way of sending trained personnel to both countries.

The revelation came as German newspaper BILD published details of a secret document detailing Russia’s real plans for the occupied territory of the Donbass:

The records of the “Inter-ministerial Commission for the Provision of Humanitarian Aid for the affected Areas in the Southeast of the Regions of Donetsk and Luhansk” from 23rd October 2015 reveal what observers have long feared: The Russian government is steering all affairs of the “separatist areas”  in the east of Ukraine.

Experts to whom BILD showed the document saw practically no difference from commission records concerning the Russian state itself. Deputy leaders of five ministries of the Russian Federation head the relevant cross-departmental working groups; the secret service “FSB” has supervision over each working group.

Even four members of the Russian homeland (!) secret service “FSB” are named. Only the Commission Chairman and the Liaison Officer to the Government of Russia are above them in terms of hierarchy. RTWT

Bowing to pressure from international donors, the Ukrainian Parliament voted on Tuesday to remove a prosecutor general who had clung to power for months despite visible signs of corruption, The New York Times adds (HT;FPI).

While few will miss Shokin, his belated ouster is unlikely to help the battle against corruption in Ukraine. Instead, a fight against anticorruption activists has been launched, Atlantic Council analyst Anders Aslund writes.

[W]ith a vote planned for this week in the Ukrainian parliament, the bitter standoff may come to an end, leaving the country with a new cabinet and prime minister for the first time since October 2014 elections following the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych, Foreign Policy notes.

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