Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko ( Russian: Алекса́ндр Влади́мирович Заха́рченко ; IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ zɐˈxartɕɪnkə] , Ukrainian: Олександр Володимирович Захарченко ; born 1976 [4] ) is the current head of state and Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic that declared independence from Ukraine on 11 May 2014. [5] [6] [7] [8] 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. [9]

Political career

Zakharchenko was born in Donetsk on 26 June 1976. He graduated from technical school and then worked as a mine electrician. [10] [2] He rose to prominence in April 2014 as commander of a militia, formed from members of the civic and martial arts group Oplot, that led the separatist takeover of the 11-story government headquarters in central Donetsk. [2] On 16 May 2014 Zakharchenko was appointed 'military commandant of Donetsk'. [2] Since May 2014 Zakharchenko has played a major role in the insurgency against Ukraine's central government. On 24 July 2014 he was awarded the rank General Major in the DPR armed forces, shortly after he was wounded in the arm during fighting with Ukraine government forces. [14] [2]

Zakharchenko succeeded Alexander Borodai as Prime Minister on 7 August 2014. [15] Borodai then became the DPR Deputy Prime Minister. [16] In September 2014, he was the lead negotiator for the DPR at the Minsk Protocol, which agreed to a peace plan for the War in Donbass. [17]

At the November 2, 2014 Donetsk parliamentary elections, Zakharchenko won the prime ministership with 78.93% of the vote. [18]

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.” [2] He was subsequently wounded in action during the closing stages of the Battle of Debaltsevo. [20] In January 2016, he described 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." [21]

Political positions

During the parliamentary election campaign Zakharchenko told potential voters that he wanted pensions to be "higher than in Poland." [3] Zakharchenko said this was feasible because Donetsk is very rich, "like the United Arab Emirates. ... "We have coal, metallurgy, natural gas. . . The difference between us and the Emirates is they don’t have a war there and we do.” [22] Zakharchenko promised to build "a normal state, a good one, a just one. Our boys died for this, civilians are still being killed for this until now." [3]

Zakharchenko is in favour of the death penalty. [23]