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Novorossiya/DNR-LNR/Malorossia (delete as appropriate) – What’s in a name?

July 18, 2017

18th July witnessed the announcement by Alexander Zakharchenko of the creation of “Malorossia” (or Little Russia) thus rebranding the “Donetsk People’s Republic”.

Naturally the first reaction is to mock – particularly as the “Luhansk People’s Republic” apparently had no idea that such an announcement was forthcoming and denied any consultations regarding the creation of this “State”.  The “official” website of the “Luhansk People’s Republic” stating quite unambiguously “This project was not even discussed with the LC..

Clearly Igor Plotnitsky was not sat in the occupied Luhansk territories creating Ochen Malorossia (Very Little Russia), and it is highly unlikely he would entertain the thought of the merging of the “People’s Republics” unless he and not Zakharchenko was to sit atop.  That, if a reader is to grant that these two “leaders” have any form of meaningful policy/decision making ability free of Kremlin diktats.

The Kremlin too was swift to distance itself from Zakharchenko’s announcement (for whatever credibility a reader may give Kremlin denials) – “100% this is not the initiative of Vladislav Surkov.”  “This is a personal initiative of Zakharchenko and his entourage”.

So what happened?

Did Zakharchenko’s tin foil hat simply fall off and he manage to spout this flapdoodle before somebody managed to get it back on?

After all, changing the name of an unrecognised occupied territory for another name of that same occupied territory does not change the circumstances, advances no territorial gain, nor brings with it any form of legitimisation.  Form rather than substance.

However, if a reader is inclined to believe Mr Zakharchenko’s tin foil hat did not fall off when spouting such flapdoodle, there are several questions to be asked.

The first, and always the first question to be asked, is who benefits (either internally, externally or both)?

It has to be noted that the announcement of “Malorossia” also contained the statement that a 3 year state of emergency would accompany this transition.  From that a reader might infer that therefore, the next 3 years would not witness any form of elections or “elections” within that occupied territory.  As such Mr Zakharchenko was effectively insuring that via the state of emergency his reign would continue.  Therefore woeful as his leadership has clearly been for the constituency of the “DNR”, those constituents could put aside any notion of replacing him via elections (or “elections”) for another 3 years.

Whether that outcome would be agreeable to the Kremlin curators is also a valid question.

Ergo was this announcement a trial balloon, and if so, despite denials, did it occur with or without Kremlin knowledge?

How would the announcement benefit Moscow?  The very name “Malorossia” could make it far more difficult for The Kremlin to disown and/or distance itself from this occupied territory.  Perhaps Zakharchenko has a fear that The Kremlin is preparing to lessen its support (either for him and/or the region) and this is an attempt to prevent it via a necessary poke of the Donbas lobby in Moscow?

How does it assist The Kremlin games within the Minsk framework – if at all?  A reader should note that Germany, France, Ukraine and Moscow all declared it was not helpful.  Boris Gryzlov who heads the Russian Minsk negotiation team stated “Most likely, this proposal has to do with the information war, it is not a subject of real politics.”  A statement from Mr Gryzlov that invites a reader to listen to the adults (and curators) in the room, and not the children – just in case anybody was still under the misguided impression that the locals are running the show in the occupied territories.

However, as Mr Zakharchenko’s very future relies on Minsk never being implemented, for throwing him under a bus is an easy concession for The Kremlin to make when details are thrashed out, throwing up obstacles, or gifting Kyiv reasons to stall, is in his interest.

Maybe it is a simple attempt at distraction/narrative redirection from the 3rd anniversary of the MH17 crime in which the “DNR” is unquestionably involved?

Could it be that the hope was that the media would begin to use “Malorossia” rather than “DNR” in the months prior to the JIT MH17 criminal investigation conclusion, and thus it be an attempt to mitigate the international bloody stain indelibly cast upon this occupied territory by sending “DNR” into “search history”?

Perhaps it is an amateurish PR response from Zakharchenko regarding the almost certain and fairly imminent legislative declaration by Kyiv that these territories over which it has no control are officially “temporarily occupied territories”?  Such wording in that legislation undermines him and (rightly) places responsibility upon The Kremlin for the management of events occurring within the occupied territories.  After hubris comes nemesis those wise and ancient Greeks proclaimed.

Be the tin foil hat on, or be it the tin foil hat fell off, such statements as those made by Zakharchenko are not made without a reason – no matter how weak and faulty that reasoning may be.  So who did he think would benefit?

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