The situation in Lugansk is still tense. The political crisis has intensified after resignation of Interior Minister Igor Kornet. The information on his resignation appeared on November 20. On the next day, armed men blocked the Lugansk center. By some information, there were Donetsk People’s Republic national security and law-enforcement officers among them.
On the same day, Igor Kornet made a video address and rejected the rumors on his resignation. “Criticism of the law-enforcement department by mass media has intensified recently due to destructive actions of some officials. Those persons have been misinforming the head of Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) about alleged unlawful actions of interior ministry employees for a long time already. It is triggered by the fact that we have irrefutable proofs that some top officials are involved in illegal activities harming interests of the republic and the people,” Kornet said.
Besides, the interior minister said, his ministry and the National Security Ministry possess proofs that CEO of LPR State Television and Radio Company Anastasia Shurkayeva cooperates with Ukrainian special services and the head of Plotnitsky’s administration Irina Teytsman and head of the government security service of the LPR Interior Ministry Yevgeny Selivyorstov were involved in the coup d’état staged in LPR in September 2016, which resulted in murder of the ex-prime minister of LPR Gennady Tsipkalov (by official theory, Tsypkalov committed suicide) and imprisonment of deputy chief of LPR People’s Militia Vitaly Kiselev.
In his televised addressed, Igor Kornet said high-ranking officials of LPR prosecutor’s office fabricated the above criminal cases. Nevertheless, Igor Kornet voiced no direct accusations against Igor Plotnitsky. Moreover, Kornet said he had provided the existing materials to the LPR head and the latter allegedly adopted a decision to initiate criminal cases and arrest Shurkayeva, Teytsman and Selivyorstov.
On the same day, Plotnitsky’s statement on the situation was published on the website of LPR head’s administration. “Today, people in the center of Lugansk saw a big number of people wearing military uniform who said they were participating in exercises as required by the Interior Ministry of LPR. Such situation is a result of yesterday’s staff reshuffles and legitimate dismissal of the interior minister. What we can see today once again proves that it was the right decision,” Plotnitsky said in the address.
According to Plotnitsky, Igor Kornet’s statement has no legal force, since he was dismissed. Besides, he said, there are no grounds to arrest Shurkayeva, Teytsman and Selivyorstov and acting minister of interior has given no such instructions. The Interior Ministry, in turn, says the statement was fake and intended to destabilize the situation in the republic.
Later, it was reported that Igor Plotnitsky fled to Russia. “By the latest data, Plotnitsky lost control of the situation and left for RF. Perhaps, he will not be back,” wrote a volunteer and militiaman Alexander Zhuchkovsky. Other bloggers and journalists also shared similar information referring to sources familiar with the situation. Things did not become clear the next day either. However, it turned out that the reports on Plotnitsky’s escape were untimely and not so accurate. A video record of Plotnitsky’s working meeting was published of his website. The meeting started with a question about snowdrifts and smoothly shifted to the situation in the republic.
“These are all insinuations… it is high time to put an end to all this related to Kornet, all these statements about who is legitimate and who is not… The court has closed the chapter on it. There is law and everything is clear under that law. Frankly speaking, we have underestimated those violations of the law, and we can already call it crimes committed by the ex-minister of internal affairs, because embarking on a venture like a coup attempt and seizure of power is…There should be something more behind all this,” Plotnitsky said.
He also charged bringing law and order into the city and jointly with LPR Prosecutor’s Office discuss the situation that happened overnight. The information was published on the website at 10:58am. According to the information of Alexander Zhuchkovsky, the raid on the Prosecutor General’s Office started at 11:50am. As a result, Acting Prosecutor General of the Republic Vitaly Podobry and the Military Department Director Sergey Rakhno were detained.
According to EADaily’s source at security agencies, Plotnitsky “grandstanded” by charging his minister to take control of the Interior Ministry, as the administration building was barricaded from inside and blocked from outside and Plotnitsky had no influence in the country any longer. No information that would change the situation was received within the day. According to our data, the situation remains unresolved.
Judging from the information activity of the LPR Interior Ministry, it is not the driver of the crisis. By the evening of November 22, the Ministry exposed more proofs of the staged “coup d’état” in the autumn of 2016. Reportedly, certain Vladimir Borchuk appealed to the LPR Interior Ministry saying he was directly involved in preparation of assassination on ex-prime minister of LPR Gennady Tsypkalov. He received a respective proposal in late summer of 2015 from
head of the government security service of the LPR Interior Ministry Yevgeny Selivyorstov (“Silver”).
“We were ready to do it at any time, but we received no command from ‘Silver’ either in summer or in autumn. Later, we learnt that plans have changed. Tsypkalov is known to be charged with organization of coup d’état. He was accused of preparing Plotnitsky’s overthrow using a preliminary prepared weapons cache,” Borchuk said.
According to him, the weapons cache was prepared together with other accomplices by the order of “Silver.” They used weapons of Ruslan Sorokovenko, the former head of Zarya Battalion arms depot, kept at his farm.
Actually, Interior Minister Igor Kornet is winning both information and military confrontation with his opponents. Considering the contradictory nature of the available information, it is hard to speak of Plotnitsky’s fate. Critics blamed him for staging the coup and implication in the death of Alexander Bednov, one of the authoritative militia leaders in LPR, who was killed on January 1, 2015 in clashes with the People’s Militia officers, by official information. Experts believe that Plotnitsky who signed the Minsk Agreements, will remain the nominal head of LPR, but he will be deprived of his power and influence.