Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Alexander Zakharchenko and Akhmedova, a "Russian Reporter": A Faustian Deal-Maker and Master Margarita

Alexander Zakharchenko gave an interview to Marina Akhmedova from Expert Online/Russian Reporter, which Zakharchenko clearly intended as one of his key PR performances in his and his backers for the post of the DPR president, but, which thanks to Zakharcenko himself and the selected reporter, only serves to show the so-called fifth column at its game so that even the word "fifth" looks more and more like a placeholder for a different word, yet almost the same but for one letter in the middle.

So first let's meet the journalist to whom Zakharchenko spoke to. Marina Ahmedova. Works for Russian Reporter and what could be more Russian than a reporter that is called Russian?

In one of her previous interviews, "What Strelkov, Bes, and Others Believe and What They Are Fighting For" (July 31), Akhmedova is attributing to a local militiaman who "did not, did not give his name," a statement that Boris Bezler, the commander of Gorlovka, is "a psychologically sick person." Akhmedova then offers a statement emphasized in the text in bold fonts, in which she reframes the Odessa massacre simply as "a fire" and asserts: "In Odessa, they already forgot about the fire. People live a peaceful life there." She then finishes her interview with a Ukrainian officer in Slavyansk whom she quotes as saying that captured militiamen "don't want to accept responsibility" because their reasoning is slow--they cannot even organize themselves to be led for a "lunch" supposedly offered to them by the Ukrainian army. The title of the article, as indicated, is a question her answer to which Akhmedova craftily puts into the https address of the article: "A child's tear is no longer worth anything." That's who she is summing up the supposed cause of Novorossiya.

In his article from October 2, "To save the country's soul," Akhmemdova explains her mission and the meaning of the title right at the beginning: "The goal is one--to expel war from our soul and heart [so that the Minsk] truce would change from fragile to reinforced concrete." She then reports on her discussion with Ukrainian POWs from the 39th territorial defense Dniepropetrovsk battalion who, as she writes, told her that they were captured by a Russian regular army unit.

In other interview, she presents this particular exchange: "Can the army be afraid of the militia? --When five people are chasing a rat and when they corner her, she could become dangerous to any of them." She then adds speaking to several Strelkov's soldiers from Slavyansk: "If you had not gotten out of Slavyansk and had you not occupied Donetsk, there would have been as many victims and shelling." Later, in a different conversation, she suggests again that, by raising arms, the militia was "endangering local people." Again, Akhemedova's intended message is in her title: "We will be later ashamed of this war." Listeni

After listening to her, a local at last says to Akhmedova point-blank: “You know, you are asking such strange questions [some of them of military character] that people in the town started to doubt whether you are  a Russian journalist.”
So, now we come to Akhmedova’s “election campaign” interview with Alexander Zakharchenko.  The title of the interview is “Chief [i.e. Chieftain] of Donbass.”  This half-ironic, half-mocking twist sets the tone.  Before she gets to ask political or military questions, she asks the aspiring leader of the Donetsk Republic: “About what were you crying as a child?” “A car ran over my dog. I cried a lot,’ [Zakharchenko] unhappily laughs.” After that, Akhmedova takes the reign of the discussion even more firmly into her hands and starts “teaching” Zakharchenko about politics of Russia, as she sees it. When Zakharchenko says that Ukraine “changed people’s psyche and made slaves from formerly proud Slavs.” 

At one point, Zakharchenko then understood that the system treats them and sees them as slaves. To this Akhmedova retorts: “And do you think that, in Russia, people are treated differently?” And she lets Zakharchenko reply: “No , I don’t  … I say even more.  The mistake of Russia is that many of you—Russians [like Akhmedova]—see us as people who have revolted because of our hunger and poverty.” In response, Akhmedova continues to lecture Zakharchenko: “Why do you want into Russia? In Russia everything will be our way, not your way. Our system is breaking people fast. Especially, those like you.” “Why do you think that the [Russian] system has already broken me?” Akhmedova then continues asking helpful,  pertinent questions: “Where else do you wear a man’s suit? … [For] Europe cannot see a man [like you] who went and dug out from his garden a hidden machine gun any other way than as a barbarian.”

Zakharchenko then presents himself not only much as an antithesis to Strelkov, but also as one of those who took Kurginyan’s position against Strelkov, claiming that Stelkov and his men should have remained in Slavyansk surrounded with all the obvious consequences for Strelkov’s brigade and Novorossiya: “[When Akhmedova met Zakharchenko for the first time], I was then in Boroday’s office, and Strelkov was there too. And we were fiercely cursing [Strelkov] for surrendering Slavyansk. It was just a complete scandal. And before I went out from there, I said the phrase: “You, Igor Ivanovich [Strelkov], smell differently for us. … [I said that] because [and his nostrils are growing—Akhmedova’s comment] he wanted to demolish ten-store buildings at the outskirt of Donetsk, and that was crazy. … Because he thought that it would be more comfortable to defend the city from the ruins.  … He does not live here …”

On top of this then comes the big lie of the interview, which either Zakharchenko himself said or which Akhmedova assigns to him: “Ninety percent of his army did not support [Strelkov’s] ways of how to fight this war.”

Zakharchenko then continus: “[Strelkov’s way was] way too different.  He is an officer and he sees war as a dogma. But here we have a different war. And we tried to explain it to him. … [This different war] does not consist in strenuous defense. We cannot do that. … Defense needs to be built differently. … But Strelkov tried to solve the problems at the expense of the lives of our people … We would have it done differently.” In a word, Zakharchenko claims that Strelkov was not fit to command because supposedly he did not know what it means to live in Donbass … because he was not local: “He simply did not know. But we know.”

Hearing this, Akhmedova marvels: “How come that you combine goodness with such cruelty?” As she indicates later, for her the procession of the captured Ukrainian soldiers led through Donetsk was “cruel and debasing.” For Akhmedova, this was a cruel act against the “human dignity” of the soldiers sent into war in Donbass by the fascist regime in Kiev. In this she makes sure to guess that when Zakharchenko thought of the idea of having this “parade,” his “nostrils must have widened.”
When Zakharchenko is then telling her about one of his soldiers who threw himself under a Ukrainian tank that tried to smash a group of wounded militiamen lying on the ground, the one question she can ask is why Zakharchenko did not prevent the soldier from doing so.

Then comes another revelation.

Zakharchenko, as Akhmedova presents it, declared that “in Minsk  [he] was put before a choice—to betray or not to betray.  … They demanded that we have signed on to a demarcation line, which would mean that we would need to give back all what we have liberated.  I refused to accept this demand. This would have been treason to the people who live there.  But I will tell you more. I have just signed my resignation letter. You are sitting here to a man who, in two and half hours, might no longer be Prime Minister. And you are the only journalist who knows about this. I cannot betray my people. I did not sleep at all last night. We were deciding what to do next, and we decided not to retreat. But if I don’t quit my position now, I will become a traitor. That’s because they will force me to sign on to the same demarcation line [which they demanded already in Minsk]. … They will force me to do it.” “Who?” “Ha-ha … let’s go …”

Later Zakharchenko says that, in Minsk, he was feeling to be out of his league. He was “annoying everyone with his questions.” He was then told that he is “stupid, feckless and impudent.” He then supposedly retorted that if that was a duel, he would have “slaughtered the whole their delegation and would have been sitting already somewhere in Warsaw.

After this, they go out and are being shot at by the Ukrainian army.  After that experience on their way back, Zakharchenko asks: “What do you think? Is Putin in the eyes of the whole civilized world a barbarian?” And, as if this was just a rhetorical question, Zakharchenko is then quoted affirming:  “A barbarian. But if I am proud of this man then what does it matter [what the ‘whole civilized world thinks’]?”

The interview then ends with Akhmedova describing Zakharchenko as running away barely with a word—except for “I don’t know”—from a local woman who, having lost her brother in the war, asked him what she should do.  Zakharchenko is then quoted, when interrogated by Akhmedova about it: “What words can I find? What can support her?”

Akhmedova’s last words of wisdom then define Zakharchenko as a “maverick” (useful idiot) who, once his job is done, will be then disposed of.

While a political scientist in me can understand (though not excuse) the penchant of the powers that be to remove true leaders like Strelkov and replace them with Zakharchenkos, much everything else that is worth anything detests such a cowardly and bastardy policy.

It is also clear--too plainly clear--why Zakharchenko is but a poor substitute for real leaders of Strelkov's or Mozgovoy's quality. The fact that Zakharchenko himself tries to make his bid here and present himself as an anti-Strelkov candidate speaks volumes and is too plain--too embarrassingly plain. 

The fact that he was put or allowed himself to be put into the hands of a fifth column journalist such as Akhmedova also speaks volumes.


  1. Well I agree he never should have done that interview with a hostile journalist. You need to pick a friendly journalist and demand to see the questions in advance. Also you should demand the right to edit the article prior to publication. Zakharchenko is just not experienced enough in the ways of the Mass media to understand the danger of talking to just any reporter. Hopefully he has learned it now.