A number of Russian-language Ukrainian sources are reporting that Valery Bolotov, former self-declared head of the self-proclaimed "Lugansk People's Republic" has been assassinated.
We have no confirmation of this report.
Translation: Valery Bolotov is dead. Photo proof.
According to joinfo.ua, Russian intelligence officers in the Anti-Terrorism Center of the Interior Ministry had him assassinated. There have been no statements from Russian officials or coverage in the Russian media.
The sources for this story was an "unnamed Lugansk businessman" who says he used to pay protection to Bolotov. The Interpreter has translated the story:
"After Valery Bolotov resigned, information surfaced that he had been taken to Russia in order to provide explanations, or for getting instructions about his future activity. But then Bolotov never came back. Then, the situation took the following turn. Lugansk businessmen who under fear of execution had payed "taxes" to Bolotov every week, transferring the money through some people close to him, encountered a small problem. When they went to "pay their taxes" as usual, they were told they did not have to for now.Naturally, the businessmen wondered whether Bolotov himself knew about this and whether they should send the money to him personally. But they were told that "there's no one to pay. Bolotov's gone." And they were told to await further instructions.
According to another version of the story, Bolotov was "liquidated" by Ukrainian oligarchs related to the previous Yanukovych regime, since he had cooperated with many of them and they didn't want any witnesses to their corruption. Former Ukrainian deputy Vladimir Landik said on a television show that Bolotov previously worked for Party of Regions parliamentary faction leader Aleksandr Yefremov.
Landik claimed Bolotov worked as a look-out for Yefremov at the mines in Krasny Luch, and served as chief of his security and driver.
Russia state media announced in mid-August that Bolotov was resigning on "health grounds."
Translation: Valery Bolotov announced his resignation from the post of head of the LPR due to his health condition.
Then he disappeared from sight.
Kremlin propagandist and web entrepreneur Konstantin Rykov blogged about the changing fortunes of the Novorossiya leaders on August 20.
He cited an interview on August 19 by Lenta.ru with Oleg Tsarev, who is described as the "speaker of parliament of Novorossiya," which combines the "Donetsk People's Republic" and the "Lugansk People's Republic".
Tsarev said that Bolotov had been in Moscow for while, but he didn't know where he was at that time; he was not in the Donbass. He said Bolotov had been wounded, and was getting medical treatment in Russia.
These stories conform with two common theories about the separatists: 1) that they are mafia lords available to serve as bag men for Russia's GRU (military intelligence), and Russia may have kompromat ("compromising material") on them; 2) that when their Russian overlords are done with them, they will be "liquidated."
While this could be the case, the problem with that theory is that so many of the "Novorossiya" leaders we see today in fact served the Kremlin agenda for the last decades, in theaters of conflict from Chechnya to Abkhazia to Transdniestria and even Bosnia. Far from being killed, they were re-used again and again, sometimes after cooling-off periods in Russia.
Another theory about the separatists is that Moscow is busy "nationalizing" the "Novorossiya" movement now by replacing Muscovites like Aleksandr Boroday or Igor Strelkov with home-grown Donbass leaders. And to some extent that has been the case. Bolotov was originally from Taganrog, Russia, and moved to Lugansk Region in 1974.
But according to Lugradar.net and other pro-separatist sources some of the fighters in Lugansk, as distinct from Donetsk, are being replaced by Russian military. All of these stories cite "the Information Center of the Council for National Security (CSNB) and Defense". Yet the CSNB itself didn't make this announcement, nor nor did any pro-Kiev sources report it. It could be disinformation.
The story claims that there has been a "rotation" in Krasnodon, Antratsit and other towns seized by separatists, and in Lugansk itself. Russian military reinforcements have supposedly come to Perevalsk, Zorinsk, Maloivanovka, Malaya Popovka, Vergulievka, and Rassypnoye -- either RF soldiers, or Russian separatists who first went for recuperation in Russia and then returned.
"This reinforcement is to organize these population centers and prepare them for a prolonged defense in case of a siege," says lugradar.net The article also claims that Russian Federation medical personnel came to the hospital in Krasnodon, bringing with them medical equipment -- and then there was a large influx of wounded separatist fighters in this hospital.
None of these reports could be verified, and local Lugansk media did not report anything about Bolotov or any new Russians in the area.
Meanwhile, they did report about the killing of a famous Russian mercenary with the nick-name "Dingo" who real name was Yevgeny Ponomarev. He was from Belorechensk, Krasnodar Territory, and a professional Cossack from the Tersky Cossak community.