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Separatists Duel for Control of Luhansk

Apparent coup attempt broke out when local leader sacked a longtime rival.

23 November 2017

An apparent attempt to take control of Ukraine’s rebel-controlled city of Luhansk continued into a third day today, with Luhansk region leader Ihor Plotnitsky reportedly barricaded inside his headquarters.

 

The incident began Tuesday with a takeover of the city’s main administrative buildings by men believed to be loyal to the self-proclaimed republic’s police chief Ihor Kornet, RFE/RL reports.

 

Yesterday forces from the neighboring breakaway Donetsk region joined fighters loyal to Kornet to storm the Luhansk prosecutor’s office and seize officials who were siding with Plotnitsky, RFE cites Novaya Gazeta as reporting.

 

 

On both 21 and 22 November, members of the OSCE monitoring mission reported seeing about 100 unidentified armed persons, many in masks and with white tape stripes on their sleeves, in the cordoned area in the city. Monitors also saw a number of armored personnel carriers and military trucks in the area.

 

On 20 November, Plotnitsky dismissed Kornet for illegal activity, according to Unian.

 

Plotnitsky remained barricaded inside the former Luhansk region administration headquarters today, although militants had withdrawn cordons in several districts of the city, Unian reports, citing the Ukrainian news site Liga.net.

 

Liga.net’s report, cited by Unian, also says that hospitals are operating normally but doctors have been forbidden from leaving Luhansk until the end of the week.

 

The apparent coup is the latest sign of a power struggle between Kornet and Plotnitsky, who seems to have lost the Kremlin’s support because of the lawlessness and brutality of his regime, RFE says.

 

 

  • Kornet is said to be the favorite of Russia's FSB security service, RFE says.

 

  • Separatists blamed an attempt to assassinate Plotnitsky in August 2016 on Kyiv, but Russian media reported speculation that power struggles among the separatists may have played a role in this and other assassination attempts on rebel leaders.

 

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Plotnitsky and Donetsk region leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko on 15 November about a possible prisoner exchange with Kyiv.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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