In a 7 August radio interview with Karina Orlova of the program “Separate Opinion” on Ekho Moskvy, Dmitry Muratov, editor of Novaya Gazeta, commented on the resignation of Aleksandr Boroday from the post of “prime minister” in the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic,” and discussed a persistent claim recently in independent media in Moscow: that Boroday called Moscow media and admitted that the Russian-backed separatists had downed MH17, and that this may have been a reason for his resignation. Boroday himself denied this in a subsequent interview 12 August with Novaya Gazeta. Amid speculation about a struggle for power within the DPR, Donbass-born fighter Aleksandr Zakharchenko was made “prime minister.”The Interpreter has translated some excerpts:
Orlova: The first topic I’d like to discuss with you is that Aleksandr Boroday, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic announced that he was resigning. There was a short announcement, and he promised to give a press conference a little later. What does this mean?
Muratov: Well, Karina, if you appoint yourself, you can dismiss yourself as well. I cannot take this very seriously, but for me it’s the fate of Aleksandr Boroday, a well-known Moscow PR man, a citizen of Russia, by the way.
Orlova: Yes, I know.
Muratov: It’s of course connected to the tragic fate of the Malaysian Boeing. I know that Aleksandr Boroday called the head of one of the main media organizations which covers events in Ukraine approximately 40 minutes after the Boeing perished and said, “likely we shot down a civilian airline.”
Orlova: Is that true?
Muratov: I was told this and people talked about this whose words I have accustomed to taking seriously. Boroday is an idealist. He, like many people who work in the area of public relations would very much like to make what he does online transfer to off-line, but that turned out to be an extremely bloody matter. I think that his voice, with the words he pronounced, is preserved on several tapes at various intelligence agencies of the world. I think that even so, Aleksandr Boroday understands perfectly well that he is not needed by anyone here, simply not needed, because if he returns and integrates back into Russian life, it will be realized that he is someone’s emissary.
But the most important in this is something much more serious. Until recently — well, let’s say until the downing of the Boeing — the Russian leadership, as I understand it, had a certain idea — which is why, essentially, there is a war on in the east of Ukraine, and why we support keeping the lid on the steam in this pot all the time and why we always are sending resources there. The idea was to create a buffer republic out of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. A republic in which in September elections will be held to local bodies of [executive] and legislative government – most likely there will be created…they intended to create a sort of strong media-government which would normally explain to people for whom they should vote, after which on the territory of that part of Ukraine — indisputably Ukraine — there were no other thoughts — would arise a buffer state like South Ossetia, Transniestria, Northern Cyprus. The jurisdictions of the European Union would not extend to such a state with a special status, in the event of Ukraine joining the EU, and definitely no NATO divisions would exist there, if Ukraine concludes agreements with NATO.
But after that Boeing, in fact, it seems to me that the people whom Russian television calls “the militia” — and Marina Koroleva from Ekho Moskvy proposed a precisely correct term, “armed separatists” — the armed separatists would cease to heed anyone’s instructions. For that, they sent [ultranationalist Sergei] Kurginyan there, so that he would in some fashion sit there and compromise Strelkov…[Kurginyan denounced Strelkov at a press conference in Donetsk—The Interpreter.]
Orlova: So Kurginyan, then that was nevertheless a dark sign…
Muratov: Of course, of course. [They said] We can wage propaganda against you, Igor Ivanovich Strelkov — here it was said that after several months, Russian media, above all the federal TV channels, had made Strelkov a new Yury Aleksandrovich Gagarin. He is likely now more recognized than Gagarin. He became the portrait of the “Russian Spring,” he became the Che Guevara for Russian radicals and nationalists. And if Strelkov, as I see it, is a person who loves to fight, he intends to go to the end, then Boroday understands perfectly that he has to find the right moment and disappear somewhere. I don’t know what he will say today at his press conference but the fact that he is perfectly well informed of the story of the Malaysia Boeing, and the fact that it is a very vulnerable story [for him], in which there is both the personal and the public — that’s for sure. [Boroday denied that the rebels had shot down MH17 and blamed the Ukrainian government for not closing the airplace—The Interpreter.]
Orlova: I don’t understand only one thing: did Boroday’s conscience bother him or was there a dissonance between what he wanted and how it actually turned out?
Muratov: When [it was] an absolutely critical moment of opposition, Aleksandr Boroday leaves the Donetsk Republic, comes to Moscow, is here several days, he is seen in various public restaurants — this was last week when we still had food in Moscow. And Boroday tries to meet various people. He meets only with a number of media managers who are supposedly supposed to set up a liaison between him and some other people, people it seems to him are making decisions, but then it became clear that here is a person who at that moment is leaving…Well, like Yanukovych left — well, so what if he turned up in Kharkiv — it was clear that he would no longer be president. The person who considers himself the head of a self-declared region, and after that, of course, that’s it…. A gigantic responsibility for bloodshed is on Boroday. He did not preserve Donetsk’s inviolability, he allowed war to break out in Donetsk, where they are shooting both in retaliation and indiscriminately, therefore, the fate of Boroday, of course, is extremely sad.
Orlova: But he left himself, he was not recalled.
Muratov: I don’t know where the string is, that if they pull on it, he is recalled. His boss, the person for whom he works is Mr. Malofeyev — both he and Boroday landed in the sanction lists. Apparently, understandably, this is what all these things were financed with. Perhaps, you recall, that the VTB which was essentially robbed by Mr. Malofeyev — he got away, I think, with about $800 million…[It was actually a $600 million lawsuit—The Interpreter].
Orlova — Well, VTB bank of course would not grow poor from losing $800 million.
Muratov: It hurts! Well, what was it? There are serious managers at the VTB, serious people, and well, they threw them. And they won that case, and then at a certain point they suddenly concluded a settlement. And that settlement coincided with the start of the active measures of Comrade Boroday in this conflict.
Orlova: When you said that Aleksandr Boroday called one of the media managers 49 minutes after the downed Boeing, I immediately recalled the recent article of Andrei Kolesnikov in Kommersant, remember, everyone discussed it? that people believed this was a kind of expression of will and idea of the Kremlin, that Vladimir Putin was simply waiting for real proof that the separatists really did shoot down the Boeing. He needed that, and then he himself was prepared to betray them…
Muratov: […] Archives can be burned. But what was said on social networks, what was said openly on some account [remains]… See, I will cite a simple example. We have spoken about this but when you put it all together, in one piece, the horrible picture becomes clear. On the day of the downing of the Boeing on 17 June at 17:50 there was a dispatch from Strelkov: “In the area of Torez an AN-26 was just downed. It is rolling around somewhere beyond the Progress coal mine. After all, we warned them: don’t fly in our sky. And here is a video confirming the latest “bird-fell.” Civilians were not injured. The ‘bird’ fell behind the slag heap, it did not damage the residential sector.” That’s Strelkov. This report is removed instantly. Kozitsin, a dressed-up ataman of these Cossacks announces that this was inserted by spies, after which the account is removed. RIA Novosti cites the very same thing at 18:13, that is 23 minutes after Strelkov. At 18:34, LifeNews cites this, then ITAR-TASS cites this at 19:04. Question: why weren’t they interrogated?
See our analysis on other Russia media reports of the bragging of rebels that they had downed what they thought was a cargo plane and an analysis of the reliability of Strelkov’s communiques as well as further background on Boroday, Strelkov and Malofeyev.