Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov
(Note: Rough Translation; Subject to Change)
Edited by S. Naylor
Part II of the Press-Conference Can be Found Here.
Video: Press-Conference of A. Borodai & I. Stelkov, Donetsk, July 10, 2014 (with English Subtitles)
Introduction from Alexander Borodai
Alexander Borodai: Yes, we can commence. Hello, friends! Today’s press-conference, or a briefing, it does not matter what you call it, is for me, and I believe for both of us, a particularly happy occasion because it is conducted with a new composition.
That is to say, I, Alexander Borodai, am here, joined by Igor Strelkov, Commander-in-Chief of the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] armed forces, Minister of Defence and the head of Security Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic. We are finally here together and can address you also jointly. I am very pleased, and this is a happy event, in and of itself, that we can be here together.
And, overall, while I consider the fact that our forces left Slavyansk to be a tragic matter, because we lost some forces, from the standpoint of our defensive needs, this was a completely justified decision. The frontlines have shrunk now and we can afford to concentrate our forces in one place, to conduct far more palpable strikes against the enemy and to seriously focus on and to prepare the city for defence against the enemy. An active defence, mildly put.
And so, I would like to say the following. As you can understand, the military-political situation is very serious at this moment. Accordingly, I would say that the military situation is growing more and more complex. What do I mean by this?
The thing is, the civilian life, which we have been attempting to preserve in the city of Donetsk, in the surrounding areas and in the other cities that are, one way or another, situated on the territory controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic; well, this civilian life, will, to our regret, have to transfer more and more onto a military footing. My comrade Strelkov, I believe, will provide more concrete information. He will now put forward several main points. Please go ahead…
Military Briefing from Igor Strelkov
Igor Strelkov: Speaking briefly, the enemy is moving on to a systematic siege of Donetsk and of the entire Donetsk-Makeevka urban agglomeration. Attempting to close the encirclement on all sides.
To the north, the enemy is advancing in the direction of Lisichansk. Yesterday, our forces left the city of Seversk in response to the direct danger of being encircled. The detachments of the Militia have moved on to positions atop the strategic heights between Seversk and Lisichansk. Our advance positions in this region are spread along the Popasnoye-Gorlovka-Dzerzhinsk line, terminating in Donetsk.
This morning, obstinate fighting resumed in the Karlovka area. The enemy attempted to attack using tank and infantry units. The attack was repelled. Two tanks were destroyed. The infantry attack was repelled. Thereafter, and until present, an artillery battle between the two sides has been continuing in the area. Reinforcements, which should repel the enemy’s attack, have been sent to the location. Unfortunately, we also have sustained losses there.
The front lines continue from Karlovka along the western outskirts, along the suburban settlements of Donetsk. From there, along the southern outskirts of Donetsk, all the way to Ilovais’k. From there, along the line to Shakhtars’k-Torez-Snezhnoye.
The major hostilities on the southern front have concentrated in the areas of the Saur Mogila [strategic height] and the villages of Dmitrovka and Stepanovka, where uninterrupted positional battles and exchanges of artillery strikes continue.
Today, at 14:00, our special purpose [spetsnaz] unit, supported with artillery, attacked the enemy positions in the area of the [Donetsk] airport. Our units were not tasked with taking control of the airport. Nevertheless, our side inflicted serious manpower losses on the enemy. There were no losses on our part.
Overall, the situation remains tense. However, the Militia is prepared to defend Donetsk and the entire Donetsk urban agglomeration firmly and steadfastly. We expect to be able to retain key positions around the city and will not allow the enemy inside city or permit Donetsk to be encircled from the East or the Northeast.
In this regard, we are absolutely certain that assistance will be furnished by the units of Alexander Mozogovoi, who is formally a part of the LPR [Lugansk People’s Republic] army, but has been acting in operational subordination to our headquarters. Moreover, we [ourselves] have the necessary reserves to parry the enemy’s strikes. We were able to free up these reserves by withdrawing from Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Druzhkovka and Konstantinovka. Unfortunately, there was no other manner in which we could have freed up these resources.
I am prepared to answer your question to the extent I am able and to the extent I am permitted to do so by the demands of military secrecy.
Massive Evacuation of Refugees from Parts of Donetsk Expected
Alexander Borodai: I would like to add something here. So, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we are forced to consider a partial evacuation of certain areas of Donetsk. We want to make sure that both the Russian and the global public is ready for what is to come. A partial evacuation will entail the exodus of several hundred thousand civilians from the city and its neighbouring areas.
Unfortunately, this is the necessity that looms over us. There is nothing that we can do about it. It now appears that we may be forced to proceed in this way. To preclude a humanitarian catastrophe, or, at least, to attempt to avoid it; and to avoid the death of a large number of civilians. This is the first point that I wanted to make. The second clarification concerns the various rumours and disinformation that the enemy has been spreading more or less successfully.
With respect to various kinds of disagreements among the military units in Donetsk. With respect to various kinds of “commercial schemes” that allegedly exist, and in which some of the DPR military units are allegedly involved. These are lies and disinformation fabricated by the enemy.
There are no disagreements. Joint operations have now been implemented, and the council of commanders will commence its activities in the nearest future. I expect that, in the nearest future, we will have the benefit of organized and coordinated activity on the part of our military units present on the territory of DPR.
For now, that is all, thank you. We are expecting your questions. You can ask questions of me, as well as of our Minister of Defence. Simply introduce yourself and go ahead with your questions.
Questions from the Press
Reporter: Yes, please, I have a question for you.
Alexander Borodai: Listening.
Reporter: Can you please explain to us what were you doing in Moscow? Whom did you meet there?
Alexander Borodai: I was there for political consultations, which, in my opinion, were fairly successful. With respect to the people I met, I will certainly not reveal that. This secret, if you will, belongs to the area of military intelligence.
However, I consider these consultations to be very successful, and I am very much counting on the assistance of the Russian Federation in the nearest possible future. As it is, the Russian people, at present, are already providing colossal assistance to us, both in terms of volunteers and in terms of humanitarian aid. I expect that this assistance will continue to grow.
Reporter: And what will this entail in practice?
Alexander Borodai: Here, again, I will provide no commentary to you. It is what it is. However, I am of the opinion that our consultations were eminently successful.
Evacuation from Donetsk and Coordination with Lugansk People’s Republic
Reporter: How soon do you expect the evacuation to begin? In the course of a week or when? And the second question: is there cooperation with the Lugansk People’s Republic? Because you spoke here about the army of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Alexander Borodai: As we are officers of the Donetsk People’s Republic, accordingly, we speak about the Donetsk People’s Republic. However, there is, in fact, coordination between the governmental structures of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugasnk People’s Republic. They are two constituent parts of the federation called Novorossiya.
Reporter: And what about the evacuation?
Borodai: In the coming days.
Reporter: And where to?
Alexander Borodai: We will see where the people wish to evacuate. But I think that everyone will want to evacuate to the Russian Federation.
Reporter: And has the Russian Federation promised to you that they will accept that many refugees?
Alexander Borodai: We will be discussing this matter with the Russian Federation. The problem is not whether the Russian Federation is promising to accept that many refugees or not. The issue is survival. The Russian Federation will not refuse to accept the refugees simply because it cannot permit itself to do so. It cannot allow itself to refuse them.
Question: How will the evacuation be implemented? Will the people be forced to evacuate, or will this be a voluntary evacuation?
Alexander Borodai: No, of course not. This will be a voluntary evacuation. It is simply that the situation is such that we are forced to evacuate the people, and many of them would want to do so.
Igor Strelkov: All right, briefly. At this time, we are forming a joint staff of the military forces of the Donetsk and the Lugansk People’s Republics. The location of the headquarters has already been established. The formation process is nearing its culmination. In the nearest term, the unified military command of Novorossiya will be ready. At this time, this is all that I can say with respect to this issue.
Relations with Lukyanchenko, Mayor of Donetsk
Reporter: Alexander Yuryevich, can you please tell us about your relations with the mayor of Donetsk. Right now, one of the Internet publications has claimed, referencing their sources, that the leadership of DPR has given Lukyanchenko an ultimatum to make some sort of decision by midnight. Do you know anything about this ultimatum? And, if so, what does it entail?
Alexander Borodai: (smiling) I would not characterize as an ultimatum the conversation that Igor Ivanovich had with mayor Lukyanchenko. I know. Once again, I remind you about how information warfare is practiced. The information warfare is ongoing.
I had not even managed to make it to Donetsk (although I was already on the territory of DPR) when rumours, nay, they even called it “confirmed information,” even “super-confirmed information,” reached me that an ultimatum had been made to mayor Lukyanchenko that he must either announce his allegiance to DPR or face execution early in the morning.
Reporter: Please comment then, on what was discussed?
Alexander Borodai: I can assure you, mayor Lukyanchenk has not been executed. However, the mayor of a city facing a siege, you can consider it, at this time, a besieged fortress, must, undoubtedly, not only cooperate, somehow, with us, but must actively support the position of those who are defending the city. And this decision is absolutely correct.
It’s not as if I did not know that Igor Ivanovich had a conversation with mayor Lukyanchenko. Yes, I was well aware of this. And I wholeheartedly support the position of Igor Ivanovich in this regard. The mayor will have to make some kind of decision.
If he is prepared closely and qualitatively to cooperate with us, then he will remain the mayor. We know him to be a good administrator. If he continues to play politics, offer us negotiations, offer to be the middle man in the negotiations process, which, frankly speaking, he has done on many occasions – he has made these kinds of offers to me – then we are entirely uninterested in this.
He is either a mayor, an administrator, or he is a politician. And we are not prepared to have him act as a politician or as a middle-man in our “relations” with Kiev, in relations which do not exist. We are prepared to employ him as a mayor.
If he does not want to remain in this role, then he will have to leave, and he will be replaced with another person. To leave does not mean to stand against a wall and be executed. To leave means to pack up things and quietly go either simply home or to any other place of his own choosing.
Reporter: Igor Ivanovich, could you add anything to the answer provided by Alexander Yuryevich?
Igor Strelkov: It was an exhaustive response.
Reporter: And, continuing with this question, you mentioned that there might be some other person. Do you know who this person could be?
Alexander Borodai: We are considering candidacies. Naturally, he must be an administrator, first and foremost. But this means an administrator that himself must be loyal to the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic. I consider this to be absolutely correct.
Moreover, I repeat, there will be attempts, all the time, to cause discord in our joint position with the DPR Commander-in-Chief. These attempts, I will tell you straight, are bound to fail. Our relationship is of a different calibre entirely. They will not work.
Reporter: Thank you very much.
Borodai: You are welcome.
Russian Citizens at the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic
Reporter: I would like to ask the following question: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the People’s Militia of Donbass positions itself as being comprised of people that come from the land of Donbass. How did it come to be that before us are two citizens of the Russian Federation that command the entire enterprise? How did it happen?
Alexander Borodai: (smiling) I’ll tell you it’s worse that that. There are two Muscovites sitting before you.
Alexander Borodai: Yes, that’s what they say.
Reporter: But, how?
Alexander Borodai: We see nothing wrong in this. Absolutely nothing. I would like to tell you that both Igor and I have been volunteers for a very long time. The volunteer movement is very developed in Russia.
The people of Donbass rose up by themselves. The fact that due to certain competencies, qualities and abilities both of us ended up at the head of this movement – well, that’s what happened. This is normal and natural.
Moreover, please take into account the fact that the entire liberation movement of Donbass is oriented toward the Russian Federation. Oriented, however you put it, be it spiritually or otherwise. And expects Moscow’s arrival here, in a good sense of the word. Expects, desires, simply prays for it – prays for the time of this arrival. And, simply put, any people from Moscow are welcomed here.
And, moreover, I would like to make a further announcement – fortunately, the person has arrived – with respect to people from Moscow, there are more and more of these people here. For instance, at the next Supreme Council session, we anticipate putting forward the candidacy of a new Vice-Premier of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
I would like you all to welcome Vladimir Yuryevich Antjufeev. Vladimir Yuryevich, I hope you can say a couple of word to us.
Vladimir Atjunfeev, New Vice-Premier of DPR
Vladimir Antjufeev: Good day, ladies and gentlemen.
Alexander Borodai: And now Vladimir Yuryevich will introduce himself.
Vladimir Antjufeev: Thank you.
Alexander Borodai: My thanks. I believe that you are well acquainted with the journalists.
Vladimir Antjufeev: Ladies and gentlemen, briefly about myself. My name is Vladimir Yuryevich, born in 1951. I am Russian and a citizen of the Russian Federation.
My primary education is in law. As well, I am a graduate of the Academy of Government Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, in the National Security Department. I hold a PhD in Political Science and teach as a professor at the Academy of Military Science.
My entire adult life and service I have devoted to fighting national-fascism in Latvia, in Moldova, and, now, in Ukraine (as well as in Georgia). I have been granted state awards by the Soviet Union, Transnistria, Russia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. I say this not to boast, but simply to identify the functional points of my competency and the basis of my influence.
I was invited by the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic to facilitate the creation of law-enforcement structures, because the national-fascists of Ukraine, which have unleashed, under the leadership of the Kiev government, a war against the people of the South-East, have, in perpetrating these hostilities, substantially destabilized and undermined the functionality of these structures.
The task I see before me consists of reconstructing the functionality of these structures, relying primarily on the local law-enforcement cadre, to ensure that each and every citizen of the Donetsk People’s Republic is, first and foremost, clearly confident that both his personal and his property rights are protected.
I will conduct my activities in strict compliance with the law and the existing legislation and from the standpoint of the highest principles of fairness and a high civic duty. My military rank is Lieutenant-General. Please ask your questions.
Reporter: What will you be curating in the new government? What will be the scope of your responsibilities?
Vladimir Antjufeev: National security, the Ministry of Interior, the courts and the justice system, and so on.
Reporter: Thank you.
Vladimir Antjufeev: Well, as for the Prosecutor’s Office – we will be cooperating with the Prosecutor’s Office.
Reporter: So, in other words, the entire security apparatus, correct?
Vladimir Antjufeev: No, hold on, not exactly. The military component is excluded here – this is the prerogative of the leadership of the Republic. We will certainly build our relation on the basis of cooperation, exchange of information and the planning of joint operations in ensuring state security and the defence of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Reporter: Thank you.
Reporter: Did you come from Russia today?
Vladimir Antjufeev: Yes, today.
Reporter: What is your last name, Vladimir Yuryevich?
Vladimir Antjufeev: Antjufeev. A-N-T-JU.
The Situation Surrounding Battalion Vostok and Commander Khodokovskiy
Reporter: If I may ask a question: who is currently in command of Battalion Vostok? What powers will Khodokovskiy continue to retain? Will he continue as the head of Battalion Vostok?
Igor Strelkov: As it is well known, Battalion Vostok is exists as a structure within the Ministry of State Security. However, the units of Battalion Vostok that serve on the frontlines are in operational subordination to the staff of the Militia. Specifically, I repeat, in operational subordination. In the future, they will continue as part of the Ministry of State Security.
Alexander Borodai: What does this say to you? Alexander Khodokovskiy is at this time the Minister of National Security of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Battalion Vostok is a military unit subordinated to him. However, because, at this time, this military unit is engaged in frontline duties, it cannot be involved in the operations of the Ministry of National Security. They simply have not had the opportunity to be involved.
I am hoping that now Vladimir Yuryevich will seriously help us in making the National Security units work. And so, I apologize, I moved off the topic. And so, because Vostok is engaged primarily in frontline duties, accordingly, it has been operationally subordinated to the DPR Commander-in-Chief, Igor Ivanovich Strelkov.
Reporter: Ok, it’s just that Gubarev said yesterday that this is how it is. About the fact that Vostok …
Alexander Borodai: You know … please tell me, what is Pavel Gubarev’s official capacity here? Can you explain this to me? Well, you see, and I can’t either. You listen to commentary by various unofficial leaders, some of whom are respected, while others – less so. Well, his statement is not official, and now you are being provided with an official statement by the government. And this official position is what it is.
Could There Be a Retreat from Donetsk?
Reporter: May I ask another question? If, God forbid, the situation in Donetsk becomes the same as it was in Slavyansk, has a plan been prepared for the Militia to retreat, as it was done in Slavyansk?
Alexander Borodai: An enigmatic question. And where are you from, if I may ask? No, there is no such plan. We will continue to defend the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic. And not only will we defend it – we will cleanse it from occupation, cleanse it from the occupation troops, which, indeed, currently hold a very substantial part of our territory. However, I am certain that this is an entirely temporary phenomenon.
Encouragement for Mariupol
Reporter: If I may ask another question in this regard. Here we have representatives from Mariupol. And, the thing is, I would like to hear some words of encouragement for our city.
Alexander Borodai: We are aware that the situation there is difficult. What can I say? Hold strong. I believe that we will come to your aid. We will seek to do so in the nearest future.
Statement Made by Kurginiyan
Reporter: What about the statement made by Kurginyan? The question is for Messr. Strelkov. With respect to the accusations that were made.
Alexander Borodai: Excuse me, what would you like to know about Kurginyan’s statement?
Reporter: Well, he phrased it fairly clearly that what happened was a surrender of the city, and so forth. So, will Messr. Strelkov please comment on these accusations and the fact that [Kurginyan] came to Donetsk and made statements like that? My question is for Mr. Strelkov. Can you please answer it?
Igor Strelkov: I heard about Messr. Kurginyan’s statement and I was told, roughly, what he said. However, frankly speaking, the statement itself did not interest me in terms of its contents. I did not even bother to read it.
The thing is, in my day-to-day actions I am guided, first of all, by military expediency, and, second, by my conscience. The military expediency in withdrawing the garrison from Slavyansk was obvious then, and it has become even more obvious now. My conscience is absolutely clear.
So, Messr. Kurginyan can claim what he wants. And, moreover, it is a pity that a person whose analytical articles previously aroused my interest and respect came out with a statement that is fairly improper. However, in general, his words did not rattle me, which is exactly what I told him in our evening telephone conversation when I invited him, in a fairly correct manner, simply to come in for a conversation. In fact, my tone was more than just polite.
Well, it looks like he became afraid of some sort of actions on my part and did not come. However, I will take this opportunity to tell him that I was in no way hurt by his statement, and that I am even ready to discuss this further with him in calm and planned surroundings.
Alexander Borodai: Allow me also to add something to the issue of Messr. Kurginyan’s statement. As for me, I, frankly speaking, had a very strong inclination, a very strong desire, to arrest Messr. Kurginyan, and the sole obstacle to his arrest was the opinion of Messr. Strelkov.
This is because I consider his statement not only to be rude to the core and also impermissible in its content, but also an element of the enemy, of Ukrainian propaganda. And I would not have held Messr. Kurginyan for long – I would have simply sent him back where, judging by the essence of his statement, he came from. [In other words,] to the Ukrainian positions. Because the impression he made was that he works entirely for the benefit of the Ukrainian propaganda machine. In essence, directly fulfilling its orders.
Naturally, various rumours of all kinds arose that Messr. Kurginyan came here not just because but at the bidding of someone from Kremlin or from one of Kremlin’s towers. I can say that, being a professional in my field, and since I was in Moscow while Messr. Kurginyan made his statement, I made the necessary inquiries.
As it turns out, Messr. Kurginyan was not representing any Kremlin structure while he was here. This is politely speaking. Neither any pro-Kremlin, nor even a near-Kremlin structure. He came here at someone else’s bidding. And I think that the interests that Messr. Kurginyan was serving here are to be found far to the west of the city of Moscow.
Further Clarification of the Situation with Battalion Vostok and Khodokovskiy
Reporter: Can you please clarify the situation with Battalion Vostok? For example, Pavel Gubarev stated yesterday that [Khodokovskiy] is refusing to subordinate to the DPR leadership, that he has moved to Makeevka, and promised that, in the nearest future, certain facts will be made public. What is the situation at this time?
Alexander Borodai: (smirking) Pavel Gubarev is a unique source of information, I tell you. Keep listening. You will get a lot of various information. I had a conversation with Alexander Khodokovskiy yesterday. There are no problems of this kind at this time.
Igor Strelkov: Alexander Yuryevich, you should not forget that Pavel Gubarev has been appointed the head of the Mobilization Department.
Alexander Borodai: Oh, yes, I forgot.
Igor Strelkov: So, please do not disavow him entirely here.
Alexander Borodai: I will not, entirely. I simply want to say that political statements are not part of his responsibilities.
Igor Strelkov: Ladies and gentlemen, there will be, of course, as in any guerrilla movement when it is transformed into a regular army, many disagreements, collisions of interest, clashes of ambitions, and other issues not permitted by military regulations. Nevertheless, it is important not to assign critical importance to any such skirmishes, disconnects, and lack of understanding.
Messr. Khodokovskiy visited me twice in Slavyansk in April of this year. And we found then, between the two of us, sufficient commonality of interests and agreed to certain cooperation. I am certain that, when we meet face to face, we will again find a common language and will work together, side by side.
With respect to everything else, I can say that the units of Battalion Vostok are, at this time, working in direct cooperation with the Militia and performing battlefield assignments and have been fulfilling them for some time now. As for coordination between our headquarters, it has existed since the first day of our arrival in Slavyansk. That is all.
The Looming Humanitarian Catastrophe
Reporter: Do you know how many people have left the city of Donetsk? Because I heard today from the representatives of the city that over a hundred thousand resident have already left the city.
Alexander Borodai: To whom is your question addressed? To me? Ok. At of this time, over seventy thousand resident have left Donetsk. This is indeed the truth. Not a hundred thousand, but over seventy thousand. It is natural that this process will continue.
The worse the situation gets, the more dangerous it becomes for the lives [of the residents], the more difficult it gets from the social standpoint, naturally, the more residents will leave. I will remind you that I have already said at many press-conferences that the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the entire territory of Donbass, is not only facing the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe, but that this catastrophe is already upon us.
It is simply that, as any phenomenon of this kind, it does not appear overnight in its full vigour, but the situation develops progressively. And so, this situation has been developing gradually, and it is becoming worse and worse.
It is understood that, in Slavyansk, a situation like that was created a long time ago, and that it was very bad there. Well, we are not here to talk about it. It is understood that it will become worse here the more this goes on, and that the residents will leave the city, as well as others on the territory of DPR – this is natural. We are attempting to help them in this regard.
The Svyato-Tikhonovskiy Icon of the Mother of God
Alexander Borodai: I would like to further add; perhaps this will be the last thing for today. We have news, and this news is very happy for us. When I spoke about help from Russia – well, today, from Russia, we received the Icon of the Militia, the Svyato-Tkhonovsky Icon of the Mother of God.
This is the Icon that Russian militiamen, Russian warriors venerated during the time of the Patriotic War of 1812. We are immensely grateful to the people that transported this Icon here. And, now, all of our fighters, whether they belong to the Militia, to Vostok, to Oplot, to the Republic Guard, and to any other of our units, can come and pray to it. As we are all Orthodox, I hope that this Icon will help us to defend our land and our people, to push back the enemy, and finally to secure the victory. Thank you.
The Breakout from Slavyansk
Reporter: Can you tell us what losses the Militia suffered in its retreat from Slavyansk, what were the human casualties, and what forces remain, how many armoured vehicles and other armaments?
Igor Strelkov: Let me put it this way – over 90% of the personnel was able to withdraw from Slavyansk and successfully made it to Donetsk. Most of our losses were in terms of unreliable militiamen from the Kramatorsk garrison, rather than the casualties suffered during the retreat from Slavyansk.
I repeat that over 90% of the Slavyansk garrison made it here. I am not able to give you specific numbers owing to the fact that it is a military secret. Losses were sustained at the very end of the breakout due to incompetence on the part of one of the commanders.
Reporter: How much weaponry and ammunition was left in Slavyansk?
Igor Strelkov: We retained a certain quantity of ammunition, and several armoured vehicles were lost at the very end of the breakout from Slavyansk.
Part II of the Press-Conference Can be Found Here.