“Leader of Russia”, “creative manager” and pilot. Which “ministers” Russia sent to rule Donbass

Denis Pushilin explained the appointment of Russian officials as ministers by "the need for an early transition to the Russian legal field, to the Russian paradigm of public administration." In early May, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who was previously responsible for distributing money for construction and renovation in Tatarstan and Moscow, began to pay special attention to the territories of the "DNR" and "LNR". For the first time, the unrecognized republics are mentioned in his Telegram channel on May 8, 2022, when he visited the cities occupied by Russia. Since then, it is Khusnullin who has been constantly speaking on behalf of the Russian government about what amounts will be allocated for the restoration of the "DPR" and "LPR" and what work will be carried out there, as well as what goods will be taken out of the territory of the occupied Kherson region, although no specific position in the east of Ukraine, the vice-premier officially does not have.

Vitaly Khotsenko

In early June, four middle-class Russian officials received appointments in Donetsk. The “premier” of the “DPR” was the finalist of the “Leaders of Russia” contest, the 36-year-old head of the department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Vitaly Khotsenko. Although he was born in the Dnieper, he was educated and built Khotsenko's career in Russia. Studied at Moscow State University and RANEPA (at the so-called "School of Governors"), also graduated from the Singapore Institute of Marketing and the Specialized Institute of Jurisprudence. Three years after university, he worked in small positions in the administration of the YaNAO, and then he was immediately appointed Minister of Energy, Industry and Communications of the Stavropol Territory. Such a rapid career advancement - Khotsenko became the minister of the region's finance industry at the age of 28 - was associated by local journalists with his father, who headed the crime control department in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Khotsenko ended up in the Stavropol Territory together with Governor Vladimir Vladimirov, in whose office he worked for three years in Yamal.

Khotsenko’s income after being appointed to the federal Ministry of Industry and Trade in 2019 increased dramatically: in 2019, he declared a considerable income for the director of the department of 6.8 million rubles, and in 2020 - 12.3 million.

Vitaly Khotsenko calls the unification of the legislation of the republic with the Russian one, the restoration of the housing stock and social institutions, the launch and restoration of enterprises as his tasks as the “premier” of the “DPR”. He has already managed to speak at SPIEF and announce that Russia will invest “more than 2 trillion rubles” in the development of the DPR in two years. According to him, now the government operates with a “development budget of about 100-150 billion rubles” - this is comparable, for example, with the income of the Leningrad Region or Dagestan in 2020 and more than the income of Chechnya.

Alexander Kostomarov

Having trained as a military pilot in the late 90s, Kostomarov did not join the armed forces, but immediately began working as a manager in a construction company in Yekaterinburg. By 2002, he moved to the civil service, becoming a young official in his native Chelyabinsk, as well as the chief specialist in party building in the United Russia party, which was gaining popularity.

As a result, having almost no managerial experience, 35-year-old Kostomarov was appointed deputy governor of the Arkhangelsk region in 2012. However, having been in office for only six months, Kostomarov moved to the Moscow region, where he began to deal with the territorial policy of the region and in four years became deputy head of the government of the Moscow region. It is Kostomarov, who is responsible for domestic politics, who is associated with the scandals of the municipal reform in the Moscow region and the organization of election campaigns.

Three years later, he was appointed vice-governor of the Lipetsk region, but a few months later, Governor Igor Artamonov announced that Alexander Kostomarov was resigning and “would be in demand in the Presidential Administration,” and a few months later the official was appointed first deputy governor of the Ulyanovsk region.

Kostomarov in Russia is generally considered a creature of the internal policy department of the Presidential Administration. Ulyanovsk political strategist Lev Pavlyuchkov claims that "Kostomarov has long been known in the market of anti-crisis political managers and has a good personal reputation against the background of well-known and promoted specialists." Political scientist Alexander Kynev also connects the official with the Presidential Administration. “Alexander Kostomarov is a professional, but he is a serviceman, he works where he was sent,” he notes. Kommersant's sources claim that Alexander Kostomarov gets along well with the security forces: "So this is a kind of compromise: he can work both along the line of force and along the ideological one."

The wife of Alexander Kostomarov is one of the wealthiest bureaucratic wives in Russia. According to the declaration, its annual income in recent years has ranged from 150 to almost 200 million rubles. What business she is engaged in is unknown.

Evgeny Solntsev

Little is known about Evgeny Solntsev. Prior to his appointment as “deputy chairman of the government” of the “DPR”, he was assistant to the Minister of Construction and Housing and Public Utilities of Russia, but Solntsev built most of his career at Russian Railways. Born and studied in Voronezh, after university he worked at a construction site, and received his first managerial position before the age of 25 - he became deputy head of the Zheldortrest construction and installation trust (a structure of Russian Railways). Subsequently, Solntsev held many positions in Russian Railways related to the construction and distribution of contracts, he left the company as head of the directorate for the comprehensive reconstruction of railways. As Vgudok , an independent publication about railways in Russia, wrote, Solntsev was one of those managers who systematically distributed government contracts in favor of the Renaissance Epoch company. This company in 2020 attracted the attention of investigators and led to searches at the headquarters of Russian Railways in Moscow.

It was Solntsev who led the construction of railway facilities for the Sochi Olympics, and then the start of construction of BAM-2, the Northern Latitudinal Railway. By 2020, the new part of the Baikal-Amur Mainline was supposed to transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year, but in the end, things did not go beyond geological and geodetic surveys: the cost of the project increased many times, but the government failed to find money for it.

Andrey Chertkov

Neither the education nor the career of Andrei Chertkov, a United Russia official from Nizhny Novgorod, has ever been connected with the coal industry. He has been in the civil service in his native region since 2010. During this time, he managed to work in the administration of Nizhny Novgorod and even headed it for six months. After that, he worked for four years in the Ministry of Energy and Housing and Public Utilities of the Nizhny Novgorod Region - most of the time he headed it. In the fall of 2020, Chertkov was elected head of the Kstovsky district of the region. The industry of the district mainly consists of oil refineries of the LUKOIL concern.

Chertkov calls himself a "creative manager." Before the Russian court declared Meta an extremist organization, he maintained a rather popular Instagram account for the head of the district. In one of his last posts, Chertkov replied to a local resident’s complaint about a strong price increase: “And they didn’t worry like that.” Of the newly appointed officials, he is the only one who faced the problem of refugees from the "DPR" and "LPR" - it was in the Kstovsky district that they arrived before the war, on February 21.

Chertkov's wife, Inna, is a rather wealthy woman by local standards. She owns a private kindergarten and organizes events, she is friends with Russian stars. According to the income statement, Inna Chertkova has earned an average of at least a million rubles a month in recent years. Most of the family's property was written to her. “With kindness and a sense of responsibility and a share of our CHERTKO humor, we drove on! 💯🚀,” she wrote on her Instagram page after the announcement of the appointment of her husband to a position in the “DPR”. Residents of Kstov reacted differently to the news about the departure of the head of administration to Donetsk: someone was glad that Chertkov would go “to the front line” and, possibly, die there, while someone was indignant at the fact that Chertkov, having ruined the municipal services in region, will go to do the same in the Donbass. They also previously reacted ambiguously to the news that the region would help restore the Donbass: most often people wondered who would then make repairs in their region.

Anatoly Nesterenko

He has worked in the "Ministry of Coal and Energy" of the "DPR" since at least 2016 - as first deputy minister, then minister under Alexander Zakharchenko. He first became a minister in 2018, after his predecessor, Eduard Golenko, was arrested (the authorities accused him of creating an organized criminal group and embezzling funds from state-owned enterprises in the amount of more than 100 million rubles), the second time already under Pushilin, in 2022. Nesterenko over the years had to deal with issues of paying salaries to miners, social security and security. Often he himself appeared in public in a miner's uniform.

Dmitry Gartsev

The young official (Gartsev was barely 35), despite his age, had already worked in the Russian Ministry of Health and for two years was the Deputy Minister of Health of the Sakhalin Region. He graduated from Sechenov University ten years ago, but had no medical experience. Gartsev became a medical officer, worked with medical support in the Russian Ministry of Health. Until 2019, he was responsible for organizing ambulance at Kremlin events (for example, at the Kremlin Christmas tree or the Victory Parade), was responsible for planning logistics in the regions, organizing the evacuation of patients from abroad. In 2019, the official was sent to work in the Sakhalin Region, where he immediately received the high position of Deputy Minister of Health, responsible for logistics . Neither the local media nor the deputies were satisfied with his work on Sakhalin. Speaking to them, all three years Gartsev was forced to make excuses both for the insufficient supply of hospitals and for the lack of specialists. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, residents of the city of Makarov complained to journalists and the governor that Gartsev had decided to place the children's department of the emergency hospital in the toilet instead of the promised construction of a new hospital building. In 2021, the official was returned back to Moscow. At his native Sechenov University, he headed the Department for the Development of Regional Partnerships, and also became the director of one of the projects of the Priority 2030 state program.

Alexander Oprishchenko

A traumatologist from Donetsk, he headed the "Ministry of Health" of the "DPR" in 2015-2018 and since 2020. For the first time, he became a “minister” after Alexander Zakharchenko, one of the first leaders of the “DPR”, Alexander Zakharchenko, treated a leg wounded during the battles for Debaltseve in the Republican Trauma Center he headed. At the same time, Oprishchenko also has a Russian passport, and at the height of the pandemic, he bought an apartment in an elite new building in Rostov-on-Don.

Dmitry Shmelev

"Minister of Revenues and Fees" Dmitry Shmelev graduated from the university with a degree in programming, before his appointment he worked in the tax service of the Rostov region. For 17 years, he rose to the rank of deputy head of the Federal Tax Service for the region. In his last year in service, Shmelev was responsible for ensuring bankruptcy procedures and settling the debts of Rostov companies.

Previously, the position was held by Aleksey Rudakov, a native of the “state security” of the “DPR”, where since 2014 he has been fighting “economic crimes”. In 2020, Rudakov headed the customs service of the "DPR", and in March 2022 Pushilin appointed him "Minister for Revenues and Duties".

Denis Kurashov

The Stavropol official in the "DPR" was invited to the post of "Minister of Communications and Digitalization." Kurashov is a military signalman. Since 2012, he headed the Stavropol Regional Information Technology Center, and since 2017 he has been Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry. He is the only one of the newly appointed officials of the “DPR” who uses the new Russian Z-symbols in his social networks: on the userpic of his VKontakte profile there is a tank, the letter Z and the inscription “Za justice”. In the Stavropol Territory, Kurashov developed the Gosuslugi portal and established electronic document management between the Territory and Moscow.

Kurashov was brought to the service by his former head of the Stavropol ministry, Vitaly Khotsenko. Earlier, the 36-year-old official became the “prime minister” of the “DPR”.

Olga Koludarova

The official of the Ministry of Education of Russia, 38-year-old Olga Koludarova was born and studied in Izhevsk. At the Udmurt State University, she studied law, then decided to become a candidate of science. Koludarova was engaged in the study of the behavior of juvenile delinquents - she wrote articles on this topic and in 2011 she defended her dissertation. After that, she headed the department of legal and personnel work in the Ministry of Education and Science of Udmurtia. In 2018, Olga moved to Moscow and began working at the Ministry of Education and Science (later renamed the Ministry of Education). For three years, she did not move up the career ladder and remained the deputy director of the Department for Education, Additional Education and Children's Recreation.

The official lives in the Moscow region and is raising her daughter herself, who bears her father's surname (Bogdanov). He is fond of gardening and supports the domestic auto industry - he drives a Lada X-Ray crossover. In 2020, she earned about 2.7 million rubles, that is, the average monthly income of a federal official is a little more than 220 thousand rubles. However, this is not only a salary, since the income of her immediate boss, Natalya Naumova, is much more modest. Whether the tasks and monetary compensation in the post of "Minister of Education" of the "DPR" will be able to compare with the conditions in the capital is unknown.

The appointment of Koludarova was the reason for the demotion of Mikhail Kushakov. He has been working in the “Ministry of Education” of the “DPR” since 2015 (first as Deputy Minister, and since 2019 as Minister). His goal was to transfer the education system of the “DPR” to Russian educational standards and programs. Prior to his civil service in the "DPR", he was Vice-Rector for International Affairs of the Pridnestrovian State University named after Taras Shevchenko. However, according to the SBU, Kushakov is a lieutenant colonel in the reserve of Russia's state security agencies.

American Daily Newspaper

Learn More →