Denis Pushilin

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Denis Pushilin
Denis Pushilin (cropped, 2022-02-21).jpg
Pushilin in 2022
Acting Head of the Donetsk People's Republic (Occupied by Russia)[1]
Assumed office
4 October 2022
Preceded byHimself
Head of the Donetsk People's Republic
In office
20 November 2018 – 4 October 2022
Acting: 7 September 2018 – 20 November 2018
Prime MinisterHimself (acting)
Alexander Ananchenko
Vladimir Pashkov (acting)
Alexander Ananchenko
Vitaliy Khotsenko
Preceded byAlexander Zakharchenko
Dmitry Trapeznikov (acting)
Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic
In office
7 September 2018 – 18 October 2018
Preceded byDmitry Trapeznikov (acting)
Succeeded byAlexander Ananchenko
Chairman of the Donetsk People's Council
In office
4 September 2015 – 14 September 2018
Preceded byAndrei Purgin
Succeeded byOlga Makeeva
In office
15 May 2014 – 18 July 2014
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byVladimir Makovych (acting)
Personal details
Born (1981-05-09) 9 May 1981 (age 41)
Makiivka, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Political partyUnited Russia (2021–present)
Donetsk Republic (2014–2022)
Other political
Donetsk Republic (2022–present)
SpouseElena Pushilina

Denis Vladimirovich Pushilin (Russian: Дени́с Влади́мирович Пуши́лин, pronounced [dʲɪˈnʲis vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ pʊˈʂɨlʲɪn]; Ukrainian: Денис Володимирович Пушилін, romanizedDenys Volodymyrovych Pushylin; born 9 May 1981[2]) is a politician from the Donbas region, who is serving as the Head of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) since 2018.[citation needed] He holds the position in acting capacity ever since the Russian annexation of the DPR in 2022.

He had previously served as Chairman of the People's Council, and became the acting head of state and government following the assassination of incumbent Alexander Zakharchenko amidst the conflict in the east Ukraine region.[3] He successfully ran for election to a full term in the controversial 2018 elections.[4] Pushilin's role in MMM Global prior to his political career is cited by critics that describe him as a fraudster who was involved in a Ponzi scheme.[5]

Early life[edit]

Pushilin was born 9 May 1981 in Makiivka, Donetsk Oblast, in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.[6] Pushilin is the son of workers of the Makiivka Metallurgical Factory, Vladimir Pushilin and Valentina Khasanova.[7] He graduated in 1998 from Makiivka Lyceum No. 1, a school combining secondary and professional education. From 1999 to 2000, he served in the National Guard of Ukraine in a special assignment battalion in Crimea.[7] After leaving the military, he studied Enterprise Economics at Donbas National Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture, but did not receive a degree.[8] From 2002 to 2006, Pushilin worked for a trading firm, Solodkye Zhittya ("Sweet Life”).[7]

MMM involvement[edit]

From 1989 to 1994, a Russian Ponzi scheme called MMM cost its participants millions of dollars prior to disbanding.[9][10][7] In 2011, Sergei Mavrodi launched a new MMM. Pushilin volunteered for this successor company from 2011 to 2013 and became a key leader.[11] The new MMM openly admitted to being a pyramid scheme.[12] Pushilin was not shy in promoting involvement with the company.[13]

The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine allowed registration of the MMM Party under the chairmanship of Mavrodi. It is interpreted as an abbreviation for "We Have a Goal" (Ukrainian: Ми Маємо Мету). Pushilin joined this new party in 2012.[11] Opposing Yanukovych[14] and unknown in the Kyiv region, Pushilin got 0.08% of the votes and failed to win a seat in the December 2013 repeat elections of the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election in the 94th district (located in Obukhiv).[15][16] According to his December 2013 election information, Pushilin was "not working" at the time.[2][8]

Donetsk politics[edit]

Early separatism and sanctions[edit]

Pushilin speaking at an April protest in Donetsk

On 5 April 2014, Pushilin led a rally in Donetsk, identifying himself as deputy to Pavel Gubarev, the "People's Governor" of Donetsk. Pushilin demanded a referendum, like that of Crimea, on the question independence from the new Ukrainian government in Kyiv.[17]

By the end of April, the European Union (EU) had placed sanctions on Pushilin, which included freezing assets and banning him from entering EU member states. In June, the United States added Pushilin to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. His name has since been added to sanction lists of Australia, Canada, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.[18][19][20][21]

Chairman of the Supreme Council[edit]

On 19 May 2014, Pushilin became the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Donetsk People's Republic, and under the draft constitution adopted on May 15, the new republic's head of state.[22][23] In June 2014, he announced that DPR businesses which engaged in tax evasion would be nationalized.[24] Pushilin did not envision the Donetsk People's Republic becoming an independent state but preferred to join the Russian Federation (which he saw as a potential renewed Russian Empire).[14]

Pushilin survived two assassination attempts, both occurring within a week on the 7th[25] and 12th[26] of June 2014. Pushilin was in Moscow on those dates, as was widely reported at the time.[27]

Pushilin serving as vice-chairman in March 2015

Pushilin resigned from his post of the Chairman of the Donetsk People's Republic in July 2014.[28] From 14 November 2014 to 4 September 2015, he served as a vice-chairman of the Donetsk People's Republic Council then he replaced Andrei Purgin and became the Chairman of the council once again.[29]

From 2014 to 2018, Pushilin officially represented the DPR at the Trilateral Contact Group and the Minsk II agreements. The Minsk II agreements subsequently failed, with each side accusing the other of violating the ceasefire terms.[30]

Head of the Donetsk People's Republic[edit]

On 31 August 2018, DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko was assassinated in a bombing of a restaurant in Donetsk.[3] After a week-long interim leadership by Dmitry Trapeznikov, Pushilin was appointed acting Head of the DPR on 7 September 2018; he was to hold this position until elections on 11 November 2018.[4]

On 21 September 2018, he submitted documents to be registered in the November election.[31] He won with 60.85% of the vote.[32] On 6 December 2021 Pushilin became a member of the Russian ruling party United Russia.[33] United Russia chairman Dmitry Medvedev personally handed him his party ticket during the party's annual congress in Moscow.[33]

Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russian annexation of the Donetsk People's Republic[edit]

Pushilin signing an agreement for cooperation with and recognition from Russia in February 2022

On 21 February 2022, Pushilin signed an agreement for friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between the Donetsk People's Republic and the Russian Federation. At this ceremony were also signed an agreement between the LPR and Russia, and executive orders by President Putin to officially recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR.[34]

In April 2022, news outlets noted that during Pushilin's visit to Mariupol, he awarded Senior Lieutenant Roman Vorobyov a medal, while he was wearing patches affiliated with neo-Nazism: the Totenkopf used by the 3rd SS Panzer Division, and the valknut.[35]

Pushilin (left) shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a concert celebrating the annexations of the four regions on 30 September 2022

In September 2022, Pushilin suggested coordinating a joint referendum with Luhansk People's Republic leader Leonid Pasechnik on the question of joining the Russian Federation.[36] The referendum, also organised in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, received widespread international condemnation, and passed in Donetsk with over 99% approval, according to official figures.[37] Pushilin said in an interview with TASS that he would be heading to Moscow with the final protocol of a recent referendum on joining Russia "to formalize reunification." On September 30, Pushilin attended in Moscow the ceremony in which Vladimir Putin formally announced the annexation of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, together with the other pro-Russian occupation heads Volodymyr Saldo, Leonid Pasechnik and Yevgeny Balitsky.[38]


  1. ^ "Executive Order on Acting Head of Donetsk People's Republic".
  2. ^ a b Денис Пушилін: Мажоритарні округи Київська область Округ №94 [Denis Pushylin: Majority districts Kyiv oblast District №94] (in Ukrainian). 2013. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Pro-Russian rebel leader killed in eastern Ukraine blast". The Washington Post. 31 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b Парламент ДНР сменил исполняющего обязанности главы республики. Meduza (in Russian). Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  5. ^ Sauer, Pjotr (24 February 2022). "'Their golden hour': Donetsk and Luhansk leaders revel in rising profile". The Guardian. Moscow. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  6. ^ "Биография Дениса Пушилина" (in Russian). РИА Новости. 28 August 2014. Archived from the original on 2 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Пушилин, Денис Владимирович. ITAR-TASS
  8. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) Short bio of candidate Pushilin Archived 15 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Central Election Commission of Ukraine
  9. ^ Financial Times, Donetsk governor battles to restore order, by John Reed, 26/27 April 2014, p5.
  10. ^ Ukrayinska Pravda, Глава уряду самопроголошеної Донецької народної республіки: "Зараз мені ніколи займатися МММ" [The head of government of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk: "Now I have no time to engage with MMM"], by Екатерина Сергацкова [Ekaterina Sergatskova], 15 April 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Facenews". Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  12. ^ "MMM Volunteer". Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  13. ^ Почему Пушилин покинул ряды сепаратистов на Украине?. BBC. 22 July 2014
  14. ^ a b ""We want to join a Russian Empire:" Discussion with the Leader of the Donetsk People's Republic". Center on Global Interests. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  15. ^ Stephanie Höppner (20 April 2014). "Unknown takes separatist spotlight in Ukraine". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  16. ^ (in Ukrainian) Results in single-member district 94 in 2013 repeat election Archived 3 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, NB News
  17. ^ "Новый лидер донецких сепаратистов оказался функционером МММ" [The new leader of the Donetsk separatists used to be member of MMM]. Mirror Weekly (in Ukrainian). 6 April 2014.
  18. ^ Luhn, Alec (29 April 2014). "Ukraine: EU sanctions list – who's who". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Autonomous Sanctions (Designated Persons and Entities and Declared Persons – Russia and Ukraine) List 2014". Federal Register of Legislation (Australian Government). Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Норвегія приєдналася до санкцій ЄС проти росії". Ukrininform (in Ukrainian). 18 March 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  21. ^ "Ukraine-related Designations". U.S. Department of Treasury. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  22. ^ "ДОНЕЦКАЯ НАРОДНАЯ РЕСПУБЛИКА КОНСТИТУЦИЯ". Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  23. ^ "ДОНЕЦКАЯ НАРОДНАЯ РЕСПУБЛИКА" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 February 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  24. ^ "Pushilin: Donetsk enterprises refusing to pay taxes to budget of Donetsk People's Republic will be nationalized". Kyiv Post. Interfax. 14 June 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  25. ^ "В Донецке совершено покушение на председателя "Верховного совета ДНР" Пушилина, его помощник убит" [Assassination attempt in Donetsk on the chairman of the "Supreme Council of the DPR" Pushilin, his assistant killed] (in Russian). RBK Ukraine (РБК-Україна [uk]). 7 June 2014.
  26. ^ "Donetsk. Car Bomb For Head DPR Pushilin. 12 June 2014". YouTube. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  27. ^ Dmitry Tymchuk (14 June 2014). "Dmitry Tymchuk's military blog: No end to Kremlin cynicism". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  28. ^ "Денис Пушилин ушел в отставку". Газета.Ru. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  29. ^ Пушилин возглавил парламент ДНР [Pushilin led DPR parliament astray] (in Russian). Interfax. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Fighting Rages in Eastern Ukraine as Cease-Fire Deadline Approaches". The Wall Street Journal. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  31. ^ "Денис Пушилин стал первым кандидатом на должность главы ДНР — Россия 24". YouTube. Archived from the original on 22 February 2022. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Donbass elections helped avert chaos after DPR leader's murder, says Russian diplomat". TASS. 15 November 2018. Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  33. ^ a b Ukraine conflict: Putin invites separatist leaders into his party. The Times (6 December 2021)
  34. ^ "Signing of documents recognising Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics". 21 February 2022. Archived from the original on 22 February 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  35. ^ "A soldier with neo-Nazi symbols on his arm was given a medal by a Russia-backed separatist republic for killing Ukrainian 'nationalists'". Business Insider. 6 April 2022.
  36. ^ "Donbas separatist leader urges referendum on joining Russia". Reuters. 19 September 2022. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  37. ^ "Final vote count in Donetsk referendum ends in favor of joining Russia". Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  38. ^ Landay, Jonathan (30 September 2022). "Defiant Putin proclaims Ukrainian annexation as military setback looms". Reuters. Archived from the original on 6 October 2022. Retrieved 1 October 2022.

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