Written by Chris Covert exclusively for SouthFront
Igor Plotnitsky, president of the Luganks People’s Republic was wounded in a bomb attack on Saturday morning, according to Russian language news accounts.
Plotnitsky is reported in serious condition, but he is expected to survive the attack.
According to a news account on korespondent.net, the attack took place at 0750 hrs in Lugansk city at the intersection of Karpinski and Vatutin when the Toyota SUV he was riding in passed a roadside directional bomb packed with about 15 kilograms of explosives.
Though speculation as to the culprits has been muted in Lugansk official media, Ukrainian officials have denied involvement in the attack, themselves speculating that the attack may be part of a larger power struggle within Lugansk.
Adviser to Ukrainian president Igor Poroshenko, Alexander Motuzyanik said in a separate korrespondent.net report that Lugansk officials have been involved in an internal power struggle for “cash” and resources. Other speculations say that recent statements by Plotnitsky regarding how his forces would respect the truce regardless of what happens in Donetsk may have deepened a rift between the two republics.
Motuzyanik also pointed to past attacks on commanders of military formations who have been killed through unknown circumstances. The best known, Alexei Mozgovoy, commander of the Ghost Brigade in Alchevsk was killed almost a year ago in a bomb and small arms attack. The involvement of Plotnitsky and his government was vehemently denied by both Lugansk and Donetsk officials at the time. Some of Mozgovoy’s aids at the time opened fingered Plotnitsky in that attack.
The death of Mozgovoy, one in a line of several commanders who were killed in roadside attacks, did not set well with other formation commanders in Lugansk.
A number of other rebel formation commanders in both Donetsk and Lugansk have seen a violent end since the winter of 2015, many of them Cossacks, who had been angered by Lugansk’s insistence on dealing with Ukrainian authorities by selling products for cash. The most famous of these, Colonel Pavel Dremov was killed in December, 2015, seven months after he made severe public criticisms of military commanders in the Debaltsevo defensive operation in February, 2015. Those remarks came rapidly on the heels of Dremov being awarded the rank of colonel and an honorific for his regiment.
Like Dremov, Mozgovoy has severely criticized the leadership of both Donetsk and Lugansk for the defensive operation in Debaltsevo.
Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org