Excuse my ignorance, but I could find no source about this in English, although I'm sure there are plenty in Russian... So, after the official annexation/incorporation of Donetsk and Luhansk into Russia, who runs these regions, locally? Did Putin appoint some governors? Are they the same people that ran DPR and LPR before the official annexation?

N.B. I did find a news article that Putin declared martial law in these regions back in October. I'm not sure what that means in practice. Are they under direct military rule now?

  • So you was not just asking about who is runing that regions, but also all members of that local governments?
    – convert
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 22:31

2 Answers 2


Yes, Putin did appoint some governors, who used to be pro-Russian local politicians or pro-Russian militia leaders before. This Russian article explains it:

Who temporarily headed the four new regions of Russia

The President of Russia appointed the acting heads of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions

On October 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws on the admission of new territories into Russia and appointed interim leaders. Now there are 89 subjects in Russia.

Who became the acting heads of the new territories

Denis Pushilin will lead the DPR;

Leonid Pasechnik appointed head of the LPR;

Vladimir Saldo – acting Head of the Kherson region;

Evgeny Balitsky will lead the Zaporozhye region.

Denis Pushilin is the head of the Donetsk People's Republic since 2018.

Leonid Pasechnik is the head of the Lugansk People's Republic since 2017.

Volodomyr Saldo was the runner-up to the election for mayor of Kherson in 2020 and was a member of the city council of the city of Kherson when Russia occupied the region. Russia had already appointed him as the civilian half of the "civilian-military regional administration" of the region on April 26th.

Yevgeny Balitsky was a deputy of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Council before the invasion. On March 11, Russia detained Ivan Fedorov, the elected mayor of Melitopol. A week later Balitsky became the de-facto mayor of the city (although Halyna Danilchenko was officially appointed to that position by the Russian invaders).

  • 2
    @Philipp. Calling the leaders of LPR and DPR local politicians is a bit incorect, as they were never such in Ukraine.
    – convert
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 13:53
  • 1
    Well, that depends how "political" you consider the pro-Russian militias in east Ukraine. I clarified that.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 13:56
  • War and politics are two sides of the same coin Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 18:38

It seem that the "nothing changed" answer, which I initially accepted at face value, may not be quite so. While the nominal figure heads were left in place, it seems Russia has done "changes under the hood" this summer, e.g. in the DPR:

First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko’s grandiloquent recent visit to the region left no doubt that he has been given responsibility for the region instead of Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak, who has become far less visible since the start of the war, and has most likely fallen out of favor in the Kremlin. The DPR’s new prime minister is Vitaly Khotsenko, a finalist in the Leaders of Russia management competition, a brainchild of Kiriyenko. Khotsenko’s appointment as head of the DPR government was followed by an influx of other Russian bureaucrats to leadership positions in both republics, and more such appointments are certain to follow.

The second factor is the final departure from office in the republics of fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Sergei Kurchenko’s protégés (he disappeared from the radar back at the start of the invasion, having been sanctioned by the EU). This process began last year, when the Russian businessman Yevgeny Yurchenko was appointed as the new boss of industry in the Donbas.

Such reshuffles may lead to more competent governance in Donbas—as far as possible under conditions of war. For all their faults, former Russian deputy governors and deputy ministers could be considered a vast improvement in terms of the managerial skills needed for civilian bureaucracy compared with the local field commanders who had clawed their way to power in the republics. [...]

Amid this change in government, the fate of the Donbas’s most high-profile politician, DPR leader Denis Pushilin, is particularly interesting. An apparent master of political survival, he is just about the only one left from the original lineup of the leaders of the “Russian spring” to remain in power.

It's interesting the spin that TASS put on that move. Their headline was "Kremlin respects DPR leader’s decision to reshuffle republic’s government". But Khotsenko is clearly a Russian politician whose only prior ties to the DPR (even TASS failed to identify any), seem to be claiming Dnipro[petrovsk] as his birth place, while most of his career, like that of his father, being tied to the Yamalo-Nenets Okrug (in Siberia).

But in a "concidentally" timed move,

Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the Lugansk People’s Republic, on Thursday appointed ex-Deputy Governor of Russia’s Kurgan Region Vladislav Kuznetsov First Deputy Chairman of the LPR’s government.

As there's not much of a biography of Kuznetsov I could find in English (except this, where we find out he was also a member of the Bashkortorstan parliament) his prior relationship with Luhansk [if any] is even more obscure.

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