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Pro-Russia military chief quits

August 14, 2014

The main military commander of pro-Russian rebels, Igor Girkin, has quit. Former PM of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic has confirmed "Tsar" as Strelkov's replacement.

Igor Strelkov
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

A leading separatist military leader in east Ukraine, Igor Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, has quit his post as defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

In a video posted by Russia's pro-Kremlin Life News website, Alexander Borodai, the former PM of Donetsk People's Republic, confirmed Strelkov's resignation but provided no reason for his departure.

In a statement on their website, the rebels said that Girkin, who was born in Russia, has resigned "in connection with his transfer to another job."

Borodai denied reports that he had been wounded, describing the rumors as "total rubbish."

"The [Donetsk People's Republic] already has a new defense minister," said Boradai.

The website of Donetsk People's Republic named Vladimir Kononov as Girkin's replacement.

Borodai added that the new defense minister went by the nom de guerre of "Tsar."

Girkin's resignation is the third change at the top of the separatist leadership in the past week.

The news came following reports thatartillery fire had hit near the center of the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk for the first time in the current fighting.

A Russian humanitarian aid convoy has also approached the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian officials fear the convoy may be being used to smuggle weapons to rebels or to launch an invasion.

Moscow has dismissed this, saying it was working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

kb/sb (AFP/Reuters)