Denis Pushilin, the chairman of the "people's council" of the Russia-backed separatist formation called the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) in eastern Ukraine, has been selected as the acting head of the DNR.
Russian media reported on September 7 that Pushilin, 37, had been selected for the post, which was vacated when Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko was assassinated by a bomb blast in a city café on August 31.
Earlier, self-proclaimed prosecutors in the unrecognized formation annulled the appointment of Dmitry Trapeznikov to the post, saying it could only be filled by "a first deputy prime minister of the DNR."
Pushilin reportedly survived two assassination attempts against him in June 2014.
Also on September 7, the Donetsk separatists' "people's council" designated November 11 as the date for the election of a head of the DNR to replace Pushilin.
The move seemed to violate the Minsk accords for regulating the conflict in eastern Ukraine, under which the question of elections in areas controlled by the separatists must be agreed by the tripartite contact group that includes representatives of Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the separatists.
After Zakharchenko's killing, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the bombing was "a Ukrainian provocation…obviously aimed at derailing the implementation of the Minsk agreements."
Pushilin said on September 7 that "we have yet to decide on the DNR's representative in Minsk."
"I believe there are lots of worthy people who are ready to represent the DNR on the Minsk platform," he said. "We will make the decision shortly."
Although Russia denies involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Moscow has provided military, economic, and political support to the breakaway movements controlling parts of Ukraine's Luhansk and Donetsk regions.