In mid-July Denis Pushilin resigned as chair of the Supreme Soviet of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). In early August Alexander Borodai resigned as Prime Minister of the DPR.
In mid-August Valery Bolotov resigned as head – he was always simply referred to as “the head” – of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Igor Strelkov-Girkin resigned as Minister of Defence of the DPR.
According to Boris Kagarlitsky (a longstanding Russian socialist who has turned cheerleader for the separatists), the resignations were the result of pressure by the Kremlin, in preparation for a deal with the Kiev government at the expense of what Kagarlitsky calls “Novorossiya”.
There is another, and much more straightforward, explanation for the resignations.
The fact that the key separatist leaders (Strelkov-Girkin and Borodai) were fascist in their politics, Russian in their citizenship, and directly linked to the Russian security services, made a mockery the claims that they represented a popular uprising.
Replacing them by lesser-known locals removed that problem. Paradoxically, it also underlined the degree of Russian involvement: the decisions about the resignations came from Moscow.