Monday, June 2, 2014

“Busty Culture Minister” Natalia Voronina Claims Donetsk Rebels Appointed Her without Asking First


While the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (D.P.R.), in what most of the world regards as southeastern Ukraine, endures an internal power-struggle between an insurgent “Vostok Battalion” of mercenaries and militants from Russia within its ranks, a bit of a comical cabinet shake-up is playing out on the sidelines.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic claims the territory
of Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast (province).
As part of the bizarre forefronting of photogenic models and sex symbols among the pro-Russian political leadership in this part of the world, a Donetsk fashion designer and model named Natalia Voronina (Наталья Воронина) was (as reported recently in this blog) made Minister of Culture of the chaotic quasi-state governed mostly out of administration buildings occupied by pro-Kremlin (and, most likely, Kremlin-directed) militiamen throughout Ukraine’s industrial Donetsk Oblast.  But now it turns out Voronina never gave her assent to the appointment.


As she told an interviewer recently, “It was like this: the people of the republic’s leadership invited me to a meeting and explained that they wanted to get advice in the field of cultural development in the newly created republic.  ...  I’m against the lawlessness of the Kiev junta.  Apparently, my friends saw me as a person whose political views and organizational skills could help in the development of the D.P.R.  But, you know, I’m a creative person and a good organizer, but the ministry of culture for me—it’s too loud.  And I’m not yet old enough to hold such a position.”


Voronina may be slightly modest here: she does have a law degree. And her husband, Aleksandr Kalyusskiy (Александр Калюсский), is the D.P.R.’s Deputy Prime Minister for Social Policy. (As far as I can tell, he actually assents to this appointment, which occurred at the creation of the republic in April.)

 

Voronina turned down the position point-blank at her first opportunity, but the D.P.R. leadership, she says, were hesitant to accept her refusal, and it was not publicly reported for a while.

This “Donetsk People’s Republic” “citizen” makes a fashion statement
more representative of the quasi-state’s politics.
In recent days, the Minister of Energy has also resigned.  That appointee, Alexei Granovsky, tendered his resignation on May 20th because he could not go along with the leadership’s plans to nationalize the energy industry.  (They do seem to be taking the whole “people’s republic” business pretty seriously at times.)  Also, as reported in this blog, the originally announced Minister of Health, Konstantin Scherbakov, is another case of someone who, like Voronina, only heard about his appointment in the media and had to turn the position down.  As Scherbakov said at the time, “I never agreed to this, I never signed any papers, it was a complete surprise.  I work at a medical university.  I have things to do.”  See that same recent article from this blog for the even more bizarre story of the adjacent Lugansk People’s Republic’s minister of culture, Irina Filatova (Ирина Филатова).

The new Russian empire’s fashion culture needs Natalia Voronina more than its
political culture does: she posted this photo to her VKontakte social-network page
to illustrate the fashion crimes committed by those who neglect to place themselves
in the hands of the Voronina fashion house.
For Voronina, part of the surprise was seeing photos of her lifted from social media (including her VKontakte account—that being the Russian equivalent of Facebook) and published and broadcast alongside reports of her appointment, often with the media nickname “the Busty Culture Minister” (Пышногрудый миминистр культуры).


Voronina runs a successful fashion house, where, according to one report, her employees greet her each morning with “Good morning, goddess.”

“Good morning, goddess.”
But who will start the day being greeted with “Good morning, Minister of Culture?”  Apparently, the D.P.R. is in talks with one Svetlana Zolina (Светлана Зорина), the former director of the department of culture for the city of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.  She was removed from office and charged with criminal counts in April for disobeying a court order to reinstate a museum director whom she had fired.  As a result, she is now on the run from the law and living in rebel-controlled Donetsk oblast.

Svetlana Zorina may be ready to fill Voronina’s (very expensive gold lamé) shoes.
A version of Kyiv’s municipal flag sits on her desk.
It is not yet clear whether Zolina will be appointed the unrecognized republic’s new culture minister.  But she has two of the qualifications which the D.P.R. apparently demands in a minister of culture: she has extensive experience in administration of cultural institutions, and she is a smokin’-hot redhead.  Poor Natalia Voronina only really met one of those criteria.

Svetlana Zorina
[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  (That is shorter than the previous working title.)  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]





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