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MOSCOW, July 16. /TASS/. Vice-speaker of the People’s Council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin on Wednesday denied rumors of possible disbandment of the DPR Defense Ministry or replacement of the republic’s leadership.
Pushilin’s statement, posted on the website of the Donetsk News Agency, notes that "over the past few days, the amount of rumors, gossip and provocations on the part of various figures regarding the political life of the Donetsk People’s Republic has sharply increased."
He said talks of Defense Ministry disbandment may only be held by "a person far from understanding the military situation in the region" or one who is hostile toward Donbas.
Pushilin also commented on rumors of an alleged replacement of the republic’s head.
"I want to responsibly tell all ‘heroes’ of Donbas who fled that unlike them, Alexander Zakharchenko has worked in Donetsk for all this time and has shared all trouble with the people of the Donetsk People’s Republic," he said.
After a coup occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, mass protests soon erupted in Ukraine’s east, where local residents, mostly Russian speakers, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities, formed militia and started fighting for their rights.
In response, Kiev in April 2014 announced the start of an antiterrorism operation in east Ukraine, which involved the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry’s National Guard and volunteer battalions made up of Euromaidan activists.
Ukrainian troops have been engaged in fierce fighting with local militias during Kiev’s military operation, underway since mid-April 2014, against the breakaway territories - the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics constituting parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Massive shelling of residential neighborhoods, including with the use of aviation, has killed thousands and led to a humanitarian disaster in the area.