CHERNOGORSK, Chernarus (AAN) – Confusion as US first declares, then denies capture of rebel leaders.
In a confusing backtrack, reports leaked to the press by US navy personnel claiming the capture of ChDKZ leaders inside Chernogorsk were categorically denied by the US Defence Dept. press office this evening.
In private emails leaked to the press – reportedly from low ranking Navy personnel in theater – Andrej Lopotev, the former leader of the Chernarussian Red Star Movement party and Mikola Bardak, former shadow Justice Secretary, were said to be among the men captured by USMC special forces during the assault on the capital today.
When questioned by AAN on the alleged email leak official sources inside Chernarus initially confirmed the capture. Later, the US Dept. of Defense press office issued a statement denying the men were in custody.
In 1997 Andrej Lopotev formed the ‘Working Man’s Defence Alliance’ pseudo-union along with other employees of the Solnichniy Quarry Corporation. In 1999 he organised and participated in a violent protest over pay and conditions that lead to at least three deaths, unconfirmed injuries (figures vary from 10s to 100s) and a dozen prosecutions. Later he formed the ChDKZ along with several previous members of the Working Man’s Defence Alliance. The party’s main line is that of reintegration with the Russian Federation. The attempted coup last month and failed reunification talks with Moscow have left Lopotev and his followers politically isolated in recent months despite official recognition of their political and military wings by the Kremlin.
Russian forces are continuing to mass on their southern border with Chernarus. So far the unilateral US involvement in the Chernarussian crisis has been described as “rash” and “provocative” by russian officials speaking off the record, and an emergency UN Security Council meeting earlier this week failed to agree on a resolution for action.
Meanwhile, Chernarussian Defence Force units continue to pour into the South Zagoria region from mainland Chernarus to the southwest. NGOs and aid-workers held at the border by CDF controls report large volumes of infantry and materiel moving into the province.
Previously, Chernarussian officials were reluctant to commit more forces to the region for fear of weakening their loose grip on civil order inside Chernarus proper. The assassination of PM Baranov and other cabinet ministers last week and the seemingly unstoppable advance of the ChDKZ in the north east had sparked a wildfire of looting and civil disorder across the country.
As the ChDKZ are forced onto the back foot, Chernarussian confidence is returning. The surge of new CDF troops entering the South Zagoria region is being seen as a positive move toward eventual peace, but the question will now be asked: If Chernarus had the numbers to invade, why was US involvement so necessary?