A local field commander, Alexander Zakharchenko became the "prime minister" of the self-styled "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) in early August 2014 after his predecessor, Russian citizen Alexander Borodai, announced he was stepping down. Alexander Zakharchenko was born in Donetsk in 1976 and after graduating from technical school worked as a mine electrician. Russian media say that later he was a student at the law institute of Ukraine's interior ministry and also tried his hand at being a businessman.
His business has been mainly related to trade of prefabricated chicken. Alexander has a warehouse and a couple of small retail points in Donetsk. Perhaps if Alexander have not got in touch with Ukrainian paramilitary movement "Oplot" he would probably continue to deal in chicken. But in December 2013 he found himself among gangsters called "titushki", that were used by the Party of Regions as a military wing of Anti-Maidan movement. In general the organization was active in helping the former Ukrainian government clamp down on the pro-democracy Maidan protests in Kiev at the beginning of the year.
Alexander became a Leader of "Oplot" in Donetsk.
On April 16, 2014, a group of protesters decided to storm the Donetsk state administration building. Alexander was among those who participated in that. Having seized the town hall Alexander Zakharchenko makes the first official statement in his life: "We have come here with the requirement of a local referendum".
In May 2014 he was appointed military commander of Donetsk. Subsequently, Alexander was appointed Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the DNR but he remained the commander of his Donetsk division of "Oplot" until 7 July 2014. In August 7, 2014, following the resignation Alexander Borodai from the position of Prime Minister of self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, took his post. In November 2014 he won so-called elections of the Head of DNR with as it was claimed 75% of votes in his favour. None of the countries declared the elections valid.
Alexander was a person who signed the Second Minsk Agreement on behalf of DNR.