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Russia. Igor Strelkov Girkin, former leader of Donbas “separatists”, sentenced to four years in prison

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The former leader of Donbas “separatists” Igor Strelkov (Girkin), wanted for war crimes in Ukraine, was sentenced on Thursday by a court in Moscow to four years in prison on charges of “incitement to extremism”, reported the independent Russian portals Mediazona and Meduza. Last November, from detention, he wanted to run in this year’s presidential elections in Russia.

Igor Strełkov (Girkin) was also banned from administering websites for three years.

Girkin is wanted by the Ukrainian justice system for crimes committed in Ukraine. In 2022, he was sentenced in absentia by a Dutch court to life imprisonment for shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. 298 people died then. The man is wanted on an international arrest warrant and is subject to sanctions.

Former leader of Donbas “separatists” sentenced to four years in prisonPAP/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

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In July last year, Girkin was detained by the Russian services and his apartment was searched. An investigation was then initiated against him in connection with comments on the Telegram social network regarding the situation in the occupied area Russia Crimea and salaries for soldiers from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, controlled by the Kremlin.

Igor Girkin – who is he?

Girkin is a former officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB). After Russia started the war in Ukraine Donbass in 2014, he commanded the so-called pro-Russian forces there “separatists”. He also served in the structures of puppet republics.


In recent years, Girkin was the so-called military blogger, known for his enthusiastic support for the war with Ukraine, as well as his sharp criticism of the Ministry of Defense, the Kremlin and personally Vladimir Putin, whom he accused of mistakes and incompetence. According to expert estimates, Girkin enjoys support in pro-war ultranationalist circles in Russia.

In November 2023 Girkin announced that he will run for president in 2024. A video was published in a post on the SOTY news channel on Telegram in which Oleg Nielzin, identified as co-chair of the Russian Movement for Strelkov, read Girkin’s letter during a press conference. The channel said he instructed supporters to form a staff and start collecting signatures for his candidacy.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

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