NewsEx-separatist leader Strelkov sentenced to prison in Russia for online extremism

Ex‑separatist leader Strelkov sentenced to prison in Russia for online extremism

The former first Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People's Republic, Igor Striełkow (Girkin), in the Moscow City Court in Moscow.
The former first Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People's Republic, Igor Striełkow (Girkin), in the Moscow City Court in Moscow.
Images source: © PAP | MAXIM SHIPENKOV
12:13 PM EST, January 25, 2024

Girkin, or Strelkov, was apprehended by Russian services in July 2023 due to allegations made against him within the country. His charges involved the "public incitement of extremism over the internet". Beyond Russia itself, Strelkov's acts have attracted criticism, as even he admitted on the Baza Telegram channel that there is no place in the world that would identify him as a model citizen.

Conviction for inciting extremism

Strelkov first came to the world's attention amid the turmoil in Ukraine. In 2014, he commanded one of the units in Donbas during an armed rebellion against the Ukrainian government, serving as the Defense Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic for about three months. Moreover, he was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment by a court in The Hague in November 2022, in relation to the downing of a Malaysian Boeing 777 in the Donetsk region during the summer of 2014. Strelkov was deemed one of the culprits of this incident.

The basis for the "incitement to extremism" charge, as acknowledged by Moscow, were Strelkov's expressions of discontent shared on Telegram. The ex-separatist leader criticised both the conditions in the occupied Crimea and the salaries of Russian soldiers from the so-called Donetsk People's Republic.

News of the sentencing quickly prompted a flurry of comments online, with many focusing on the irony of a former Donbas separatist who sided with Russia now being sentenced by a Moscow court. One of the commentaries on social media went, 'the revolution is devouring its own children, a 21st-century rendition'.

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