NewsPutin's election adversary and former FSB agent, Igor 'Strelkov' Girkin, is on trial in Moscow for extremist activities

Putin's election adversary and former FSB agent, Igor 'Strelkov' Girkin, is on trial in Moscow for extremist activities

Igor Girkin "Strelkov" is still in custody, his trial has just started.
Igor Girkin "Strelkov" is still in custody, his trial has just started.
Images source: © Telegram

12:06 PM EST, December 15, 2023

Igor Girkin, also known as "Strelkov", was crucial in destabilizing eastern Ukraine in 2014. Crimea might not have seceded from Ukraine without his influence, and portions of Donbas probably wouldn't have been seized. A decade later, "Strelkov" is considered an enemy of the Kremlin and is awaiting his trial verdict.

The trial of this former hero turned critic and enemy of Vladimir Putin has recently commenced in Moscow. Igor Girkin was arrested in July, shortly after the unsuccessful coup staged by Yevgeny Prigozhin. He has since been waiting for his indictment to be announced in court, which he instantly rejected when presented.

Facing a potential five-year imprisonment, many believe Girkin will certainly serve his time behind bars.

Vladimir Putin started cracking down on his adversaries last summer after the failed march of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group on Moscow in June. Igor Girkin was arrested in early July. Two months post the Prigozhin coup, he perished in a plane crash near Tver. Girkin fears that a similar fate might await him.

"Strelkov" denied the allegations made in the indictment and testified. The next trial hearing awaits him on December 20.

My client entirely disputes the arguments presented in the indictment and has pleaded not guilty - stated his defense.

The authorities are seeking to convict Igor Girkin for "inciting extremist activity" under laws enacted after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. The prosecutor argues that Girkin's posts on Telegram and interviews damaged the country while inadvertently critiquing the army and the "special military operation." The ex-officer demanded changes in the army command, revealed low soldier wages, and criticized the effectiveness of the Generals' decisions.

In his remarks, Girkin believes those negligent in the army and responsible for poor war management should face the firing squad. Since the invasion, he has consistently critiqued the war's progress, demanded changes, and asked for "the liquidation of Ukraine" as a country. His radical views made the likes of Vladimir Putin, Sergei Shoigu, and Yevgeny Prigozhin his adversaries.

Interestingly, without Girkin's influence, the Ukraine invasion might not have taken place at all. However, once the war broke out, his professional insights cannot be ignored. His growing popularity within Russia ahead of the March elections has caused concern for Vladimir Putin, likely slowing down Girkin's release from prison.

Perhaps President Putin felt slighted when Girkin referred to him as an "old man".

Who is Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov, the accused terrorist?

The former FSB agent and intelligence officer is deemed a terrorist by the West, a label that seems justified.

Girkin commanded the pro-Russian separatist forces in Donbas during the summer of 2014, coinciding with the tragic downing of the Malaysia Airlines airplane. On July 17, 2014, near the Hrabove village in the Donetsk region, Russians allegedly fired at MH17 with the 9K37 BUK system, causing the plane crash that killed 298 people, most of whom were Dutch citizens.

He has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Netherlands for this terrorist attack. Ukraine has also gathered enough evidence to suggest that he tortured and killed soldiers captured by Russians, leading to potential death penalty charges. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague as well. Despite being a highly sought-after commentator on the Ukraine invasion and frequently appearing in the media as an expert, Girkin's problems escalated when he publicly began criticizing Vladimir Putin.

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