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Court arrests Russian FSB officer who launched war in Donbas in 2014

by The Kyiv Independent news desk July 21, 2023 9:41 PM 2 min read
Igor "Strelkov" Girkin, a Russian war criminal and a former commander of Russian proxy forces in occupied Donetsk Oblast, photographed in a Moscow court following his arrest on July 21. (Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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A Moscow court on July 21 sanctioned the arrest of Igor Girkin, a Russian war criminal and former commander of Russian proxy forces in Ukraine.

The move follows Girkin's harsh criticism of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for not doing enough to win the war against Ukraine.

The court ordered Girkin to be kept at a pre-trial detention facility until Sept. 18. He has been charged with calling for extremist activity on the Internet.

Girkin was detained earlier in the day.

Pavel Gubarev, a Girkin ally and former Russian proxy in Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast, was detained near the court as he called on Girkin’s release, Russian independent media outlet Mediazona reported. He was later released.

Gubarev proclaimed himself the "people’s governor" of the Russian-controlled part of Donetsk Oblast in 2014.

Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, is a former officer of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

In April 2014 he organized the seizure of the town of Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, initiating Russia's war in the Donbas. Girkin admitted later in an interview that he had "pulled the trigger" of Russia's war.

He proclaimed himself the "defense minister" of Russia's proxy forces in Donetsk Oblast in 2014.

Girkin has also been found guilty by a Hague court of participating in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which killed 298 people in 2014.

During the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he has often lambasted the Kremlin for mishandling the war effort. He intensified his criticism of Putin over the past weeks.

Girkin co-founded the Club of Angry Patriots, a hardline nationalist movement pushing for more extreme measures to achieve victory over Ukraine. Gubarev is among its members as well.

MH17 verdict: Girkin, Dubinsky, Kharchenko guilty, sentenced to life imprisonment
The fourth suspect was acquitted.
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