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Igor Girkin sits inside a glass defendants' cage during a hearing to consider an appeal on his pre-trial detention in Moscow on Aug. 29, 2023. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who was convicted of extremism back in January, will ask to be sent to fight in Ukraine. Girkin, also known by his alias "Strelkov," is an ex-intelligence officer who played a pivotal role in Russia's aggression against Ukraine in 2014.

Girkin was arrested in July 2023 over his Telegram posts, considered by Russian authorities as "extremist." His comments were often critical of Moscow's conduct in the war, calling for more hardline measures.

Following his arrest, Girkin was convicted of inciting extremism online and sentenced to four years in prison by the Moscow City Court.

Russian law currently prohibits individuals convicted of extremism from serving in the military. The former warlord must then successfully appeal his charge to be sent to Ukraine.

According to media reports, Girkin's appeal was accompanied by a letter of consent from one of the Russian military units based in Donbas requesting that Girkin serve as a platoon commander.

In April 2014, Girkin 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 later proclaimed himself the "defense minister" of Russia's proxy forces in Donetsk Oblast in 2014.

In November 2022, a court in The Hague convicted Girkin and his subordinates in absentia for downing a civilian aircraft flying over Ukraine from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in 2014, killing all 298 people on board. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Throughout the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Girkin has often lambasted the Kremlin for mishandling the war effort. Girkin co-founded the Club of Angry Patriots, a hardline nationalist movement pushing for more extreme measures to achieve victory over Ukraine.

Girkin's supporters nominated him to run for a presidential election in 2024, but the procedure was not finalized as the notary did not show up to certify their signatures.

Portrait of the Invader: 2 years of Russian soldiering in Ukraine
In two years of total war, Moscow has tried every trick to keep the death march going. It held a draft, expanded state-sponsored mercenary companies, recruited convicted prisoners, integrated proxies from occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and forcibly conscripted Ukrainians in occupied territor…
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