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UK Defense Ministry: Girkin's arrest likely to 'infuriate' elements within pro-war Russian factions

by The Kyiv Independent news desk July 22, 2023 3:22 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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Russian war criminal Igor Girkin's arrest is likely to "infuriate" members of Russia's military blogger community and elements within Russia's military, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote in its July 22 intelligence update.

This is due to the fact that they "largely see Girkin as an astute military analyst and patriot," the U.K. Defense Ministry explained.

Girkin was arrested in Russia on July 21. The court ordered that he be kept at a pre-trial detention facility until Sept. 18. He has been charged with inciting "extremist activity."

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

In April 2014, Girkin orchestrated the capture of Sloviansk, a city located in Donetsk Oblast, which precipitated Russia's war in the Donbas region. Girkin later declared in an interview that he played a pivotal role in "pulling the trigger" on Russia's war against Ukraine.

He also spent time on the front line in 2022, the U.K. Defense Ministry noted.

Girkin was found guilty by the Hague court after they tried him and two others in absentia for their roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in 2014, which killed all 298 people on board.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he has often criticized the Kremlin for mishandling the war in Ukraine and not "doing enough." His criticism of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in particular has recently intensified.

The U.K. Defense Ministry wrote that this growing criticism was likely prompted by Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin's armed rebellion, in late June.

While Girkin is "no ally of the Wagner Group," it is likely that he wanted to "push the limits of public criticism" following the Wagner rebellion, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote.

"The taboo against unmasked criticism of the Putin regime has been significantly weakened," the U.K. Defense Ministry added.

Russia after Wagner revolt: Will Putin stay afloat or face more turmoil?
The rebellion organized by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group in June is seen by many analysts as a sign of weakness and fragility of Vladimir Putin’s regime. First, several thousand armed mercenaries managed to march for hundreds of kilometers from Rostov to the vicinity of Moscow, and no one
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