Igor Strelkov at a court hearing in Moscow, 17 October 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV
Prosecutors have requested a sentence of nearly 5 years in a penal colony for former Donbas separatist leader Igor Strelkov, also known as Girkin, Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.
In 2014, Strelkov declared the creation of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine and commanded militias in the breakaway region until August that year. However, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he has been critical of Russia’s leadership and has called for further mobilisation.
Strelkov was arrested in July, reportedly following a denunciation by a former Wagner Group mercenary. He is being tried for the disclosure of state secrets and inciting extremism after he posted two messages on his Telegram channel in May in which he discussed Russian military preparations for the surrender of annexed Crimea, as well as missing payments due to the families of mobilised soldiers.
Despite requesting house arrest due to his pre-existing medical conditions, Strelkov is being held in pre-trial detention having been deemed a flight risk.
Strelkov, along with two other Russia-affiliated combatants, was found guilty in absentia by a court in The Hague in 2022 for shooting down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014.