Former Donbas separatist leader given 4-year prison sentence for inciting extremism

The former Donbas separatist leader Igor Strelkov, also known as Girkin, was sentenced to four years in jail on Thursday after a Moscow court found him guilty of inciting extremism, Mediazona reported.

Strelkov came to prominence when he declared the “Donetsk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine in 2014, after which he commanded militias fighting 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 of the country’s military reserve.

Girkin during his sentencing. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Girkin during his sentencing. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Strelkov was tried for disclosing 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. He pleaded guilty on all charges.

While in pre-trial detention, Strelkov announced he would run in Russia’s presidential election in March, saying that he was more competent in military affairs than current Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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.

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