Former Russian officer Igor Girkin, claimed by the Ukrainian and Dutch authorities for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, was detained this Friday by Russian security forces. Guirkin, alias ‘Strelkov’, was arrested shortly before noon at his home in the Russian capital, as confirmed by his lawyer and his police sources to the RBC newspaper.
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His wife explained on social networks that a criminal case has been filed against Guirkin for extremism, according to article 282 of the penal code. The source specified that the Investigation Committee carried out a search of the home of “Strelkov”, who has been very critical of the conduct of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine from the beginning through a program on social networks.
The ex-official also harshly criticized the head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, and predicted in early June that the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, would lead a military rebellion, which finally occurred on the 24th of that month.
According to preliminary data, the former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer was arrested after being denounced by a member of Wagner, a group with which he also had his ups and downs.
In October 2022, Guirkin went to Donbas to directly participate in the fighting, but returned to Moscow two months later after acknowledging that the attempt “was not successful.”
Guirkin, for whose head kyiv has offered a $100,000 bounty, led an armed uprising in Donbas in 2014 that led to a war between pro-Russian separatist militias and the Ukrainian army. At the time, he acknowledged to EFE that the FSB strictly prohibited him from leaving the country for security reasons.
For his involvement in the downing of MH17 in the Donetsk region, “Strelkov” was sentenced in November by the Dutch Justice to life imprisonment. “Receiving a life sentence from the enemies is like a medal,” he told EFE in the middle of the trial.
The analyst Tatiana Stanovaya recalled that ‘Strelkov’ is “one of the sharpest critics” of the Russian Defense Ministry, Putin and the Russian Defense Minister. “How long have they been waiting for it!”, the expert assured through Twitter. “Strelkov has long since crossed all possible red lines, and the security forces (from the FSB to the military commanders) have long been eager to stop him.”
According to the specialist, “the arrest benefits the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defense” and, according to her analysis, this is one of the consequences of the Prigozhin mutiny” given that “the army has gained more political opportunities to repress its opponents in the public space”, she maintains. “I wouldn’t expect any mass violence, but the most radical can be prosecuted,” she concludes.