The arrest of former separatist commander in Ukraine and nationalist military blogger Igor Girkin, a critic of the Russian leadership, is no coincidence. The man appeared before a Moscow court. Also known as Igor Strelkov, he helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014 and subsequently organized pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine. Earlier this year he said he wanted to get into politics, although he was increasingly critical of President Vladimir Putin. In particular, since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, Igor Girkin has regularly published critical messages about the Russian General Staff on his Telegram account, which has more than 875,000 followers. According to preliminary information, the man is accused of extremism. A case of dissent that seems to be a signal for many other Russian “hawks”. This was stated by the American think tank Institute for the Study of War in a report on Twitter.
Also read: War in Ukraine, British intelligence chief warns: ‘Putin should not be humiliated’
The arrest of “ardent ultranationalist Igor Girkin on July 21 could be the public expression of a shift in the balance of power between factions” in Russia, ISW analysts say. The detention “follows other criminal charges against ultranationalists with previous ties to the Russian security services,” according to the FSB, “and indicates that unknown Russian officials may be targeting prominent ultranationalists who regularly leak inside information about the Kremlin.” Girkin-Strelkov had served in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which was still able to defend him. But Putim’s signal is now clear, at least according to Isw.