Probably few people have ever engendered as much resentment among Ukrainians as the Russian insurgent Igor Girkin (nom de guerre ‘Strelkov’), who – early in 2014 – became the poster boy for the separatists in the war in Ukraine. Girkin has fought in several conflicts in areas beset by separatism, not just in the former Soviet Union (Moldova, Chechnya), but also in Bosnia on the side of the Bosnian Serb Republic, when he would have been in his early twenties. The Russian human rights organization ‘Memorial’ alleges that Girkin was involved in atrocities in a village in Chechnya during the second Russo-Chechen War. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) believes he summarily executed prisoners in Ukraine in 2014.
Girkin claims he is a retired functionary of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and there is credible evidence to support this. But the EU and Ukrainian government have identified Girkin as a retired colonel of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the intelligence agency of the Russian military. Whatever the truth, Girkin is a Russian citizen from Moscow who came to Ukraine to take part in military campaigns in furtherance of Putin’s imperial “Novorossiya” (New Russia) project, to carve away large swathes of Ukraine by force and attach them to the Russian Federation. Girkin started his Ukrainian adventure in Crimea, the annexation of which is regarded by many cheerleaders of Russo-Soviet revanchism as a success for the speed and bloodlessness with which it occurred. He then moved on to the Donbas to continue his violent activities.
Very likely, Girkin is primarily an eccentric wannabe – a Russian war re-enactment enthusiast who saw a chance to become involved in yet more lethal hostilities in Ukraine, and to pursue his strange and violent dream of Russian imperial glory. Russian ex-First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov describes Girkin as a “complete marginal” and a “freak.” In fact, when examined in light of his professed ideology, Girkin is rather a sad figure. While he has claimed to be a “monarchist,” and his role model is a White Guard (tsarist) general killed by the Red Army in the Russian Civil War, he views the collapse of the Soviet Union as a tragedy and apparently cited a Soviet law from 1941 as the basis carrying out summary executions in eastern Ukraine in the current war. His ideology is a mishmash of
Russian nationalism, imperialism, monarchism, Russian Orthodoxy, anti-Semitism and Soviet nostalgia. Russia, he believes, is the only country that can save Christianity from liberals and Jews. That he has become an embarrassment to the regime of Vladimir Putin seems obvious, as he now wanders around giving interviews and making statements to the press about how the Russian government is abandoning its fighting volunteers and patriots in Ukraine. He does at least verbally seem to recognize Putin as the “commander in chief” of the Russian armed forces, but having apparently left the “Novorossiya” front indefinitely, he now finds himself something of a rebel without a cause.
In his latest embarrassment for the Kremlin, Girkin tempts fate by calling upon Russia to openly recognize that it is engaged in war in Ukraine – in other words, to admit reality – something the Kremlin has thus far refused to do. Girkin views the war in Ukraine as a “civil war,” in the sense that he does not recognize Ukraine as an independent country, and fighting cannot therefore be taking place between two different countries. Ukraine was part of “one great country” (i.e. the Soviet Union), and all war is now happening “within Russia.”
Following is an article about Strelkov’s latest public statements from today’s Ukrainian press…
9 January 2015
The former head of the Donetsk rebels has urged Russia “not to bury its head in the sand.”
Former Donetsk rebel leader Igor Strelkov (Girkin) told the separatist TV channel ANNANews that Russia is at war with Ukraine.
“We are already at war. We can go bury our heads in the sand, but the country from which volunteers were sent – and volunteers still go to fight, and there is a place where they can fight, where they are given weapons, where they receive ammunition – this is a belligerent country,” said Girkin.
He added that “we are fighting very strangely: we supply the enemy with coal and electricity.”
“But it was exactly the same for us in Bosnia,” said Strelkov.
The former rebel leader said he considers the war to be “civil,” such that it does not separate Ukraine from Russia. “It is my deep understanding that Ukraine was part of a large, great country, and so it has remained, and so the war in Ukraine is really a war in Russia,” said Girkin-Strelkov.
In this case, the presenter noted: “Well, they consider themselves [to be an independent country – Ed.].” However, he said that in Ukraine, when he had been there before the war, “it was good, satisfying, comfortable, home-like.”
Look at the video, as Strelkov refers to the war between Russia and Ukraine:
Source video SobiNewsCom
Igor Girkin, calling himself Strelkov, declared that he is a retired colonel of the Russian FSB. Mass media reported that, at the time of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, he was an active Spetsnaz [special operations – Ed.] officer of the GRU General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
After Strelkov participated in the conflict around Crimea in early 2014, he came to eastern Ukraine and headed the so-called “militia” of Slovyansk. In early July, after a fierce battle for the city, Strelkov moved to Donetsk along with his garrison.
After that, for several months he occupied the post of “Minister of Defense” of the separatist DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic]. In early August, Strelkov was dismissed and left Ukraine.
Earlier, former DNR “Commander in Chief” Igor Strelkov admitted that after the liberation of Slovyansk, so-called “vacationers” (i.e. professional Russian military) helped to hold Donetsk. Also, he said, “vacationers” led the offensive in the direction of Mariupol.