He’s at it again. The Russian rebel leader and former military intelligence officer Igor Girkin (nom de guerre ‘Strelkov’) is doing the talk show circuit, and in the below video he is in heated debate. His opponent angrily asserts that the movement in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea for unification with the Russian Federation in February 2014 was real “people power,” whereby the local population won the local authorities to its side, and the ensuing declaration of independence fulfilled the “will of the people.” Not so, says Strelkov, who boasts that he was in Crimea from February 21st, and was one of the leaders of the pro-Russian militias at the time, whereas the other guest was only there from mid-March.
Strelkov paints a picture of local security forces “herding” local deputies (members of parliament, or MPs) into the chamber of the local legislature, under orders from the regime in Kyiv (at that time, still headed by Viktor Yanukovych). The local state and government leaders had nothing to do with it, he says. Only the Ukrainian special police – the dreaded “Berkut” – sided with “the people.”
When the other guest asks Strelkov why – in that case – he didn’t effect exactly the same outcome in Donetsk and Luhansk, Strelkov responds that, had there been as many Russian military personnel in those places as there were in Crimea, he and his cohorts could have pulled off exactly the same scenario (as well as in Odessa, Kherson, etc.). The text of the article in the online Ukrainska Pravda newspaper about the debate reads as follows…
24 January 2015 ~
Igor Strelkov (or Girkin), the former leader of the insurgents of the DNR [‘Donetsk People’s Republic’] who fled to Russia, has told how the members of parliament in Crimea “were driven” into the Council of Crimea [Crimean parliament] to vote in favor of “joining the Russian Federation.”
Girkin said this on a television program.
He says he was in Crimea from February 21st (2014) onwards. According to him, the police did not obey the leadership of the then-self-proclaimed autonomy led by [Prime Minister Sergei] Aksyonov and [Speaker of Parliament Vladimir] Konstantinov, but acted “at the direction of Kyiv, although they carried out their orders reluctantly,” in slipshod fashion, and did not “go over to the side of the population.”
“It was not the ‘authorities’ who went over to the side of the population, but only ‘Berkut,’” says Girkin. [Berkut – ‘Golden Eagle’ – was the special Ukrainian police force that first cracked down on pro-EU demonstrators in central Kyiv in November 2013, and were disbanded and abolished following the Maidan Revolution in February 2014. – Ed.]
“I did not see any support from the organs of state power in Simferopol, where I was. The insurgents gathered the MPs together in order to drive them into the hall, so that they would ratify (the decision on unifying Crimea with the Russian Federation – Ed.). And I was one of the commanders of the insurgents,” says the leader of the militants.