The name of Igor Girkin (nom de guerre ‘Strelkov’) has remained in the news despite his having left the theater of war in eastern Ukraine many months ago. Girkin, a Russian national from Moscow who holds no Ukrainian citizenship, led the insurgency in its early days as ‘minister of defense’ of the Donetsk People’s Republic, until he was apparently recalled to Russia. He has since appeared often in Russian media, usually to complain about the way the war is being conducted, and how the Kremlin is beytraying the neo-imperial ‘Novorossiya’ project. Here, he points the blame at a key figure from Putin’s inner circle, and says that chaos and banditry are rife in the Donbas thanks to the breakdown of military authority.
While Girkin is by all appearances a violent extremist with revanchist ambitions, his incentive for remaining in the limelight is surely – at least in large part – to avoid being assassinated. As someone who was a serving Russian military intelligence officer at the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war, he may very well feel betrayed by the authorities in the Kremlin. It is unclear the extent to which his initial war activities were part of a coordinated, official, Russian government policy, but from the way Girkin speaks, it sounds as if he was encouraged to lead a rebellion, only to find the “wind at his back” when the hostilities escalated. As such, his public statements are not to be ignored for the logic inherent in them.
24 February 2015
The former leader of the rebels of the “DNR” [‘Donetsk People’s Republic], Igor Girkin (nicknamed ‘Strelkov’), believes that Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is responsible for the war in the Donbas.
He said this in an interview with the Serbian weekly Pechat, writes Ostrov.
“Surkov is certainly the moderator of the situation that we have at the moment. And we have an ongoing war, which is gradually turning the Donbas into a scorched desert. This, of course, is his fault because it was he who led the negotiating process,” said Girkin, adding, “Surkov is deliberately sabotaging the orders of the President of Russia and deliberately putting ‘Novorossiya’ under attack.”
In addition, according to the ex-leader, anarchy and banditry now thrive in the Donbas, and these can only defeated by a military dictatorship.
“… masses of weapons, lots of armed men, a ton of outstanding personalities among the commanders, and a complete lack of authority with sufficient powers. To restore order in Novorossiya, martial law is essential, and dictatorship is essential. Instead, they have introduced a kind of ‘military democracy,’ which translates into banditry,” said Girkin.
He also said that in the Donbas now, “anarchy and Makhnovism – this is a fact… Every war requires a dictatorship. And we are trying to fight a war without going on a war footing. Moreover, it creates the conditions in which it is impossible to introduce any martial law at all. Accordingly, we get a comprehensive Makhnovshchina.” [‘Makhnovshchina’ refers to the reign of terror of bands of marauders led by the peasant anarchist Nestor Makhno in Ukraine during the period of pre-Soviet independence – Ed.]
Separately, the former “DNR-ite” once again confirmed that Russia is directly involved in the war in the Donbas, and that the Russian Federation has removed him from his post.
“I cannot say that I left voluntarily. They threatened me with a cut-off of supplies from Russia, and without supplies, war is impossible,” admitted Strelkov. Recall that an earlier edition of the scandalous Kiselev selected “very interesting fragments” of an interview with the militant Girkin. [Dmitry Kiselev is a Russian television presenter who has made several outrageous comments, including boasting that Russia could turn America into ‘radioactive ash’ – Ed.]