Igor ‘Vsyevolodovitch Girkin, also know as, Igor Ivanovich Strelkov has in recent weeks turned his rhetorical fire on the Kremlin itself, even if he no longer has an army with which to back up his words. Strelkov’s force was pulled out of East Ukraine by the Kremlin in August 2014, reportedly because Russian authorities felt he was too much of a liability. Strelkov was then kept in a Dosteytskesque limbo, prevented from returning to the conflict or featuring in state-controlled media.
Moscow then held Strelkov in a Dostoevsky–esque limbo within Russian borders and prevented him from returning to the conflict or featuring in state-controlled media. Strelkov, who studied history and models himself on the White officers who fought the Bolsheviks during the Russian civil war, has been put on international sanctions lists for his role in the Ukraine war.
Ever since Strelkov was told to leave Ukraine in August 2014, the Kremlin has put him on the “Stop list”; the unofficial list of those it is impermissible to give airtime to on state television, which includes most of the liberal opposition. Nationalism is a powerful political force in Russia, and many wonder if the flames that were fanned in east Ukraine in 2014 will be easy to put out, now that the Kremlin is seeking a diplomatic solution that would still give it a say in Ukrainian affairs.
Others say that a figure like Strelkov, after his brief months in the limelight in 2014, is doomed to remain peripheral from now on, addressing small groups of nationalists in his discussion tours around the country, but unlikely to win broad appeal.
Two years ago, Igor Strelkov was the most notorious personality of the war in east Ukraine. A former Russian security forces officer, with a clipped grey mustache and a penchant for historical re-enactments, Strelkov led the takeover of the town of Slavyansk in April 2014, which presaged the armed conflict across the region.
In Kiev, he was seen as a bloody and ruthless war criminal – a Kremlin agent sent by Moscow to wreak havoc in Ukraine. In Russia, he was portrayed as a valiant military hero, leading the local rebel forces in their fight against Kiev. He could be found striding through the corridors of the Donetsk rebel headquarters, with a Stechkin pistol in a vintage wooden holster at his hip and flanked by heavily armed bodyguards.
Two years later, he cuts a very different figure, during an interview with the Guardian at his small Moscow office. In civilian clothing and slightly chubbier, he spent the encounter stroking his huge Maine Coon cat, Grumpy, which lay on the table in front of him. Strelkov has in recent weeks turned his rhetorical fire on the Kremlin itself, even if he no longer has an army with which to back up his words.
Putin and his circle have recently taken steps which I believe will almost inevitably lead to the collapse of the system, Strelkov said. We don’t know yet how, and we don’t know when, but we are certain it will collapse, and more likely sooner than later.
Read More: The Guardian
Featured Image – Igor Ivanovich Strelkov, YouTube