Cyprus Mail

Jailed Russian nationalist Girkin warns of ‘sham’ presidential election

arrested pro war kremlin critic girkin charged with incitement to extremism
Russian nationalist Kremlin critic and former military commander Igor Girkin, who is charged with inciting extremist activity, sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants before a court hearing in Moscow

Pro-war Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who is in custody awaiting trial for inciting extremism, said on Sunday he wanted to run for president even though he understood the March election would be “sham” with the winner already clear.

Girkin, who is also known by the alias Igor Strelkov, has repeatedly said Russia faces revolution and even civil war unless President Vladimir Putin’s military top brass fight the war in Ukraine more effectively.

A former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who helped Russia to annex Crimea in 2014 and then to organise pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, Girkin said before his arrest that he and his supporters were entering politics.

“I understand perfectly well that in the current situation in Russia, participating in the presidential campaign is like sitting down at a table to play with card sharps,” Girkin said in a letter published by his account on Telegram.

Girkin said that he did not think that he would be allowed to take part in the election, but hoped that his attempt to unite patriotic forces would disrupt the Kremlin’s plan for a “sham election” in which “the only winner is known in advance”.

“This is our chance to unite in the face of external and internal threats,” Girkin said in the letter post entitled “I am going to run.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview published on Friday that he hoped Putin would run in the March election for another term as president, a move that would keep Putin in power until at least 2030.

Opposition politicians say Putin has built a dictatorial system since he first came to power in 1999 that mimics the institutions of democracy while preventing any true political competition or real dissent.

Supporters of Putin laud him for bringing order after the chaos that accompanied the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. They point to polls that show he has the backing of around 80% of the Russian populace.


Russia has cracked down on nationalist critics, who have called for a much tougher approach to fighting the war, including martial law and a country-wide mobilisation, after the failed June mutiny by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin was killed in August in a plane crash, the causes of which are unclear. Girkin, who has also served in Chechnya and Moldova, was arrested in July.

Girkin, a monarchist who wrote a dissertation on the “White Russians” who fought the “Red” Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution, is one of the most prominent nationalists who has criticised Russia’s execution of the war, which he casts as part of an existential battle with an arrogant West.

He has called the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union “positive” but says the post-Soviet Russian elite was corrupt and working for the West to weaken Russia.

Girkin said in May that despite his criticism of Putin’s failings, “Putin is currently the only legitimate figure in the Russian Federation”.

He said in August that he would make a better president than Putin, describing the Kremlin chief as “too kind” and “too trusting” of Russia’s security and military chiefs.

Girkin was convicted last year in absentia by a Dutch court of murder for his role in the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of 298 passengers and crew. He has denied he was involved.

Follow the Cyprus Mail on Google News

Related Posts

COP28 clashes over fossil fuel phase-out after OPEC pushback

Reuters News Service

US lawmakers demand Harvard, MIT, Penn remove presidents after antisemitism hearing

Reuters News Service

Russians, Belarusians to participate at Paris Olympics as neutrals

Reuters News Service

Prince Harry loses bid to have publisher’s libel defence thrown out

Reuters News Service

Ukraine says ICC arrest warrant for Putin helped return deported kids

Reuters News Service

US vetoes Security Council ceasefire demand as Gaza war intensifies

Reuters News Service