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Ex-Donbas separatist leader Igor Girkin sentenced to four-year prison term on extremism charges

Earlier today, a court in Moscow sentenced Igor Strelkov (Girkin), a Russian pro-war blogger and the former “Defense Minister” of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic,” to four years in prison after finding him guilty of inciting extremism. Girkin was also banned from administering websites for three years after his release, Mediazona reports.

Asked by the judge if he understood the sentence, Girkin replied: “I serve the Fatherland!” Prior to sentencing, a state prosecutor requested that Strelkov be sentenced to 4 years and 11 months in prison.

Girkin was arrested last July and the case against him was classified. Girkin claimed that he was being persecuted for his social media posts about the “Crimean problem” and the fact that Russian soldiers were not receiving their salaries from the state. Girkin also regularly commented on the course of the war in Ukraine, criticizing the actions of the Russian military leadership and even blaming Vladimir Putin for the failure of the “special military operation.” After being remanded to a pre-trial detention facility, Strelkov expressed his intention to run for president.

In November 2022, The Hague District Court found Girkin, along with two other men, guilty of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was shot down by Russian-controlled forces over Ukraine’s Donetsk Region in 2014, resulting in the deaths of all 298 people on board. The court sentenced Girkin to life imprisonment in absentia.

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