Former Pro-War Militant Igor Girkin Announces Russian Presidential Bid

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Girkin has been criticized many times for his pro-war ideologies. (Image Credit: NPR)

Igor Girkin, a former pro-war militant known for his role in the annexation of Crimea and his subsequent involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, has declared his intention to run for the Russian presidency. Girkin, who is currently in custody awaiting trial for inciting extremism, expressed his desire to disrupt what he called a “sham” election, where the winner is already perceived to be clear, presumably referring to President Vladimir Putin. 

Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov, was convicted in absentia by a Dutch court for his involvement in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in 2014. Despite his past military exploits, Girkin currently finds himself in jail, awaiting trial for charges of extremism. He staunchly denies these allegations and, undeterred, has expressed his presidential aspirations despite legal challenges.

Girkin has been a vocal critic of Putin’s military strategy in Ukraine. He compared participating in the presidential campaign to playing with “card sharps,” suggesting a lack of transparency in the electoral process. Although skeptical about being allowed to stand for election, Girkin aims to unite patriotic forces against what he perceives as external and internal threats.

To disrupt what he terms a “sham” election, Girkin has called for the establishment of a campaign headquarters and the collection of signatures, despite potential legal obstacles. Supporters suggest a potential window for his participation in the polls, as his criminal investigation, has been extended until December 18.

While Putin has not officially declared his candidacy, recent constitutional amendments allow him to remain in power until at least 2036 if reelected. The political landscape is marked by anticipation of Putin’s decision regarding another term.

The Russian government has been suppressing nationalist critics advocating for a tougher approach to the war in Ukraine. Mention is made of the failed mutiny by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was subsequently killed in a plane crash in August.

Igor Girkin’s unexpected bid for the Russian presidency adds a new layer of complexity to the political landscape. As a former pro-war militant with a controversial past, Girkin’s candidacy challenges the established order and could potentially disrupt the anticipated reelection of Vladimir Putin. The outcome of Girkin’s legal challenges, the response from Russian authorities, and the impact on the upcoming election will be closely watched both domestically and internationally.

Written by Ava LeFevre

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