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Prominent Russian nationalist Guirkin to remain in pretrial detention

The prominent Russian nationalist Igor Guirkin could not appeal his preventive detention on Tuesday, accused of inciting extremism, a Moscow court reported. Girkin, also known as Strelkov, has been a strong critic of Russia's conduct of the war in Ukraine.

His case is being closely watched as an indication of how far the Kremlin will tolerate aggressive criticism of its war effort in Ukraine, where Russia has failed to make progress for months after being forced to withdraw from large areas it seized in the first few months. of the conflict.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner's mercenaries who had been in an ongoing dispute with the Defense Minister and top military commanders, was killed in an unexplained air disaster on August 23. The Kremlin has dismissed as an "absolute lie" Western suggestions that Putin ordered his death.

Guirkin's lawyer, Alexander Molokhov, told Reuters last month that the case against him was based on something Guirkin had written on the Telegram messaging app on May 25. Girkin complained that the authorities in Ukraine's Donetsk region, controlled mostly by Russia, had not paid aid to the families of men who had been called up to fight against Ukraine for three months.

Guirkin published that "to shoot someone for something like that would be too little." The lawyer told Reuters that he admitted to having written the postbut that he did not agree that it constituted extremism or incitement. The 52-year-old defendant faces up to five years in prison if convicted. The court, in rejecting his appeal, upheld an earlier decision to keep him in pretrial detention until 18 September.

Guirkin is a former Russian FSB security service officer who organized pro-Russian militias to fight Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine in 2014. He was convicted in absentia by a Dutch court for his role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July of that year, where 298 people died. He has denied involvement with him. Guirkin told Reuters in May that a major crisis was brewing in Russia, so he was creating a new political group. "We are on the cusp of very serious internal political changes of a catastrophic nature," he said. (Reuters)

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