Igor Girkin, a jailed former separatist commander, now says that he will run for the March 2024 Russian Presidential Election.
“I consider myself more competent in military affairs than the incumbent president, and certainly more competent than the defence minister,” Girkin said on Thursday, August 31, in a statement announcing his candidacy.
Girkin — better known by his alias Igor Strelkov — was detained on an extremism charge in July for criticising Russia’s leadership.
In a series of posts, the 52-year-old referred to Putin as a “nonentity” and a “cowardly mediocrity,” He was then arrested and now faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Although Girkin supports the Russian campaign in Ukraine, he has a problem with the way Putin and the military leadership have handled the situation.
Girkin maintains that Putin is “too kind”.
After declaring his presidential bid on his Telegram channel, where he is followed by more than 700,000 people, he received more than 13,000 likes.
Once a kremlin-backed rebel
In 2014, Girkin helped Russia annex Crimea, a peninsula that is internationally recognised to be Ukrainian territory.
In the same year, ‘Igor The Terrible’ was the leader of Kremlin-backed rebels fighting against Kyiv’s troops for the Donetsk People’s Republic, an unrecognised breakaway region in eastern Ukraine.
Girkin is among three men sentenced to life in prison in absentia for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.
Apparently, Girkin and his troops mistook MH17 for a Ukrainian military plane, using the surface-to-air missile to bring down the passenger jet, killing all 298 people on board.