July 26, 2023

Repression Targets Pro-War "Patriots"


Repression Targets Pro-War "Patriots"
Igor Strelkov on personality identification playing cards.
Pryshutova Viktoria, Wikimedia Commons

On July 22, Igor Strelkov, former defense minister of the Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, was arrested in Moscow.

Strelkov, who has been critical of Russian leaders for their perceived lack of commitment to a full-scale war in Ukraine, was charged with inciting extremist activities, which could result in up to five years in prison.

The FSB opened the case against Strelkov on July 18, reviewing posts on his Telegram channel dating back to May 25. In those posts, Strelkov reported that soldiers mobilized from the 105th and 107th regiments of the Russian army were not receiving proper payments and said that those responsible for the situation should be executed.

On the same day the case was initiated, Strelkov wrote a post about Russian president Vladimir Putin, calling him a "nonentity" and a "cowardly incompetent." He expressed doubt that the country would survive another six years under his rule.

"Igor Strelkov" is actually an alias for Igor Girkin. In the past, Girkin worked for the far-right newspaper Zavtra ("Tomorrow") and later joined Russian-backed separatists in Transnistria, Moldova, and Serbia. The pro-war activist is accused of partaking in the Višegrad massacre, in which thousands of Bosnian civilians were killed and raped.

Until 2013, Strelkov served in the FSB, fighting in the North Caucasus as part of FSB special forces units and rising to the rank of colonel. In 2014, he participated in the annexation of Crimea and the fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

Strelkov has said that he and his people were the trigger for the war in Donbas. A Dutch court convicted him in absentia for shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in 2014. Afterward, he was dismissed as defense minister of the Russia-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Strelkov attempted to return to the front lines but ultimately focused on media and political activities. He gained popularity through his Telegram channel, which has 860,000 subscribers, where he criticizes the war from ultra-right and pro-military perspectives. 

In 2023, Strelkov, alongside the former self-proclaimed "People's Governor" of the Donetsk Region, established the "Club of Angry Patriots," a small organization with branches in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This group claimed that Russia was heading toward crisis and turmoil, and it criticized authorities for their "inadequate" efforts in the war with Ukraine. During a conference organized by the Club, Strelkov called on Vladimir Putin to step down from his position as President.

These outspoken statements seem to have drawn attention from authorities. In June, the St. Petersburg police evacuated the ultra-right Listva ("Leaf") Library on the day when Igor Strelkov was scheduled to speak. Additionally, on July 18, an indictment was drawn up against Vladimir Kvachkov, a former military police colonel and Strelkov’s associate in the Club of Angry Patriots, accusing him of discrediting the Russian army.

The article of the Russian Criminal Code under which Strelkov was arrested has been used previously to target anti-war Russian activists.

You Might Also Like

What's in a Name? Stalin.
  • July 23, 2023

What's in a Name? Stalin.

Every September 3, and on nine other days of the year, the city of Volgograd will change its name back to Stalingrad.
Scared and Suspicious
  • July 04, 2023

Scared and Suspicious

Nearly half of Russians distrust official information regarding the war in Ukraine.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Chekhov Bilingual

Chekhov Bilingual

Some of Chekhov's most beloved stories, with English and accented Russian on facing pages throughout. 
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
Turgenev Bilingual

Turgenev Bilingual

A sampling of Ivan Turgenev's masterful short stories, plays, novellas and novels. Bilingual, with English and accented Russian texts running side by side on adjoining pages.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955