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16 Oct, 2022 19:03

Kiev puts large bounty on top Russian military blogger

Igor Strelkov, a veteran of several armed conflicts, has reportedly volunteered for the frontline
Kiev puts large bounty on top Russian military blogger

Ukraine's military intelligence service (GUR) announced on Sunday a $100,000 bounty for the capture of prominent Russian military blogger Igor Strelkov, who had a brief stint as defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) back in 2014.

“The Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry guarantees a payment of $100,000 for handing Igor Girkin (Strelkov) over” to the Ukrainian military, the intelligence agency said in a Telegram post while calling Strelkov “one of Russia’s most prominent terrorists.” The statement also said that the man “decided to re-join the war” against the Ukrainian state.

Kiev accuses the blogger of committing a series of war crimes and engaging in “terrorist activity.”

Strelkov, 51, whose real name is Igor Girkin, fought in the conflicts in Transnistria and Bosnia in the 1990s as a volunteer, and later in Chechnya while serving in the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s top domestic spy agency. He quit the FSB in 2013 and led a squad of volunteer fighters in support of the DPR a year later. In Donbass, he quickly became one of the most prominent commanders and served as the DPR’s defense minister for three months soon after the region declared its independence from Ukraine in 2014.

Later, Strelkov returned to Russia and emerged as a prolific military blogger and commentator. Ukraine initially put him on a wanted list in 2020. The Dutch authorities also filed charges against him for his alleged role in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Donbass in 2014. He denied the allegations.

Strelkov stopped posting new messages to his accounts earlier last week. His wife, Miroslava Reginskaya, posted a photo on social media on Saturday of her husband in fatigues, promising that Strelkov would “make contact soon.” The blogger himself reposted her message on Sunday, without commenting. Some other Russian military bloggers then claimed Strelkov had joined one of the volunteer battalions in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev. 

The news of his volunteering to fight had prompted a Ukrainian activist and a former leader of the Ukrainian ultranationalist group Right Sector, Sergey Sternenko, to offer a $10,000 bounty for Strelkov’s capture. This private bounty was then quickly raised to $100,000 after several Ukrainian public figures promised to contribute their own money to Sternenko’s initiative.