Russia: Putin’s critic Girkin arrested on charges of inciting extremism

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, one of Vladimir Putin’s most strident commentators, was arrested on Friday on charges of inciting extremist activity and ordered into custody by Russian security forces prosecutors, according to Russian news agencies.

TASS and RIA news agencies said Igor Girkin, whose criticism of the government has so far been tolerated, could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

The former commander of pro-Russian forces in Donetsk, Ukraine, also known as Igor Strelkov, helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014 and then organized pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine.

Igor Girkin, who announced earlier this year that he was entering politics, has been critical of President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over their handling of the invasion of Ukraine.

On the official Telegram account of the ex-commander, his wife Miroslava Reginskaya said that Igor Girkin was arrested from his home by representatives of the Investigative Committee at about 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

“I was not at home. According to the watchman, they immediately grabbed my husband and took him in an unknown direction,” she said.

(Reporting by Kevin Liffey; French editing by Cate Entringer and Dina Kartit; Editing by Zifan Liu)

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