Who is Igor Girkin? The Russian Army Veteran Took Moral Responsibility in Downing of MH17

  • Igor Girkin, One of The Three Russian Suspects Charged With Killing of 298 Passengers of The Flight MH17 Takes its Responsibility

  • He is Also Called Igor Strelkov meaning 'Igor the Shooter', while also often called 'Igor Groznyy' which means Igor the Terrible.

  • He is a Historian in Education, But Military Officer in Life

The responsibility of downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was taken by Igor Girkin in a recent interview. He is one of the suspects in the shooting down of MH17 in which 298 people were killed. However, he took only "moral responsibility" and did not admit that he downed the passenger flight.

Igor Girkin, who is aged 49, is among the four suspects including three Russians and one from Ukraine, accused by an investigation led by Dutch on the shooting down of MH17 above eastern Ukraine back in July, 2014. This happened at the time of war between pro-Russian separatists and Kyiv. That is during the protests by pro-Russian and anti-government groups, which happened in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, as the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.

However, none of these accused on the charge of murdering the passengers of MH17 are expected to attend their trials in the Netherlands which is suspended until June, reported The Times on Wednesday.

Igor Strelkov/ Igor Girkin
Igor Girkin Wikimedia Commons

Wiretaps, radar images, and social media were used in the investigations to zero in on these suspects. However, Girkin told the outlet that he was morally responsible as much as he was "the commander of the rebels and a participant in the conflict leading to deaths."

Who Is Girkin?

Igor Girkin is a Russian army veteran and a former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer. After graduating from the Moscow State Historical and Archival Institute, he served in the Armed Forces from 1993 to 1994.

From being a historian by education to marksman in the Ministry of Defense (Air), "Everything is logical," as to what he studied and served, according to a Topwar sketch of Girkin. "Strelkov" is his pseudonym which means "Shooter," while he is often called 'Igor Groznyy' which means Igor the Terrible, in a positive sense of his military abilities.

Downing of MH17
Downing of MH17 Roper Center

He is a former 'self-proclaimed' defense minister in the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), also called a terrorist organization. Girkin is believed to be one of the most senior military officers in direct contact with Russia when MH17 was downed. He presently lives in Moscow. He was also charged by Ukrain with terrorism and has been sanctioned by the EU for his main role in the armed conflict in the eastern Ukraine region.

First Such Interview

His statement to The Times was followed by public outrage in Ukraine. Such an interview never happened with Poklonskaya or Girkin before, that too regarding treason and crimes committed that involves them, said Dmitry Gordon who interviewed Girkin along with the former Crimean prosecutor and a Russian lawmaker Natalia Poklonskaya with the help of Ukraine's special services.

When he was asked if his statement could be interpreted as admitting the Russian military's guilt, Girkin said "people can interpret this as they like" and did not comment further.