Ukrainian separatist leader Igor Girkin sentenced to 4 years in prison for calling Putin a ‘coward’

Ukrainian separatist leader Igor Girkin in the dock in a Moscow court today (AP)

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A Russian court sentenced Igor Girkin, a former military leader of the pro-Russian opposition in Ukraine, to 4 years in prison for calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘coward’.

Igor Girkin, known as Strelkov (the hitman), was the most prominent leader of Russian-backed separatist fighters in the Donetsk region in 2014, when Ukraine’s eastern region rebelled after the ouster of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, according to the AP.

Girkin later returned to Russia and became a nationalist commentator and activist.

He supported Russia’s launching of the war in Ukraine, but harshly criticized the authorities for being incompetent and indecisive in conducting it.

He was arrested in July on extremism charges and has been in prison since then.

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