Imprisoned Russian ultranationalist claims Putin’s regime is near ‘collapse’ due to failures in Ukraine and can’t be saved

Igor Girkin, a prominent pro-war blogger, was arrested in July on charges of extremism.

Photo by ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A prominent Russian pro-war blogger doubled down on his criticism of Putin from prison this week.Igor Girkin, a former FSB operative, said he believes Russia is on the eve of collapse.Girkin believes Putin and his defense officials haven’t gone far enough in Ukraine. 

A prominent Russian pro-war blogger is predicting the downfall of Russia from his prison cell just two months after he was arrested for criticizing President Vladimir Putin as a “cowardly mediocrity.”

Igor Girkin, a former FSB security operative who goes by the nom de guerre Stelkov, which is Russian for shooter, dictated a doomsday-esque diatribe to his Telegram via his attorney this week, warning that Russia is on the brink of collapse and offering himself up as a uniting force for remaining “patriots.”

Girkin was arrested on extremism charges in July after months of castigating Putin and the country’s top defense officials while flouting Russian laws that forbid wartime criticism. The ultra-nationalist blogger has suggested several times that Putin and his generals haven’t gone far enough in the war in Ukraine, even calling for the full mobilization of Russia’s population.

Three weeks after a Moscow court ruled that Girkin would remain in prison for the time being, he posted a Telegram message from the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center on Monday with the help of his attorney.

Girkin, who once led a group of Russian militants in Donetsk, accused Russian authorities of failing to respond to the country’s most pressing problems and challenges, writing that Russia’s “troubles” will soon enter a “terminal stage” that will usher in a collapse of the entire system.

Girkin invoked Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash outside Moscow last month, saying the mercenary leader’s failed rebellion against Russia’s military brass in June marked the start of this acute stage of Russia’s “troubles,” while Prigozhin’s likely assassination marked a continuation of Russia’s internal strife.

He predicted the current Russian power system will lose control eventually and fall into the hands of the “so-called liberal opposition.” Girkin said he believes it is his duty — even from prison — to offer an alternative and unite Russia’s remaining patriotic people.

“I perfectly understand all the weaknesses of my current position, all the problems with my lack of necessary resources, and I do not at all overestimate the degree of my authority and influence,” Girkin wrote this week. “However, someone needs to rise first, if only to set an example and call others to action.”

His comments come as Russia faces a reckoning amid Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive. Ukraine’s spy chief told The Economist this week that Russia is running out of reserve troops and weapons that it needs to continue fighting. 

“My point of view is that it is too late to be afraid and wait — we are on the eve of the collapse of Russian statehood (God forbid that I am wrong!),” Girkin wrote.

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