Igor Girkin aka Strelkov, the long-forgotten "hero" of the failed "Novorossia" project, who has been sharply criticizing the Russian government and the Kremlin's policy on Donbas (without any consequences, which is important to note) ever since he fled eastern Ukraine for Moscow, may see a sharp "career turn" soon.
In a rather dramatic twist, the "retired" FSB Colonel and infamous terrorist could be returned to the occupied territories in Donbas, Ukrainian military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko wrote in an op-ed on the Information Resistance website.
The Russian media, in particular the Moskovsky Komsomolets news portal, have already begun spinning narratives that the "people of Donbas" demand the return of the "hero" who was with them during their most difficult days in 2014. And it is under Girkin's auspices that the "independent" Donbas should be united in the format of the unrecognized self-proclaimed "Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics" ("DPR" and "LPR").
Of course, Girkin himself has so far disavowed such prospects claiming he was done with Donbas, "but not everything is as simple as it might seem at first glance," the author writes.
Firstly, in the context of the confrontation between the GRU [military intelligence] and the FSB security service in the occupied part of Donbas, the FSB needs a reliable and trustworthy person with leadership skills, who is recognized by the people. "Trapeznikov just does not fit this role," the columnist says. And in general, most members of the current "DPR government" are anything but charismatic and respected.
Secondly, Girkin is an "FSB guy," and now it is the moment the agency sees it possible, and necessary, to promote him to succeed the late Zakharchenko. Girkin may also be put forward in the Donbas political arena as a kind of a "third" force with a hint of a "gray cardinal," a moderator. At the same time, his staged "critical" stance toward the Kremlin he has been sticking to lately will give the FSB a greater field for maneuver, as they could always deny any connections with Girkin citing his "anti-Kremlin views."
Thirdly, Girkin, as a person particularly close to the Moscow-controlled Orthodox Church, being an ideal candidate to lead the so-called "great crusade" against the background of prospects of Constantinople granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).
It is worth remembering that it was Girkin who visited Simferopol a month before Crimea's occupation as a guard of the Gifts of the Magi delivered to the peninsula under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and personally Russian Patriarch Kirill.
Taking into account the threats pro-Moscow clerics and their sympathizers voice that a "religious war" may begin in Ukraine if autocephaly is granted, Girkin's reappearance is not so much surprising.
The question of religious confrontation in Ukraine could be entrusted to Girking, to let him spark escalation at the Donbas frontlines ahead of Ukraine elections, which could play into the hands of pro-Russian candidates who promote "peace" at all costs.