Contrary to reports by Obozrevatel that the two Igors, Girkin (aka “Strelkov”) and Bezler, had fled Donetsk, it appears the exodus is only half true. Girkin, currently embattled internally against Vostok Battalion commander Olexander Khodakovsky and possibly self-declared ‘Commander in Chief’ Vladimir Antyufeyev, remains in the city.
According to the BBC’s Daniel Sandford, the Russian security chief Antyufeyev admitted today that self-declared prime minister Alexander Borodai had also escaped the city to Moscow, and did not indicate if he would return. The move also shifted Antyufeyev from deputy to acting prime minister, and “Commander in Chief” – a similar title to Girkin’s, who has also engaged in a powerplay.
Vladimir Antyufeyev says Alexander Borodai has left Donetsk for Russia. It’s not clear if he is going back
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) July 28, 2014
Partially putting questions to rest on his whereabouts, a sullen and dishevelled Girkin held a private press conference today for Russian journalists. The discussion centered mostly on battle reports, the heightening of attacks from Ukrainian forces, and continued denial of MH17 involvement, but notably mentioned that his men had killed four mercenaries operating Ukrainian tanks near the Russian border – “from the negroid race,” as he put it. In total, he says his forces have killed 165 American mercenaries, and 139 Polish.
Weirdest moment of six-minute Strelkov presser was when he claimed rebels had killed mercenaries “of the negroid race.” But it was all weird — max seddon (@maxseddon) July 28, 2014
Girkin has been known to make controversial and baseless statements, recently espousing a conspiracy theory that MH17 was full of corpses, drained of their blood, and detonated in a plot to discredit his men.