A prominent Russian military blogger has been arrested after criticising Vladimir Putin’s handling of the war in Ukraine.
Igor Girkin, who is also a former intelligence officer, has been accused of “extremism” by the Kremlin.
If convicted, he could face five years in prison.
UK intelligence said Girkin has “long been a critic of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s conduct of the war”.
“However, in recent days his comments turned to direct criticism of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his time in power,” the latest update from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) added.
“The move is likely to infuriate fellow members of the mil-blogger community – and elements within the serving military – who largely see Girkin as an astute military analyst and patriot.”
The MoD said Girkin had “played a major role in Russia’s war in the Donbas from 2014 and spent months on the front line in 2022”.
They added that last month’s failed mutiny attempt by the Wagner Group had likely emboldened Putin’s critics to speak out.
“The taboo against unmasked criticism of the Putin regime has significantly weakened,” the MoD said.
Referring to Putin, Girkin wrote earlier this week: “The country won’t survive another six years with this talentless coward in power.”
The Times reported that Girkin, who is also known as Igor Strelkov, was found guilty last year by a court in the Hague of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, causing the death of all 298 people on board.
With Russia refusing to extradite him, he was sentenced to life in prison in his absence.