In a morbid turn of events, a separatist leader in eastern Ukraine, who is among the suspected militants to have shot down the Malaysian Airlines MH 17 plane last week, is being identified as the same individual who served as a Russian military officer involved in the killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in 1992.
Igor Girkin, known more commonly by his pseudonym Igor Strelkov, has been called "one of the most powerful separatist figures in Eastern Ukraine", according to Business Insider, and is suspected of downing the Malaysian plane.
The link drawn to the 1992 ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims is based on a photograph that shows Strelkov in his younger days in Visegrad in the company of Boban Indic, a member of the Serbian brigade that took control of the Bosnian town in 1992.
This photo is being considered as evidence that Strelkov, as part of the Russian Army, participated in the pogrom of Bosnian Muslims, in which 3,000 Bosniak civilians were killed. The massacre is said to be one of the worst instances of ethnic cleansing, wherein thousands of Muslims were rounded up and executed, while women were raped and then killed along with the children.
A retired army officer, Aziz Tafro, has confirmed to the Bosnian media that the Russian nationalist was involved in the Bosnian murders.
Strelkov's bloody streak was evident even after two decades, when he is said to have arrogantly bragged following the MH 17 crash, which is widely suspected to be the handiwork of the militants.
According to News.com, Krelkov was filmed in a mobile phone video of MH 17 as it crashed, in which he bragged "That was a blast – look at the smoke!". He had even reportedly posted a kind of a warning on Twitter following the crash, saying – "We warned you — do not fly in 'our sky'". The report describes the video footage believed to have Krelkov's voice as "sickening" and "horrific" as it showed the rebels rejoicing and laughing after the crash.
Strelkov was also present during the Russian annexation of Crimea, and was reportedly involved in conflicts in Chechnya and Transnistria (the Russian breakaway Republic in Moldova). He has been charged by Ukraine authorities with terrorism and is currently sanctioned by the European Union. He is said to have declared himself the Minister of Defense of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)