Notorious commander Igor Girkin advises Russians to retreat following the killing of militant 'Batman'
Former insurgent leader Igor Girkin has advised militants to get out of east Ukraine and abandon their war.
The comments from the ex-Russian agent follow the killing of a top Kremlin-backed fighter nicknamed Batman and other members of his squad on December 31 in a murder case widely linked by Ukrainian media to further fighting inside militant ranks and to further insurgent efforts to consolidate power away from rival gangs.
Girkin told online news site Russian Spring that the murder of Alexander Byednov, known as Batman, was a serious crime directed at the derailment of the insurgents' ambitions. Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, was propelled into the insurgency leadership after reportedly resigning from his Russian Secret Service position just prior to the Kremlin invading Ukraine's Crimea peninsula – events he claimed were unrelated.
A torture compound purportedly run by Byednov, where prisoners were beaten with pipes and hammers and threatened with surgical equipment, was reportedly liberated by the so-called Luhansk People's Republic, operating in eastern Ukraine. However the insurgent leadership have refuted several eyewitness testimonies posted on YouTube that the militant known as Batman was ambushed by armoured vehicles and murdered, without any chance to fight back.
Ukrainian intelligence claim to have recorded further evidence of new Russian troops arriving in Ukraine through militant-controlled checkpoints in the past several days.
Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andrey Lysenko said Russia was attempting to establish a single control centre of all militants in the Luhansk region to put a stop to lawlessness.