Russian investigators on Friday arrested a leading nationalist critic of the country’s conduct of the war in Ukraine, in a sign that last month’s mutiny by Wagner soldiers has further reduced tolerance of any dissent, even among those who support Moscow’s invasion.

Igor Girkin, also known as Strelkov, was arrested at his apartment by investigators who accused him of participating in extremist activities, his wife, Miroslava, said in a poster in the Telegram messaging app. RIA Novosti, Russia’s state news agency, confirmed Mr. Girkin’s arrest, citing his lawyer.

A popular nationalist blogger, Mr. Girkin has been increasingly critical of the leadership of the Russian Army and the way it has managed the war in Ukraine. He argued for a stronger mobilization of Russian society and its economy to support the war effort, as well as a purge of those who oppose the invasion.

He has stepped up his criticism in recent days, launching personal attacks on President Vladimir V. Putin, whom he called “nothing that managed to ‘throw dust in the eyes’ of a large part of the population.”

“The country cannot survive another six years of this cowardly mediocrity at the helm,” Mr Girkin wrote in Telegram post on Tuesday, referring to the upcoming presidential election in Russia.

A Russian army veteran and former intelligence officer, Mr Girkin helped Russia illegally annex Crimea in 2014 and later led pro-Russian separatist militias in eastern Ukraine. With his ruthless discipline, he earned a reputation as a decisive commander.

In May 2014, he was appointed defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist entity that claimed the territory of Ukraine’s Donetsk region. He was fired a few months later after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Last November, a court in the Netherlands found Mr. Girkin and two others guilty of murder for their roles in the downing of the plane; Mr. Girkin denied responsibility.

Since 2014, Mr. Girkin has been gradually sidelined, his messianic views widely seen as too extreme. He regained prominence with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, becoming one of the most popular commentators on the war.

Echoing Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group of mercenaries, Mr. Girkin has increasingly criticized the Russian military leadership. He derided Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu as a “plywood marshal,” but he also criticized Mr. Prigozhin’s attempt to challenge the foundations of Mr. Putin’s power by launching a rebellion in late June.

This month, the Russian authorities searched a patriotic cultural center in St. Petersburg, where Mr. Girkin said he was scheduled to give a speech. It was a rare move against hardline supporters of the war in Ukraine that signaled a growing Russian effort to crack down on influential ultranationalists after the Wagner uprising.

The aborted rebellion increased the powers of the Russian Defense Ministry, which had long been “itching to arrest” Mr. Girkin, said Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“This is one of the consequences of Prigozhin’s rebellion,” Ms. Stanovaya said in a Telegram post after Mr. Girkin’s arrest was announced.

“The army has gained more political opportunities to suppress its opponents in public space,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect it to turn into something massive; the most radical may be persecuted, so the rest will be more cautious.”

While Mr. Girkin was the most high-profile critic of the Russian military’s conduct of the war, he was not the only nationalist figure to be indicted this week. A retired colonel of Russia’s military intelligence, Vladimir Kvachov, has been accused of defaming the armed forces, according to Russian news media reports.

Until now, the accusation of discrediting the armed forces has been used mostly against left-wing critics of the war. Mr. Kvachov, 74, was quoted as told by the Kommersant newspaper that the charges were probably based on criticism he had published, as part of a group of hard-line, mostly retired military officers, of the Kremlin’s war campaign, calling for all-out war against Ukraine.

On Friday, a group of supporters of Mr. Girkin said inside a poster on his Telegram channel that his arrest “undermines the confidence of the country’s population in law enforcement agencies” and will have “extremely negative consequences for the stability of the country.”

But Mr. Putin has signaled that he is firmly on the side of his military leadership. The Russian president said on Friday during a meeting with members of his Security Council that the military acted “professionally” in managing the fighting in Ukraine.

Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting.

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