THE MURDER OF RUSSELL BENTLEY CAUSED A SPLIT AMONG PRO-PUTIN Z-PROPAGANDISTS

Russell Bentley is a well-known figure in Russian propaganda who actively supported and promoted pro-Russian views. In December 2014, he arrived in Ukraine to fight for the terrorist group “DNR” operating in Donetsk region. He joined the “Vostok” battalion as a grenadier and rifleman and was known by the call sign “Texas.” He fought in the villages of Spartak and Yasinuvata, as well as in the Avdiivka area.
Bentley claimed that his motive was the belief that Ukraine was under occupation by the USA, which he accused of committing war crimes. Subsequently, he obtained a Russian passport and even married a woman from Donetsk, serving as an ideal example of a foreign volunteer who embodies all the main Kremlin ideals.

Bentley is using propaganda techniques in his speech which includes focusing on narratives about “Nazis” and “Banderites”. He is arguing that all of Ukraine should be returned to the “Slavic brotherhood” and claiming that the U.S. administration consists of fascists who aim to subjugate Ukraine politically and economically.

Ten years ago, “Texas” fought against Russian terrorist groups for almost a year. However, later on, he shifted his focus towards propaganda activities, becoming a war correspondent for the Russian state media project, Sputnik. He also established a charity in the USA that is aligned with the Orthodox Church.

The members of the Z-community often discussed him and frequently quoted his interviews. However, now that “Texas” has been killed, the propagandists are uncertain about what to say or how to react to his death. Russell Bentley went missing on April 8th in Donetsk. His wife, Lyudmila, reported that he was taken into custody by military personnel belonging to the 5th Separate Guards Tank Brigade from Ulan-Ude, Buryatia. The arrest was violent and occurred near the Autobase in the Petrovsky district. On April 19th, it was confirmed that Bentley had been killed.

Alexander Khodakovsky, who founded the “Vostok” battalion, responded quickly to the news by calling for the punishment of those responsible for the death of “Texas”. He emphasized that any attempt to shield the military from criticism should not be tolerated, and that those accountable should be held responsible for their actions. However, Khodakovsky’s post was later deleted due to his official status, which requires him to adhere to certain guidelines, even though he acknowledged the importance of holding the guilty parties accountable. This incident exposes how criminal behavior among military personnel is often overlooked within the Russian power structure, providing them with impunity due to their status.

There are three groups of people with different reactions to the death of Russell Bentley. The first group demands punishment for the people responsible for his death. The second group is also outraged and wants retribution. This group is the largest, and it includes individuals like war correspondent Roman Saponkov, who thinks that the “new republics” sometimes resemble Chechnya in the early 2000s. He believes this is due to the chaos and anarchy. Another member of this group is military man Yegor Guzenko, also known as “Thirteenth,” who emphasizes that Russell Bentley was not simply killed; he was murdered, and it’s important to use the correct terms. Guzenko demands that those responsible for “Texas’s” death be publicly shown on federal channels. The third group only writes literary obituaries without mentioning any trial or punishment.

However, any talk of investigations or finding those responsible is out of the question if the “DNR” is a grey zone, and an investigation there would only occur if it could be used to craft a favorable narrative for propaganda. To date, there have been no official comments on the death of “Texas.” In the Z-community, it is noted that the Russian Investigative Committee has not announced any intention to identify those involved in the abduction and death of Russell Bentley, and his wife continues to await a response. Likely, she will be waiting indefinitely.

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