April 24, 2024

"Texas" Killed in Donbas


"Texas" Killed in Donbas
Russell "Texas" Bentley Telegram

Sixty-four-year-old Russell Bentley, an American who operated under the alias "Texas," was recently killed in Donbas. He had previously worked for the Russian pro-Kremlin project Sputnik and fought in Donbas on the side of pro-Russian separatists.

Before his death, he was allegedly kidnapped by Russian military personnel; military bloggers assert that he was killed and possibly subjected to sexual assault.

A native of Texas, Russell Bentley joined the armed forces of the self-proclaimed DNR (Donetsk People's Republic) in 2014, serving with the pro-Russian Vostok battalion. Subsequently, he began working for the Sputnik news outlet, a project of the state-owned Rossiya Segonya (Russia Today). Bentley later married a woman from Donetsk and obtained Russian citizenship. After the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he provided coverage of the conflict in Ukraine from a pro-Kremlin perspective on his Telegram channel.

On April 8, Russell Bentley went missing following shelling in Donetsk. His wife, Lyudmila, said that he had gone to aid victims and had not been in contact since. On April 12, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the separatists Donetsk People's Republic initiated a search for Bentley. Three days later, Lyudmila announced that he had been abducted by Russian military personnel.

"My husband was forcibly taken and is currently being held illegally by members of the military, specifically tank crews from the 5th brigade," she wrote in a post published on the Bentley Telegram channel.

Later, the Telegram channel Kremlyevksaya Tabakerka (Kremlin Snuff Box), citing a source close to Donetsk People's Republic leader Denis Pushilin, reported that Bentley was detained on suspicion of espionage for NATO countries, subjected to sexual assault by the military, and then killed.

Other pro-war Telegram channels also reported on Bentley's killing. Some liken what happened to Bentley to the murder of separatist battalion commander Aleksandr Magushev, known by the call sign "Berg," who was killed in territory occupied by Russian troops with a gunshot to the back of the head.

Notably, Telegram channels that reported not only the death but specifically the murder of an American were censored. Aleksandr Khodakovsky, the commander of the unit in which Russell Bentley once fought, was compelled to remove his post. Other Telegram channels also report receiving threats from individuals wishing to report them for "discrediting the army."

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