[Updated] Self-styled creator of pro-Russian ‘Z’ symbol reportedly assassinated

UkraineA LEADING RUSSIAN NATIONALIST, who styled himself as the originator of ‘Z’, the symbol of the Russian campaign in Ukraine, has reportedly died after being shot in the head in an apparent assassination. Igor Mangushev, 36, is a prominent figure in Russia’s nationalist circles. A vocal supporter of Russian premier Vladimir Putin, Mangushev’s hardline and unapologetically nationalist social media presence has helped popularize the Kremlin’s policies among younger Russians.

By the late 2010s, Mangushev had spent nearly a decade in Russian ultra-nationalist street gangs. Eventually a pro-Kremlin paramilitary group he founded and led, known as Svetlaya Rus (Light Rus), was conscripted by the Russian military to assist in grey zone operations in the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. It was in Ukraine that Mangushev’s group merged with other armed ultra-nationalist clusters to form the so-called Yenot (Raccoon) private military company, or Yenot PMC. Soon after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Mangushev began to describe himself (without evidence) as the creator of the ‘Z’ symbol that the Kremlin uses as a sign of support for the Russian military campaign.

In the ensuing years, Yenot PMC paramilitaries saw action in several battles in Ukraine and in Syria. In the meantime, Mangushev worked alongside close Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, the alleged owner of the Wagner Group, one of the world’s largest private military companies. There was much fanfare in Russian nationalist social media circles last year, when Mangushev (using the moniker “Bereg”) announced he had joined the Russian Armed Forces at the rank of captain. It is believed, however, that Mangushev’s Russian military title was nominal, and that continued to operate as leader of the Yenot PMC.

Last Sunday, British newspaper The Telegraph was the first Western news site to report that Mangushev was on the brink of death in a Russian military hospital, after having been shot in the head. The attack apparently took place in Kadiivka, a city in Ukraine’s breakaway province of Luhansk, which the Russians call Stakhanov. According to reports from Ukraine, the attack on Mangushev involved a short-barreled weapon, possibly a 9mm handgun, which was fired “at close range” to the victim. Officially, Russian government sources acknowledged that Mangushev had been in an “accident”. However, Russian military commentators have been describing the incident as “an execution attempt” on Mangushev.

The Ukrainian government has not commented on the alleged assassination attempt, though the story has been widely circulated in Ukrainian news websites and social media platforms.

Author: Ian Allen | Research credit: P.H. | Date: 07 February 2023 | Updated: 08 February 2023 | Permalink


One Response to [Updated] Self-styled creator of pro-Russian ‘Z’ symbol reportedly assassinated

  1. Anonymous says:

    This Russian National Socialist gang leader may have been helped into the afterlife, but no one can take the Z from him. It’s no coincidence Z implies Russian NaZis.

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