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Mercenary Igor Mangushev, 36, has been taken to hospital in Stakhanov in Russia’s eastern Donetsk region with a gunshot wound to the head. The propagandist and fighter was famed as one of Russia’s most notorious TV spin doctors before going into the army using the name of Bereg.
Graphic pictures showing Mangushev lying covered in blood on a hospital bed have been shared on social media by his friend Boris Rozhkin, who described his condition as “grave.”
Doctors determined Mangushev was shot at close range by a handgun user.
No further details about the attack has been revealed.
Russia expert Mark Galeotti said that Mangushev’s links with Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the private military contractor Wagner, are significant and this could be a “proxy attack”.
Galeotti said: “I think we can safely describe this as a hit.”
“This could be a warning, or taking a pawn off the board, or a sign that Mr Prigozhin’s more thuggish rivals feel he is weakened enough that they can move.”
Mangushev provoked some ire last year, when footage emerged of him waving a skull of a Ukrainian soldier killed on stage in Mariupol.
The twisted ultranationalist said: “Why can’t there be any reconciliation?”
“Ukraine must be de-Ukrainized.
“The Russian lands of Novorossiya must be returned back.
“We are not at war with people of blood and flesh. We are at war with an idea — Ukraine as an anti-Russian state.”
Holding the skull, he was quoted by Astra media as saying: “We’re alive and this guy is already dead.
“Let him burn in hell.
“He wasn’t lucky. We’ll make a goblet out of his skull.”
In his Telegram channel, Mangushev openly calls for the killing of civilians.
“We will burn your houses, kill your families, take away your children and raise them as Russians,” he posted.
Mangushev is fighting against Ukraine but is also the head of nationalist movement Light Russia and creator of private army ENOT which allegedly has links to the FSB.
The performance with a human skull violated at least one article – 244 – of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: “Desecration of the bodies of the dead.”
It is also a war crime in international law.
The location and timing of the video’s recording was not clear and could not be independently verified.
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