Igor Leonidovich Mangushev
16 August 1986
|Died||8 February 2023 (aged 36)|
|Cause of death||Gunshot|
|Employer||Russian people's militias in Ukraine|
|Call sign||Bereg (Russian: Берег)|
Igor Leonidovich Mangushev (Russian: Игорь Леонидович Мангушев; 16 August 1986 – 8 February 2023), also known by his radio call sign Bereg (Russian: Берег), was a Russian mercenary and political advisor.
Born in Moscow during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Mangushev grew up harboring Russian nationalist views. In 2009, he founded the nationalist organization Svetlaya Rus in 2009 and subsequently established E.N.O.T. Corp., a private military company. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mangushev served as an officer in an anti-drone warfare platoon. In a speech given by Mangushev in 2022, during which he held a skull that he claimed was from a Ukrainian soldier killed during the siege of Mariupol, he outlined his rationale for the Russo-Ukrainian War; Mangushev sought to destroy Ukrainian national identity and terminate the existence of Ukraine as a sovereign state. According to his widow, he dreamed of seeing Kyiv burning.
On 4 February 2023, Mangushev was shot in the back of the head while in the Luhansk Oblast. He died on 8 February while in hospital. His widow has called for an investigation into his death, describing his killing as an assassination and alleging that medical care was inappropriately withheld from her husband in the days before his death.
Mangushev grew up to become a Russian nationalist, founding the organisation Svetlaya Rus (Russian: Светлая Русь) in late 2009. Mangushev, in his role leading Svetlaya Rus, coordinated with police and conducted raids on illegal migrants living within unlicensed dwellings in the Russian Federation. Following the raids on immigrant dwellings, Mangushev would contact local Russian police, who would take note of the illegal migrants, fingerprint them, and typically release them. His group was among the first such public-private partnerships in Russia to conduct these sorts of operations following the 2011 arrest of Russian pilots in Tajikistan.
By 2012, Mangushev's connections with militant patriotic groups in Russia had strengthened, and he founded and took the helm of E.N.O.T. (Russian: Енот), which was founded to coordinate Russia's nascent militarised patriotic movement.
According to documents leaked by Anonymous, Mangushev had become an employee of the Internet Research Agency by 2013. Kommersant reported in 2015 that Mangushev had written strategic analyses for various Russian government agencies prior to the 2014 onset of the Russo-Ukrainian War. He publicly spoke about his work as an internet troll, stating that he had written messages online both in favour and in opposition to 2013 Alexei Navalny mayoral campaign as a part of his work.
Military career and mercenary work
Mangushev worked as captain in the Luhansk People's Militia, and as a mercenary. Through E.N.O.T. Corp., he deployed as a fighter in the Russo-Ukrainian War beginning in 2014, though E.N.O.T. had claimed at the time that it was simply providing humanitarian assistance to individuals living in Donbas.: 131–132 Mangushev was an active proponent of the formation and use of private military companies in the war, seeing them as a way to unify the citizens' militias with a more structured organisation that could provide documentation of the militia's military activities.
In 2015, Mangushev continued to fight in Russian-occupied Luhansk and in December 2018 he was part of a three-person Russian continent that was delegated to Central African Republic's capitol city Bangui to take part in the Central African Republic Civil War. Mangushev provided support to the Russian state media funded Radio Lengo Songo. Mangushev also worked as a political strategist for Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch, and then-controller of Wagner Group. The strategy work included disinformation efforts, and the organisation of agent provocateurs to work against opposition politician Lyubov Sobol during the 2019 Moscow City Duma election.
During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mangushev led Russia's anti-drone platoon and used the call sign Bereg. The platoon sought out and destroyed Ukrainian drones by identifying and interrupting their WiFi signals with technology developed by Mangushev and his team. Mangushev was a vocal proponent of the war and a critic of some Russian military leaders who he perceived as hesitant and making slow progress in the war. He claimed to be the inventor of the Z symbol and was often photographed posing with a Nazi salute.
Mangushev operated the Telegram channel Notes of an Adventurer. In August 2022, a video circulated showing him appearing on a stage in a Russian nightclub holding a skull that he claimed was from a Ukrainian soldier who died in the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the siege of Mariupol. While on stage with the skull, he stated that he sought the destruction of Ukraine as a nation-state and that Russia's goal in the invasion of Ukraine was to destroy the Ukrainian national identity. Mangushev's widow said that he took the skull from the ruins of Azovstal because "one friend's wife wanted a skull of a Ukrainian very much".
Shooting, death, and aftermath
On the night of 4 February 2023, at a checkpoint in Kadiivka, Mangushev was shot in the back of the head. At the time, he had been stationed in Kadiivka as a soldier in the Russo-Ukrainian War. He was struck by a 9mm bullet at close range, and afterwards was taken to a hospital in Kadiivka. He died in the hospital on 8 February 2023, aged 36.
His wife described his death as an execution, and his friends have called for an official investigation into his death. British political scientist Mark Galeotti described the shooting as a "hit", while Mangushev's widow alleged that medical care was being intentionally withheld from her husband in the days between the shooting and his death.
Mangushev's body was cremated under strict supervision of his family because, as his widow explained, a US$70,000 prize was offered for his skull in response to his performance, and the family was seriously concerned that someone from the morgue or crematory will be tempted to covertly remove and sell it.
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