The disturbing tale of how a former Texas Democrat devolved into a far-right 'frontline Putin propagandist'

The disturbing tale of how a former Texas Democrat devolved into a far-right 'frontline Putin propagandist'
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Russell "Texas" Bentley was once a drug-dealing leftist but now he's devolved into a far-right extremist in support of Russian President Vladamir Putin.

The Putin advocate garnered attention from the far-right this week with his viral YouTube video explaining his position. Although the controversial video was removed from YouTube, it is still circulating on Twitter. Now, he's conducted an interview with Rolling Stone to further discuss how he made the transition.

According to Bentley's remarks, his goal aligns with that of Putin. He claims he desires to "bring 'Ukraine back into the Slavic family where it belongs and has been for 1,000 years.' As for the 'bad people' he hopes to see the hammer dropped on? They seem to include not only the rulers of Ukraine but the leaders of his former American homeland."

He added, "On VK — the Russian alternative to Facebook — Bentley posted that he was 'heading west with the Liberators of Ukraine. We may stop in Kiev, we may stop on the English Channel. We may liberate the USA.'”

On Tuesday, March 1, Rolling Stone conducted a phone interview with Bentley. The propagandist, who described himself as an “auto-didact" and an "information warrior" for Russia, claims his distrust of the U.S. government has gradually swelled over the years.

His belief in conspiracies has also increased significantly. Like many other right-wing conspiracy theorists, Bentley has distorted beliefs about 9/11. He claims his U.S. military expertise have helped him to determine that 9/11 was "an inside job."

He said, "You can say what you want about building one and two, but building seven? Anyone that doesn’t understand that that was a pre-planned, pre-placed controlled demolition is either an idiot or a liar.”

Over the years, Bentley's disdain for the United States government waned while his fascination with Russia grew. When the Maidan Revolution began in Ukraine in 2014, Bentley became more determined to stand for Russia. He believes the overturn of the Russian-supported government in Kyiv was nothing more than "the work of the State Department and the CIA and Soros."

The Russian enthusiast reportedly packed up, broke up with his girlfriend and made his way to the frontlines Donbas. He recalled what life was like when he first arrived. “When I came here, I didn’t think I would live through the winter, bro,” says Bentley. “I didn’t hardly speak Russian. It was a major war with a full-on National Army against the people’s militia. And I was on the little guys’ side,” he said, as he claimed to believe he was "defending good people against abjectly evil people.”

As for the Russian assault on Ukraine, Bentley is adamant about his support of Putin although it will only lead to more innocent bloodshed. He concluded with an eerie prayer as the Russian invasion continues. “May God protect the innocent,” he said. “And may the rest of us get everything that we deserve.”

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