A week before he died, Aleksey Mozgovoi was dismissive about threats to his life. “They wouldn’t risk making anybody a hero,” he told The Independent. Those would be his last words on the subject. Seven days after his last interview, on Saturday at about 5.30pm local time, the outspoken rebel commander was assassinated in a hail of gunfire.


The term “organised crime” instantly conjures up brutal imagery of a crime family going about its day-to-day business to the tune of Coppola’s The Godfather. Life began to imitate art, as US and Italian Mafia families (reportedly) copied the mannerisms of the over-stylised characters in the movies.


Scarred by decades of political corruption and many months of war, the rebel-held town of Alchevsk in eastern Ukraine has few attractions. Its biggest draw is undoubtedly Commander Aleksey Mozgovoi, the enigmatic leader of the rebel “Ghost” battalion, who has taken up residence in the former security services building on Lenin Street.