By AP and published by ABC News plus CNN
Moscow – The daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow, authorities said today (August 21).
The Moscow branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated 29-year-old TV commentator Daria Dugina was killed by an explosive planted in the SUV she was driving on Saturday night.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bloodshed gave rise to suspicions that the intended target was her father, Alexander Dugin, a nationalist philosopher and writer.
Dugin is a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasises traditional values, restoration of Russia’s power and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world. He is also a vehement supporter of Russia’s sending of troops into Ukraine.
The explosion took place as his daughter was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with him. Some Russian media reports cited witnesses as saying that the SUV belonged to Dugin and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another vehicle.
The vivid act of violence, unusual for Moscow, is likely to aggravate tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, the pro-Moscow region that is a focus of Russia’s fighting in Ukraine, blamed it on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Ukrainian involvement, saying, “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.”
Analyst Sergei Markov, a former Putin adviser, told the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti that Dugin, not his daughter, was probably the intended target and said, “It’s completely obvious that the most probable suspects are Ukrainian military intelligence and the Ukrainian Security Service.”
While Dugin’s exact ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin are unclear, the Kremlin frequently echoes rhetoric from his writings and appearances on Russian state TV. He helped popularise the “Novorossiya,” or New Russia, concept that Russia used to justify the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
He promotes Russia as a country of piety, traditional values and authoritarian leadership, and disdains Western liberal values.
His daughter expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, where Dugin had served as chief editor.
Dugina herself was sanctioned by the United States in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website that the US described as a disinformation source. The sanctions announcement cited a United World article this year that contended Ukraine would “perish” if it were admitted to NATO.
Dugina, “like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said today.
She claimed in a recent interview with the Russian news channel, 1RNK, that the atrocities that happened during the Russian occupation of the Ukrainian town of Bucha were American propaganda, chosen because of its phonological similarity to “butcher,” a word she connects with US President Joe Biden calling Putin a “butcher” on March 29.
CNN visited the scene of mass graves in Bucha in April after Russian forces had withdrawn, revealing the horrors of their occupation to the world. Images of bodies lying strewn the streets of Bucha sparked international condemnation and investigations into potential Russian war crimes. Multiple eyewitnesses and footage have connected many of the atrocities to Russian soldiers.
Her father was also sanctioned by the United States in 2015 for being responsible for, or complicit in actions or policies that threaten peace, security, stability, or sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The US Treasury department also said that Dugin was a leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, which actively recruited individuals with military and combat experience to fight on behalf of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and has stated that it has a covert presence in Ukraine.
In an interview with CNN in 2017, Dugin remarked on many similarities between his ideas and those of former US president Donald Trump. He called Trump’s inauguration speech discourse “as if I would write it myself.”
He also said that Putin provided inspiration for Trump, “a kind of… example to challenge the status quo, to challenge the conventional wisdom, challenge all these totalitarian principles of globalists and ultra-liberals.”
Top: Russian investigators believe an explosive device was planted in the car. Photo: CNN
First insert: Darya Dugina. Photo: CNN
Second insert: Investigators work on the site of explosion of a car driven by Daria Dugina outside Moscow. Photo: Investigative Committee of Russia via AP and published by ABC News
Third insert: Both Alexander Dugin and his daughter have been sanctioned by the United States. Photo: CNN
Front Page: Dugina died at the scene after the explosion, say investigators. Photo: CNN