Suspected car bomb kills Russian nationalist’s daughter known as ‘Putin’s mastermind’

The daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as the “mastermind of Putin” has been killed in a car bomb attack on the outskirts of Moscow, authorities said on Sunday.

The Moscow branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated TV commentator Darya Dugina, 29, 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 raised suspicions that the intended target was her father, Alexander Dugin, a nationalist philosopher and writer.

Dugin is a prominent proponent of the concept of the “Russian World”, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes traditional values, the restoration of Russian power, and the unity of all ethnic Russians around the world. He is also a strong supporter of sending Russian troops to Ukraine.

The explosion took place when his daughter was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with him. Russian media quoted witnesses as saying the SUV belonged to Dugin and that he decided at the last minute to travel in another vehicle.

“An act of intimidation”

The car bomb attack, unusual for Moscow, risks aggravating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist People’s Republic of Donetsk, the pro-Moscow region that is at the center of Russia’s fighting in Ukraine, blamed “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin”.

Investigators are seen working at the site of a suspected car bomb that killed Darya Dugina, daughter of ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin, in the Moscow region on Sunday. (Russian Investigative Commission/Reuters)

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied any Ukrainian involvement, saying, “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and certainly not a terrorist state.”

Political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, a former Putin speechwriter, called the attack “an act of intimidation” targeting Kremlin loyalists.

For them, he said, “it is a symbolic act, demonstrating that hostilities have been confidently transferred to the territory of Russia, which means that it is no longer an abstract war that you are looking at on TV,” he said. “This is already happening in Russia. Not only is Crimea being bombed, but terrorist attacks are already underway in the Moscow region.”

The Kremlin often echoes Dugin

While Dugin’s exact ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin are unclear, the Kremlin frequently echoes the rhetoric in his writings and appearances on Russian state television. He helped popularize the concept of “Novorossiya”, or New Russia, which Russia used to justify the annexation of Ukrainian Crimea in 2014 and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

It promotes Russia as a country of piety, traditional values ​​and authoritarian leadership, and disdains Western liberal values.

A man speaks into a microphone.
Alexander Dugin is seen at a rally in Moscow in October 2014 in support of the self-declared Russian-backed breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. (Moscow News Agency/Reuters)

His daughter expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist television channel Tsargrad, where Dugin had served as editor.

Dugina herself was sanctioned by the United States in March for her work as editor of United World International, a website the United States has called a source of disinformation. The sanctions announcement cited a United World article from that year that claimed Ukraine would “perish” if admitted to NATO.

Dugina, “like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday.

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