29-year-old Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian ultranationalist, was killed in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow. Investigators said she was traveling late on Saturday in a Toyota Land Cruiser and died following the detonation of an explosive device planted in the SUV.
Her father, Alexander Dugin, is rumored to be a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, a political theorist often referred to as Putin’s brain. He is believed to be an influential voice in shaping Putin’s worldview and a supporter of Putin’s approach of sending troops to Ukraine.
Darya Dugina: Daughter of Putin ally killed in Moscow bomb.
The daughter of a close ally to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has reportedly been killed near Moscow.
According to state media, Darya Dugina died after her car exploded in flames while she was driving home. pic.twitter.com/i0CqNVuERb
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Dugin is also a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept, a spiritual and political ideology emphasizing traditional values. He has long advocated unifying Russian-speaking regions and territories as part of a new Russian empire.
In addition, he promotes Russia as a country of piety and authoritarian leadership and disdains Western liberal values. The United States also sanctioned Dugin following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine in 2014.
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State news agency TASS quoted Andrei Krasnov, who said he knew Dugina personally, saying the vehicle belonged to her father. Speculation is that Dugina’s unfortunate death circumstances might have been an assassination attempt on her father instead, though there has been no claim of responsibility.
Other than the fact that the car belonged to Dugin, he had also taken that particular SUV out that day. Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, reported that the duo attended a cultural festival outside Moscow and decided to switch cars at the last minute.
Russia’s investigative committee said, “An explosive device was placed on the underside of the car on the driver’s side. Darya Dugina, who was behind the wheel, died at the scene. The investigation believes that the crime was planned in advance and was of a contractual nature.”
The President of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, has blamed the blast on Ukraine. Pushilin republic is a pro-Moscow region that is a focus of Russia’s fighting in Ukraine. He claimed that the explosion was caused by “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”
Analyst Sergei Markov, a former Putin adviser, also agreed with this. He said, “It’s completely obvious that the most probable suspects are Ukrainian military intelligence and the Ukrainian Security Service.” He also added that their target was Dugin, not his daughter.
Some others have speculated that she could have also been the target. She had shared in his beliefs and has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West. She was also a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, where Dugin had served as chief editor.
The United States sanctioned Dugina herself in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website the U.S. described as a disinformation source.
This unusual car bombing in Moscow is expected to aggravate tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said if the investigation’s trail led to Ukraine, then it would point to a policy of “state terrorism” being pursued by Kyiv.
Dmitry Babich, a political analyst at inoSMI, added, “This is obviously a terrorist attack, which will have a very negative impact because it will make the war between Russia and Ukraine much bloodier and much more violent.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, has denied Ukraine’s involvement in this bombing. She said, “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and not a terrorist state.” Investigators said they opened a murder case, would carry out forensic examinations, and consider “all versions” of events.