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Car blast kills daughter of Russian nationalist known as ‘Putin’s brain’

The bloodshed gave rise to suspicions that the intended target was Daria Dugina’s father, Alexander Dugin, a nationalist philosopher and writer.

August 21, 2022 04:17 pm | Updated 11:54 pm IST - MOSCOW

Investigators work at the site of a suspected car bomb attack that killed Darya Dugina, daughter of ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin, in the Moscow region on August 21, 2022. Photo: Investigative Committee of Russia via Reuters

Investigators work at the site of a suspected car bomb attack that killed Darya Dugina, daughter of ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin, in the Moscow region on August 21, 2022. Photo: Investigative Committee of Russia via Reuters

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 on Sunday.

The Moscow branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated that the 29-year-old TV commentator Daria Dugina was killed by an explosive planted in the SUV she was driving on Saturday night.

‘Father, the intended target’

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.

Mr. Dugin is a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes on 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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Dugin, and 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 Mr. 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 popularize 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 Mr. Dugin had served as chief editor.

Ms. Dugina herself was sanctioned by the United States in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website that the U.S. 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.

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

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