MOSCOW (AP) — The daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often called “Putin’s mastermind” was killed in a car bomb attack on the outskirts of Moscow, authorities said Sunday.
The Moscow branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated that 29-year-old TV commentator Daria Dugina was killed by an explosive planted in the SUV she was driving on Saturday evening.
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 Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send 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.
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 the explosion on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin”.
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 bombed, but terrorist attacks are already being perpetrated in the Moscow region.
Although Dugin’s exact ties to 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 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula 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.
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.
During an appearance on Russian television last Thursday, Dugina said: “Westerners are living in a dream, in a dream given to them by world hegemony.” She called America a “zombie society” in which people opposed Russia but couldn’t find it on a map.
Dugina, “like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday.
An unknown Russian group, the National Republican Army, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday, according to a former Russian deputy, Ilya Ponomarev. The AP was unable to verify the existence of the group. Ponomarev, who left Russia after voting against its annexation of Crimea in 2014, made the statement on Ukrainian television.