Car explosion kills Daria Dugina, daughter of Russian nationalist known as “Putin’s brain”

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Moscow — The daughter of an influential Russian political theorist who is often referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow, officials said Sunday.

The Moscow branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated a bomb planted in the SUV driven by Daria Dugina, 29, exploded Saturday night and killed the TV commentator who was the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a nationalist philosopher and writer.

Dugin is a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes traditional values, restoration of Russia’s power and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world. He also is a vehement supporter of Russia sending 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 the SUV belonged to Dugin and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another vehicle.

The vivid and violent incident, unusual for Moscow, is likely to aggravate Russia-Ukraine animosity.

In this handout photo taken from video released by Investigative Committee of Russia on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, investigators work on the site of explosion of a car driven by Daria Dugina outside Moscow. Investigative Committee of Russia via AP

No suspects were immediately identified. But Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic 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 on national TV that “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.”

Analyst Sergei Markov, a former Putin adviser, told Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti that Alexander Dugin, not his daughter, likely was 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 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 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 U.S. described as a disinformation site. The sanctions announcement cited a UWI article this year that contended Ukraine would “perish” if it were admitted to NATO.

“Dasha, like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday, using the familiar form of her name.

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