Russia blames Ukraine for nationalist Daria Dugina’s car bombing death

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Russia’s top counterintelligence agency on Monday blamed Ukrainian spy services for organizing the killing of Daria Dugina, a 29-year-old political commentator and daughter of a leading Russian nationalist ideologue, in a car bombing just outside Moscow on Saturday night.

Dugina’s commentary frequently echoed that of her father, Alexander Dugin, a philosopher, writer and political theorist, whom some in the West described as “Putin’s brain.”

On Sunday, Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak denied any Ukrainian involvement in the killing.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency, said Monday that Dugina’s killing had been “prepared and perpetrated by the Ukrainian special services.”

The FSB accused Ukrainian citizen Natalya Vovk of carrying out the bombing, saying she arrived in Russia in July with her 12-year-old daughter and rented an apartment in the building where Dugina lived, in order to shadow her. The agency said Vovk and her daughter were at a Russian nationalist festival which Daria Dugina and her father attended just before the car bombing.

The identity of the suspect and any evidence linking her to the attack could not be independently confirmed.

The FSB said Vovk and her daughter left Russia for Estonia after Dugina’s killing, using a different vehicle license plate on their way out of the country.

Russian law enforcement said it would seek to extradite the suspect to Russia, threatening “tough actions” if Estonia refuses to cooperate. 

Russian media reports cited witnesses as saying the SUV that was bombed belonged to Alexander Dugin, and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another vehicle.

Russian officials investigate the scene after the car of Daria Dugina, daughter of Alexander Dugin, Russian political scientist and ally of President Vladimir Putin exploded on Mozhayskoye highway in Moscow, Russia on August 21, 2022.  Russian Investigative Committee/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

On Sunday, Denis Pushilin, head of the Russia-backed separatist “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Ukraine’s east, quickly blamed the blast on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”

Dugin, who has been slapped with U.S. and European sanctions, has been a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes traditional values, the restoration of Russia’s global clout and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world. He has been vehemently supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to send troops into Ukraine and urged the Kremlin to step up its operations in the country.

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, as well as by the British government last month. The U.S. sanctions announcement cited a United World article this year that contended Ukraine would “perish” if it were admitted to NATO. Dugina had also appeared as a commentator on nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, where Dugin had served as chief editor.

File photos of Russian political commentator Daria Dugina, left, and her father, Alexander Dugin, a Putin ally and nationalist political theorist.  Left: TSARGRAD.TV via Reuters / Right: Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

In an appearance on Russian television just last Thursday, Dugina said, “People in the West are living in a dream, in a dream given to them by global hegemony.” She called America “a zombie society” in which people opposed Russia but couldn’t find it on a map.

The car bombing, unusual for Moscow since the turbulent 1990s, is likely to aggravate tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

“My daughter Daria Dugina was brutally killed by an explosion in front of my eyes. She was a beautiful, Orthodox girl. A patriot, a military correspondent, an expert on the central channels, and a philosopher. Her speeches and reporting have always been profound, grounded and restrained. She never called for violence and war,” Dugin said Monday. “Our hearts yearn for more than just revenge or retribution. It’s too petty, not Russian. We only need our victory.”

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