Daughter of Kremlin ideologue Aleksandr Dugin killed in Moscow car bomb attack

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By Aleksandar Brezar  with AP
Investigators work on the site of explosion of a car driven by Daria Dugina outside Moscow, 21 August 2022
Investigators work on the site of explosion of a car driven by Daria Dugina outside Moscow, 21 August 2022   -   Copyright  Investigative Committee of Russia via AP

The daughter of an influential Russian nationalist ideologue who is often referred to as "Putin's brain" was killed when her car exploded on the outskirts of Moscow, officials said Sunday.

The Investigative Committee branch for the Moscow region said the Saturday night blast was caused by a bomb planted in the SUV driven by Daria Dugina.

The 29-year-old was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a prominent proponent of the "Russian world" concept and a vehement supporter of Russia's invasion and potential annexation of Ukraine.

The "Russian world" is a nationalist spiritual idea purportedly meant to unite various nations connected by vaguely-defined "Russianness" under the Kremlin's banner. 

It is commonly cited as one of the ideological justifications for President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine in late February.

Dugina expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad.

"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.

The explosion took place as Dugina was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with her father. 

Russia points finger at Ukraine, Kyiv rejects being a 'terrorist state'

Some Russian media reports cited witnesses as saying the vehicle -- a Toyota Land Cruiser -- belonged to her father and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another car.

No suspects were immediately identified. However, it is believed that the incident might further aggravate the animosities between Russia and Ukraine.

Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist Moscow-backed Donetsk People's Republic in Ukraine's Donbas, 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 Aleksandr Dugin, not his daughter, was the likely intended target and said, “it’s completely obvious that the most probable suspects are Ukrainian military intelligence and the Ukrainian Security Service.”

Dugin helped popularise the Novorossiya, or New Russia, an illiberal totalitarian return to the Russian empire that the Kremlin used to justify the 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and its support of separatists in the Donbas.

Novorossiya, along with tzarist symbols, is commonly seen used by the Russian far-right and other extremist groups. 

Dugin and his theories have also become popular among a broader far-right audience in Europe, and he maintained close relations with Hungary's Jobbik, FPÖ in Austria and the French National Rally.

Domestically, Dugin has also been one of the founders of several nationalist and pan-Russian parties, including the National Bolshevik Front, the Eurasia Party and the National Bolshevik Party. The latter, also known as Nazbols, was banned by a Russian court in 2005.

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