Russia has blamed Ukrainian “special services” of executing a car bombing that led to the death of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a well known Russian ultra-nationalist who has supported Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kyiv denied involvement in the attack on Monday, with Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak calling the accusation “propaganda”.
bombing that killed the daughter of top Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin.
Flowers and candles sat next to a portrait of Darya Dugina, who was killed in a car bomb attack, in Moscow, Russia August 22, 2022.
Russia blamed Ukrainian “special services” of executing a car bombing that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of an influential Russian ultra-nationalist who has backed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dugina, a 29-year-old commentator with a nationalist Russian TV channel, was killed on Saturday when a remotely-controlled explosive device planted in her Toyota Land Cruiser exploded as she was driving on the outskirts of Moscow, authorities said.
Russian media alleged that her father, Alexander Dugin, who has supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, switched cars with his daughter briefly before the blast.
Dugin — a philosopher, writer and political theorist who some in the West have dubbed “Putin’s brain” — is believed by some to have been the intended target.
In a press release on Monday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the KGB, stated that the “crime was prepared and committed by Ukrainian special services”.
The FSB disclosed that a Ukrainian citizen, Natalya Vovk, executed the killing and then escaped to Estonia.
The FSB said Vovk and her 12-year-old daughter got to Russia in July and spent a month preparing the attack by renting an apartment in the same housing block and researching Dugina’s lifestyle.
The reported assailant was at an event outside Moscow on Saturday evening that Dugina and her father also attended, before executing a “controlled explosion” of Dugina’s car and then crossing into Estonia, the FSB said.
The intelligence agency also released security surveillance video of the alleged assailant along with her military ID, stating she belonged to Ukraine’s Azov regiment.
“For a professional security service to send a mother and daughter hit squad — it’s a novelty like American SEALS or Israeli intelligence operatives. The culprits miraculously got across the border into Estonia out of reach, and that leaves a lot of question marks.”
Estonia’s interior ministry, police and border guard service revealed in separate statements they could share information on individuals entering and leaving Estonia “only in cases prescribed by law”, adding the FSB allegation did not meet that requirement.
Darya Dugina was a fierce supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and often espoused her father’s views in support of Russian imperialism on nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, but observers have noted she was not a widely-known figure.
In a letter extending condolences to Dugin and his wife, Putin denounced the “cruel and treacherous” killing and added that Dugina “honestly served people and the Fatherland, proving what it means to be a patriot of Russia with her deeds”.
He posthumously awarded Dugina the Order of Courage, one of Russia’s highest medals.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharov said Dugina’s killing revealed Kyiv’s dependence on “terrorism as an instrument of its criminal ideology”.
In a press release, Dugin depicted his daughter as a “rising star” who was “treacherously killed by enemies of Russia”.
“Our hearts are longing not just for revenge and retaliation. It would be too petty, not in Russia style,” Dugin wrote. “We need only victory.”
Some analysts have called Dugin “Putin’s Rasputin”, referring to Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, who implied himself with the last emperor of Russia, Nicholas II. But others have questioned how much influence the media personality had on Putin and his policies.
Alexander Dugin is a strong supporter of Russia sending soldiers into Ukraine and is a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept — a spiritual and political ideology that emphasises traditional values, restoration of Russia’s power, and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world.
He assisted in popularizing the “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia” concept that Russia used to justify the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. He was penalized by the United States in 2015 over the annexation of Crimea.
His daughter was also penalized by the US in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website that Washington has depicted as a source of misinformation.
In an appearance on Russian television last week, Dugina tagged the US “a zombie society” where people oppose Russia but cannot find it on a map.
On Monday, occupants of Moscow laid flowers and lit candles at a makeshift memorial.
“She was a unique person, and this loss is absolutely irreplaceable,” said Sergei Sidorov.
Some Russian opposition figures were sceptical about the rate at which the FSB appeared to have address the case and recommended alternative versions.
Ilya Ponomaryov, a former legislator turned Ukraine-based Kremlin critic, stated that a previously unidentified group of Russian militants called the National Republican Army was responsible.
Ponomaryov was the only member of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, to vote against the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and later left Russia.
Ponomaryov, who manages an online TV station designed to counter the Kremlin’s narrative of the war, read out a manifesto he stated that the group had sent him. It disclosed that the group was dedicated to overthrowing Putin and building a new Russia. Such statements are unlawful inside Russia and those who make them face long jail terms.
Some Russian opposition activists have meanwhile inferred that the murder may have been planned by forces inside Russia keen to discourage ultra-nationalists like Dugin from berating the Kremlin for being, in their eyes, too soft on Ukraine.
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price stated on Monday that Washington “unequivocally” berates the targeting of civilians.
“We condemn the targeting of civilians, whether that’s in Kyiv, whether that’s in Bucha, whether that’s in Kharkiv, whether that’s in Kramatorsk, whether that’s in Mariupol, or whether that’s in Moscow. That principle applies around the world,” Price said.