Darya Dugina: Who was behind the car bomb that killed daughter of Putin ally?

Russia has blamed the attack on Ukraine, but authorities in the country have denied all involvement in the bombing that killed the child of ultranationalist Alexander Dugin

In this handout photo, investigators work on the site of the explosion of a car driven by Daria Dugina outside Moscow.
Javier G. Cuesta

The death of Darya Dugina, the daughter of ultranationalist Russian ideologue and Vladimir Putin ally Alexander Dugin, has shocked Russia. The 29-year-old was killed Saturday night in a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow.

Her father Dugin long advocated the unification of Russian-speaking and other territories in a vast new Russian empire, including Ukraine. “I think you have to kill, and kill and kill and kill the Ukrainians. There is nothing more to say. As a professor, I think so,” said Dugin in a video conference in 2014, the same year Russia annexed Crimea and started the war in Donbas.

On Sunday, an unknown Russian group called the National Republican Army claimed responsibility for the car bomb, claiming in a statement that Putin “will be overthrown and destroyed.” Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of Russia’s State Duma who is now living in exile in Ukraine, said he believed the group was responsible for the attack, saying that is had committed “other partisan acts in Russia in recent months.”

Alexander Dugin y Daria Dugin en el Festival de la Tradición
Daria Dugina and her father, Alexander Dugin, at the Tradition festival on Saturday.

It is still unknown who was the target of the attack. Dugina was returning to Moscow after seeing her father talk at the “Tradition” festival, which is held in Zakharovo estate, southwest of Moscow. One of the musicians who took part in the event, violinist Pyotr Lundstrem, claimed on the instant messaging app Telegram that the 60-year-old philosopher and his daughter had planned to leave in the same car, but Dugin changed his mind at the last moment. “Who were they going to kill? Her? Or did they get the wrong car? Where did they put the bomb? A terrible tragedy,” Lundstrem wrote.

Russia’s investigative committee, the main federal investigating authority in Russia, said the bombing was “premeditated and of a contract nature.” “An explosive device was placed on the underside of the car on the driver’s side,” the committee said in a statement. “Darya Dugina, who was behind the wheel, died at the scene.”

Dugina was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser. The bomb exploded when she was near the town of Bolshie Viaziomy, about 40 kilometers from Moscow.

“We are waiting for the results of the investigation,” said Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a message on Telegram, which blamed the attack on Ukraine. “If the Ukrainian trace is confirmed, and this version was voiced by DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] head Denis Pushilin, and it must be verified by the competent authorities, then we are talking about a policy of state terrorism carried out by the Kiev regime,” she said.

“Russian media report that Darya Dugina, the daughter of fascist and Putin ideologue Alexander Dugin, has been killed in a car bombing. The main hypothesis: a homemade bomb, according to authorities. Dugina was a well known figure in the Kremlin’s orbit.”

Ukraine has rushed to deny the allegations. “Ukraine, of course, has nothing to do with this, because we are not a criminal state, which is the Russian Federation, and even less a terrorist state,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Well-known experts on Russia, such as Mark Galeotti and Sergey Radchenko, warned on social media that it is still too early to say who organized the attack. While Russia is blaming Ukraine and the National Republican Army has claimed responsibility for the bombing, experts say the blast may in fact be the result of an internal conflict. Russia’s ultranationalist movement has become a headache for the Kremlin due to its criticism of the government’s handling of the war against Ukraine. In one of his latest publications, Dugin demanded “structural and ideological changes” in the Russian government and complained that the offensive was being directed from “a regime of maximum comfort.”

“The family’s friends have no doubts: this is a terrorist attack committed by Western intelligence services through Ukrainian saboteurs,” said Konstantin Malofeev, the owner of Tsargrad TV, a pro-Kremlin, Christian Orthodox channel, where Dugin briefly worked as chief editor.

“Every ‘Trans-Ukrainian’ should be considered a potential terrorist. And no more ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ with public figures,” wrote journalist Volodymyr Kuznetsov.

The attack has shocked the political elite and Russia’s ultranationalism movement. “The fact that a blow was struck against Alexander Dugin suggests that our enemies fear the spiritual component of our struggle. This struggle is the most important thing,” said Russian Senator Andrei Klishas.

Regardless of who is to blame for the attack, the research center R. Politik warns that the murder of Dugina will have “very serious political consequences,” arguing conservatives in Russia “will demand a more radicalized leadership than what the president can offer.”

Who is Alexander Dugin?

In the 1990s, Dugin cofounded the National Bolshevik Party with the intellectual Eduard Limonov. He coined several ideas that have permeated Russian conservatism, for example, neo-Eurasianism, which considers Russia to be culturally closer to Asia than to Western Europe.

Dugin also put forward the idea of the so-called “Fourth Political Theory,” an ideology that seeks to supersede liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. It aims is to take the “good” elements of the political theories and create a “cultural phenomenon” based on community of language and religious belief.

Dugin has been a leading proponent of the irredentist project of Novorrosiya (New Russia), which entails the occupation of much of eastern Ukraine. To his disappointment, during the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, Russia did not enter with a full army and instead only offered indirect financial and military aid to the pro-Russian separatists. “If Putin does not send troops, it will be the end of Russia and at the same time the end of Putin,” Dugin wrote in 2014 in an online post.

Dugin entered the Western sanctions lists in 2014. His daughter, a political scientist loyal to his ideas, was added to the blacklist in 2022. One of his latest essays was presented last week at the Armiya-2022 military forum, in which he claimed that the Bucha massacre in March on the outskirts of Kiev was staged by the West to introduce into the collective imagination “the bloody crimes of Russians.”

More information

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS