Russia uses Darya Dugina’s funeral to justify invasion of Ukraine

The daughter of Alexander Dugin, one of Russia’s most prominent nationalist ideologues, has been hailed as a martyr by the country’s top politicians

A photograph of Darya Dugina at her funeral in Moscow on Tuesday.
A photograph of Darya Dugina at her funeral in Moscow on Tuesday.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (AFP)

The funeral for Darya Dugina, the daughter of Russian ideologue Aleksandr Dugin, who was killed in a car bomb last Saturday, has been used to justify Russia’s war against Ukraine. “Dad, I feel the war in me, I feel like a heroine. I want [to be] with my country, with my people; I want to be on the side of the forces of light.” That’s what the 29-year-old said before she died, according to Dugin, who spoke at the funeral, in his first public appearance since the death of his daughter.

The Russian investigation into the bombing has blamed the attack on Ukraine, and also accused Estonia, a member of the European Union, of harboring terrorists.

During Tuesday’s funeral, all attention fell on Dugin. “She died for the people! For Russia, for the front!” he said, with a broken voice. The 60-year-old ultranationalist said that his daughter had paid the “highest price” for her beliefs, a price that could only be justified by Russia’s “victory” over Ukraine. “If her tragic death has touched someone, she would have asked them to defend sacred [Russian] Orthodoxy, the people and the Fatherland,” said Dugin, dressed in black and visibly distressed.

Dugin, who cofounded the National Bolshevik Party in the 1990s, and has influenced the most radical wing of the Kremlin, extolled his daughter’s warlike spirit. On the day of her murder, he said he had spoken to her about “God’s fight against his enemies.”

Daria Dugina and her father, Alexander Dugin, at the Tradition festival on Saturday.
Daria Dugina and her father, Alexander Dugin, at the Tradition festival on Saturday.

The funeral was attended by Konstantin Malofeev, the owner of the Tsargrad TV, a pro-Kremlin, Christian Orthodox channel, where Dugin briefly worked as chief editor. In 2014, Malofeev was sanctioned by the West for financing pro-Russian separatist groups in Donbas. “The people fighting against us do not understand that the Russian people is not just made up of those who are alive now. But is made up of those who lived before us and will live afterwards. And we will become stronger with the blood of our martyrs,” he said during the tributes to Dugina. “And thanks to the untimely end of our dear beloved Dasha (Darya) we will definitely be victorious in this war,” he said.

Sergey Neverov, deputy chairman of the State Duma and close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also spoke at the ceremony. “I have no doubt that not only the executors, but also the organizers [of Dugina’s death] will pay in full. The path of light led by Daria unites us even more for the liberation of Russian cities in the fight against fascism and that hateful regime.”

President Putin posthumously awarded Dugina the Order of Courage “for courage and dedication demonstrated while performing her professional duties.” The 29-yearold, who worked as a political scientist and journalist, accused the West of staging the Bucha massacre in Ukraine, in line with her father’s radical views.

Dugin has 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,” he said in a video conference in 2014, the same year Russia annexed Crimea and started the war in Donbas.

In another of speech at the funeral, Leonid Slutsky, the leader of the right-wing populist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia party, said: “One country, one president, one victory! And to Dasha, the kingdom of heaven!” His party, however, cut this final line from the video of his speech, given its resemblance to the Nazi Germany slogan: ‘One people, one Reich, one Führer.”

Dugina’s death threatens to further complicate possible negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. “It will be difficult to set up negotiations between Russia and Ukraine after Dugina’s murder,” said Slutsky at the funeral, who also issued a warning to Estonia. “I am now addressing every Estonian, there are murderers among you.” “Today, invisible killers who have the same name as us, who also speak Russian, kill our children and not only on the frontline. It is our responsibility to make sure that something so monstrous does not happen again,” he continued.

The attack has also escalated tensions between the US and Russia, prompting the US embassy in Kyiv to issue a new security alert. “The US Embassy urges US citizens to depart Ukraine now using privately available ground transportation options if it is safe to do so,” the warning said. On August 24, Ukraine celebrates its independence from the Soviet Union, and there are concerns Russia could use the date – which also marks sixth months since the beginning of the war – to intensify its offensive.

Meanwhile, Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has criticized the United States for not condemning Ukraine for its alleged attack on Dugina. “Washington has no moral (or legal) right to judge human rights in faraway places because it does not comment on the murder of a journalist by someone so important to them,” she said in a message on Telegram.

On Monday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) charged Ukrainian citizen Natalya Vovk of carrying out the bombing. According to the Kremlin, the alleged member of Ukraine’s special services drove into Russia with her 12-year-old daughter and rented an apartment in the building where Dugina lived. The agency said she escaped to Estonia after the killing. Russian authorities released a video showing the alleged assailant near the victim’s home. But security cameras at the “Tradition” festival that Dugina attended with her father, before the attack, were not working.

Ukraine has denied any involvement in the bombing, while Estonia has also spoken out against Russia’s allegations. “We regard this as one instance of provocation in a very long line of provocations by the Russian Federation, and we have nothing more to say about it at the moment,” said Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu.

Relations with Estonia have been frayed since the Baltic nation decided to ban Russians with a Schengen visa granted by Estonia from entering the country as of August 18. The new rules include exceptions for Russians with a long-term Estonian visa, diplomats and Russian citizens with visa issued from another EU country. Estonia is part of the EU bloc that is calling for Russians to be banned from entering the European Union. This measure is opposed by Germany, France and EU states that receive many Russian tourists, such as Greece and Cyprus.

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