Car explosion kills daughter of Russian known as ‘Putin’s mastermind’

MOSCOW (AP) — The daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often known as “Putin’s mastermind” was killed in a car bomb attack outside Moscow, authorities said Sunday.

The Moscow branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated that TV commentator Daria Dugina, 29, was killed by an explosive planted in the SUV she was driving on Saturday night.

There was no immediate claim of liability. But the bloodshed gave rise to suspicions that the intended target was her father, Alexander Dugin, a nationalist philosopher and writer.

Dugin is a prominent proponent of the “Russian World” concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes traditional values, the restoration of Russia’s power, and the unity of all ethnic Russians in the world. He is also a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine.

The explosion took place when his daughter was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with him. Russian media quoted witnesses as saying the SUV belonged to Dugin and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another vehicle.

The car bombing, which is unusual in Moscow, is likely to exacerbate tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, the pro-Moscow region that is a focus of Russia’s fighting in Ukraine, blamed the blast on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime who are trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Ukraine’s involvement, saying: “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.”

Political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Putin, called the attack “an act of intimidation” aimed at Kremlin loyalists.

For them, he said, “it is a symbolic act, which shows that the hostilities have been confidently transferred to the territory of Russia, which means that it is no longer an abstract war that is seen on television,” he said. “This is already happening in Russia. Not only is Crimea being bombed, but terrorist attacks are already taking place in the Moscow region.”

While Dugin’s exact ties to Putin are unclear, the Kremlin often echoes the rhetoric of his writings and appearances on Russian state television. He helped popularize the “Novorossiya” or “New Russia” concept that Russia used to justify its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

He promotes Russia as a country of piety, traditional values ​​and authoritarian leadership, and disdains liberal Western values.

His daughter expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist Tsargrad TV channel, where Dugin had served as editor-in-chief.

Dugina herself was sanctioned by the United States in March for her work as editor-in-chief of United World International, a website the US described as a source of disinformation. The sanctions announcement cited a United World article from this year that claimed Ukraine would “perish” if admitted to NATO.

In an appearance on Russian television on Thursday, Dugina said: “The people of the West are living in a dream, in a dream that has given them global hegemony.” He called America “a zombie society” in which people opposed Russia but couldn’t find it on a map.

Dugina, “like his father, has always been at the forefront of the confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday.

An unknown Russian group, the National Republican Army, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday, according to a former Russian lawmaker, Ilya Ponomarev. The AP was unable to verify the existence of the group. Ponomarev, who left Russia after voting against its annexation of Crimea in 2014, made the statement on Ukrainian television.

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