Russian hawks without evidence blame Kyiv for death of Darya Dugina and demand Kremlin response
The daughter of an ultranationalist Russian ideologue and ally of Vladimir Putin has been killed in a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow.
Darya Dugina, whose father is the Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin, died when the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving was ripped apart by a powerful explosion about 12 miles (20km) west of the capital near the village of Bolshiye Vyazemy at about 9.30pm local time (1930 BST), according to investigators.
Prominent Russian hawks without evidence quickly blamed Kyiv for the attack, calling it an assassination attempt and demanding the Kremlin respond by targeting government officials in Kyiv. “Decision-making centres!! Decision-making centres!!!” wrote Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the state-funded RT television station, reposting a call to bomb the headquarters of the Ukrainian SBU intelligence agency.
If the car bombing is tied to the war it would mark the first time since February that the violence unleashed on Ukraine has reached the Russian capital, touching the family of a Kremlin ally near one of Moscow’s most exclusive districts.
Kyiv strongly denied the allegations. “Ukraine has absolutely nothing to do with this, because we are not a criminal state like Russia, or a terrorist one at that,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in remarks broadcast on television.
The blast occurred shortly after Dugina left the “Tradition” cultural festival at an estate where her father had given a lecture. The two were expected to leave together but instead got in different cars, a friend said.
Five minutes later, a bomb exploded in the car Dugina was driving, killing her immediately.
Witnesses said debris was thrown all over the road as the car was engulfed in flames before crashing into a fence.
Investigators believed the bombing was “premeditated and of a contract nature,” said Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the investigative committee, the main federal investigating authority in Russia.
Andrey Krasnov, a friend of Dugina and the head of the Russian Horizon social movement, confirmed the reports, according to the news agency Tass.
He said the bomb could have been intended for her father.
“This was the father’s vehicle. Darya was driving another car but she took his car today, while Alexander went in a different way. He returned, he was at the site of the tragedy. As far as I understand, Alexander or probably they together were the target,” Krasnov said.
However, the independent Russian news agency Agentstvo reported that leaked government databases showed the car was registered to Darya and not her father.
Footage on social media appeared to show him at the scene in a state of distress.
The head of the self-proclaimed, Russian-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, wrote on his Telegram channel that Dugina had been killed and blamed the Ukrainian government.
“Vile villains! The terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to eliminate Alexander Dugin, blew up his daughter … In a car. Blessed memory of Daria, she is a real Russian girl!”
Investigators said they had opened a murder case and would be carrying out forensic examinations to try to determine what happened. They said they were considering “all versions” when it came to working out who was responsible.
Dugin is known for developing an extreme rightwing view of Russia’s place in the world. He has been described as a “Russian fascist” and is a well-known conspiracy theorist.
Some claim he helped shape the Russian president’s expansionist foreign policy. But the influence of Dugin over Putin remains a subject for speculation, with many insiders saying his sway on the Kremlin was minimal.
The Kremlin through state media nonetheless found uses for Dugin, sometimes adopting his aggressive ideology, while at other times using him to discredit calls for a more aggressive nationalism in politics.
Undeniably, however, his worldview of a clash of civilisations and his rejection of Ukrainian statehood appear to have gone mainstream in Russia, even if Dugin is still viewed as a man on the distant fringes of power.
Dugin and his daughter had been sanctioned by the UK and US for acting to destabilise Ukraine. In its filing, the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation called Dugina a “frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation in relation to Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine on various online platforms”.
The US Treasury sanctioned her as the chief editor for the website United World International, which it claimed was owned by the Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin.