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Daughter of Putin ally killed by car bomb

August 21, 2022

Authorities are investigating the death of Daria Dugina, whose father has been called Putin's "brain." The car she was driving exploded, her father may have been the target.

A close-up of Alexandr Dugin, taken during a 2014 interview
Russian ultra-nationalist Alexandr Dugin is believed to hold sway over many Kremlin lawmakers, including Putin himselfImage: Heikki Saukkomaa/picture alliance/dpa

The daughter of ultra-nationalist Putin ally Alexander Dugin was killed by a car bomb near Moscow overnight.

Daria Dugina died after a suspected explosive device on the car she was driving detonated, investigators form the Moscow region said in a statement.

TV footage showed investigators collecting debris from the roadside where the explosion happened. They have opened a murder case and are considering "all versions" of events.

A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denied any responsibility for the incident.

What happened?

Dugina's car exploded on Saturday evening as she drove home from a cultural festival that she had attended with her father.

"This was the father's vehicle. Darya [normally drove] another car but she took his car today, while Alexander went in a different way," Andrey Krasnov, Dugin's friend and the head of the Russian Horizon social movement, told Russia's state-owned TASS news agency.

"He returned, he was at the site of the tragedy. As far as I understand, Alexander or probably they together were the target."

Russian investigators at the scene where Daria Dugina's car exploded, August 21, 2022.
Investigators spent Sunday morning collecting debris from the site of the explosionImage: Investigative Committee of Russia via REUTERS

Who is Alexander Dugin?

Alexander Dugin is an ultra-nationalist ideologue who is seen as a key architect behind the current worldview of top Kremlin lawmakers.

He is also seen as having influence over President Vladimir Putin himself — even being called "Putin's brain" by Western media — but some Russia watchers have downplayed Dugin's influence in recent months.

The prolific political author has long advocated for a new Russian empire, and was an ardent supporter of the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian authorities described his 29-year-old daughter as a political expert in her own right. She recently appeared on state TV to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

"Dasha, like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West," nationalist TV station Tsargrad said on Sunday.

Both father and daughter are the subject of American and British sanctions.

Ukraine denies responsibility

On Sunday, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak denied any involvement with the explosion.

"Ukraine surely doesn't have anything to do with yesterday's explosion because we're not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state," Podolyak said on national television.

Some, like former Putin advisor Sergei Markov and Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic, have nevertheless blamed the incident on Ukraine.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Telegram the "Ukrainian theory" had not yet been confirmed, but it would amount to "state terrorism" if proven true.

zc/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)