Car blast kills daughter of Russian known as ‘Putin’s brain’

MOSCOW — The daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed in a car bomb attack on the outskirts of Moscow, authorities said on Sunday.

The Moscow branch of the Russian Commission of Inquiry said preliminary information indicated that 29-year-old TV commentator Daria Dugina was killed Saturday night by an explosive device placed in the SUV she was driving.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. 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 concept of ‘Russian world’, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasizes traditional values, the restoration of Russian power and the unity of all ethnic Russians around the world. He is also a staunch supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to send troops to Ukraine.

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

The car bombings, unusual for Moscow, are likely to exacerbate tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist People’s Republic of Donetsk, the pro-Moscow region at the center of Russia’s fighting in Ukraine, blamed the detonation on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, who tried to kill Alexander Dugin”.

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

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

For them, he said, “this is a symbolic act, showing that hostilities have been transferred with confidence to the territory of Russia, meaning that this is no longer an abstract war that you see on TV,” he said. “This has already happened in Russia. Not only is Crimea being bombed, but terrorist attacks are already being carried out in the Moscow region.”

While Dugin’s exact links to Putin are unclear, the Kremlin regularly repeats rhetoric from his writings and appearances on Russian state television. He helped popularize the “Novorossiya” or “New Russia” concept that Russia used to justify the 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 despises Western liberal values.

His daughter held similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, 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 described by the US as a source of disinformation. The sanctions announcement this year cited a United World article claiming that Ukraine would “perish” if admitted to NATO.

In an appearance on Russian television last Thursday, Dugina said: “People in the West are living in a dream, in a dream given to them by global hegemony.” She called America “a zombie society” in which people were against Russia but couldn’t find it on a map.

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

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

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