The daughter of a Russian ideologue who is one of the most prominent supporters of president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine died in a car bombing outside Moscow on Saturday night.
Russian investigators said Daria Dugina, a nationalist journalist and political analyst, died after the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving exploded outside Odintsovo, a suburb about 20km west of Moscow.
The bomb was placed under the car on the driver’s side and killed Dugina on the spot, investigators added, indicating “the crime was planned in advance on [someone’s] orders”.
The attack came after Ukraine appeared to mount a series of increasingly daring attacks in Russia-seized territory and hundreds of miles behind the front line in mainland Russia itself in recent weeks.
The car belonged to her father Alexander Dugin, whom she had accompanied while he gave a lecture at a festival outside the capital earlier on Saturday. The far-right philosopher had planned to travel with her after the lecture but decided to change cars, Andrei Krasnov, a friend of Dugina, told state newswire Tass.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Kyiv was involved in the attack. “Ukraine has absolutely nothing to do with this, because we are not a criminal state like Russia, or a terrorist one at that,” Podolyak told Ukrainian television. Dugin’s friends and prominent supporters of the war called for Russia to retaliate against Kyiv.
“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.
112, a news channel on social media app Telegram, posted a video of Dugin standing on a road strewn with flaming debris, holding his head in his hands after apparently witnessing the explosion.
Dugina, 29, is the first high-profile supporter of Putin’s invasion to be killed in the environs of Moscow, where life has largely gone on as normal despite western sanctions aimed at sapping the Kremlin’s war effort.
“Daria’s despicable murder is a sign of the enemy’s cowardice and powerlessness. His death throes. He can’t fight honourably, so he kills the best of us,” said Konstantin Malofeyev, a tycoon who bankrolls a nationalist news channel where both Dugins previously worked. “The enemy will answer for this very soon.”
The elder Dugin founded the Eurasia movement, which advocates for a revanchist Russian imperialism to help Moscow assert greater control over its European and Asian hinterlands.
A former dissident philosopher in the Soviet era, Dugin’s writings found an audience among some hardline senior members in the security services, then appeared to provide inspiration for Putin’s decision to annex Crimea and start a slow-burning war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014.
Though Dugin’s influence over Putin was sometimes overstated — he lost his teaching position at Moscow’s main university and his appearances on state television were curtailed — the US and Canada sanctioned him in 2015 after his Eurasia movement recruited volunteers to fight in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Dugina, who worked alongside her father in the Eurasia movement, was sanctioned herself in March by the US and UK over her work running a Russian propaganda website. The UK described her as a “frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation” about the invasion.