Car explosion kills daughter of Russian man known as 'Putin's brain'

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

The Moscow branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee said preliminary information indicated that 29-year-old television commentator Daria Dugina was killed by an explosive planted in the SUV she was driving on Saturday night.

There is no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bloodshed raised suspicions that her father, Alexander Dugin, a nationalist philosopher and writer, was the intended target.

Dugin is a prominent advocate 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 around the world. He is also a fierce supporter of sending Russian troops to Ukraine.

The explosion occurred when his daughter was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with him. Some 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 blatant act of violence, unusual for Moscow, is likely to exacerbate tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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

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

Analyst Sergei Markov, a former adviser to Putin, told Russia’s state news agency RIA-Novosti that Dugin, not his daughter, was likely the intended target and said: “It is quite obvious that the most likely suspects are Ukrainian military intelligence and Ukrainian Security Service.”

While Dugin’s exact ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin are unclear, the Kremlin has often repeated rhetoric from his writings and appearances on Russian state television. He helped popularize the concept of “Novorossiya,” or New Russia, which Russia used to justify its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea 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 shares similar views and appears as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, where Dugin was 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 this year that claimed Ukraine would “perish” if it were admitted to NATO.

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

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