Daughter of Russian nationalist known as ‘Putin’s brain’ killed in car blast

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The daughter of a Russian nationalist ideologist who is often referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed when her car exploded on the outskirts of Moscow, officials said Sunday.

The Investigative Committee branch for the Moscow region said the Saturday night blast was caused by a bomb planted in the SUV driven by Daria Dugina.

The 29-year-old was the daughter of political theorist Alexander Dugin, a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept and a vehement supporter of Russia’s sending of troops into Ukraine.

Dugin’s exact ties to President Vladimir Putin are unclear, but the Kremlin frequently echoes rhetoric from his writings and appearances on Russian state TV. He helped popularize the concept of “Novorossiya” (New Russia) that Russia used to justify the annexation of Crimea and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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He promotes Russia as a country of piety, traditional values and authoritarian leadership, and disdains Western liberal values.

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Dugina expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad.

She was sanctioned by the United States in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website that the U.S. described as a disinformation site. The sanctions announcement cited a UWI article this year that contended Ukraine would “perish” if it were admitted to NATO.

“Dasha, like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday, using the familiar form of her name.

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The explosion took place as Dugina was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with her father. Some Russian media reports cited witnesses as saying the vehicle belonged to her father and that he had decided at the last minute to travel in another car.

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The vivid and violent incident, unusual for Moscow, is likely to aggravate Russia-Ukraine animosity.

No suspects were immediately identified. But Denis Pushilin, president of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic that is a focus of Russia’s fighting in Ukraine, blamed it on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Ukrainian involvement, saying on national TV that “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.”

Analyst Sergei Markov, a former Putin adviser, told Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti that Alexander Dugin, not his daughter, likely was the intended target and said “it’s completely obvious that the most probable suspects are Ukrainian military intelligence and the Ukrainian Security Service.”

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