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Murder in Moscow: The murky politics behind a political killing


There seems little doubt that the slaying in Moscow of right-wing, pro-war activist Daria Dugina was fallout from the Ukraine war, designed to create a stir among the Russian public. But there are divergent theories over who planted the car bomb that killed her and why.

She was a publicist and TV personality in her own right, but the true target was more likely her father, ultranationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin. He is the author of the “Eurasianist” ideology, which seeks to reconstitute the Russian Empire capable of challenging the West.

Why We Wrote This

The pro-war activist slain in a car bomb in Moscow likely was targeted as a Kremlin proxy. But for most Russians, the unknowns surrounding her killing may have clouded any political message.

Russia’s FSB security service blamed a Ukrainian agent for the killing, naming the suspect and detailing her movements with remarkable speed and precision, considering its response to many other high-profile political killings.

Ukraine denies any involvement. Some suggest an FSB “false flag” attack, aimed at justifying an escalation of the war against Ukraine. A former Russian parliamentarian now in exile in Kyiv claimed the hit was carried out by indigenous Russian anti-Kremlin partisans.

“I would take all these explanations being offered with a lot of skepticism,” says Nikolai Petrov, a Russian affairs expert with Chatham House in London. “They all seem badly flawed. They are tailored mainly to be ammunition in the information war that’s going on, rather than honest attempts to inform people.”

MOSCOW

The funeral in Moscow Tuesday for Daria Dugina, the right-wing, pro-war activist who was killed in a car bombing Saturday, attracted hundreds of grim-faced mourners.

Yet it seemed almost palpably overshadowed by anxieties over the course of Russia’s 6-month-old war in Ukraine and the public’s staying power as the costs continue to mount.

There seems little doubt that the slaying of Ms. Dugina was in some manner fallout from the war, though there are several divergent theories over who planted the car bomb that killed her and why.

Why We Wrote This

The pro-war activist slain in a car bomb in Moscow likely was targeted as a Kremlin proxy. But for most Russians, the unknowns surrounding her killing may have clouded any political message.

She was a prominent publicist and TV personality in her own right, and recently an enthusiastic promoter of the war. But the true target was more likely her father, ultranationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, a fringe figure on Russia’s political right and a sometime critic of President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Dugin was meant to be in the car with his daughter that night, but changed his mind at the last moment.

Mr. Dugin is the author of the “Eurasianist” ideology, which offers a rationale for the reconstitution of the Russian Empire by gathering together the Russian-speaking lands of Europe and Asia, and at their core, Russia, to create a superpower capable of challenging the West. The congruence between his philosophy and the course of events in recent years led many observers in the West to assume he must have a strong connection with Mr. Putin – even acting as his ideological guide – which perhaps explains the massive coverage his daughter’s assassination has received in Western media.



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