The brutal murder of a Russian nationalist feeds hypotheses and concerns about an uprising in Ukraine.


22 August 2022, 1:07 UTC | Updated: 22 August 2022, 2:05 UTC

The weekend’s heinous murder of the daughter of a well-known Russian ultranationalist has spawned a variety of ideas about the perpetrators and concerns that it could escalate Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine.

These worries were increased on Monday when the Russian FSB security force claimed to have solved the issue quickly and accused the Ukrainian secret services of putting the vehicle bomb outside Moscow late on Saturday that murdered Daria Dugina.

It provided no concrete support for the assertion, which Kyiv brushed off as Kremlin propaganda.
“Ukraine has denied playing any part, and analysts have expressed skepticism that it would.

The motive for what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a disgusting, brutal crime has been the subject of much speculation, although most hypotheses concur that her father, Alexander Dugin, an ardent war supporter and ideologue frequently referred to as Putin’s brain, was the more likely suspect.

NBC News examines Dugin’s identity and possible repercussions of his daughter’s passing.

The 60-year-old ultranationalist, philosopher, writer, and ardent imperialist Alexander Dugin has pushed for the restoration of the Russian Empire. Additionally, he has fervently backed Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dugin is not connected to the Kremlin in any way. He and his daughter have both received sanctions from the US for their destabilizing activities in Ukraine.

There is little evidence that he had significant impact over the Russian leader’s thinking or his foreign policy, analysts told NBC News, despite the fact that he has frequently been referred to as Putin’s brain.

Keir Giles, a Russia expert and senior consultant fellow at the London think tank Chatham House, claims that while Dugin has espoused popular nationalistic notions about the nature of Russian power and how it should be exercised, he was not the fundamental inspiration for them.

Even if Dugin had not existed, President Putin would have agreed with this viewpoint, according to Giles.

Daria Dungins, who also goes by the alias Platonova, has expressed opinions that are similar to those of her father and is a fervent supporter of the conflict in Ukraine.

The 29-year-old Dugina has made an appearance as a pundit on Russian state TV, despite being much less well-known than her father. In one of her final appearances, which aired last week on Channel One, she bemoaned what she called the West’s eagerness to go to war with Russia, calling it a zombie civilization.

According to the U.S. Treasury, which sanctioned her in March, Dugina served as the website’s chief editor for United World International, which implied that Ukraine would perish if it joined NATO.

Dugina was reportedly slain while traveling home from the Tradition festival, a celebration of Russian culture that she attended with her father and at which he spoke.

Putin lauded Dugina and denounced her murder in a letter to her parents and posted to the Kremlin’s website Monday, but he did not place responsibility.

Daria Dugina, a gifted individual with a genuine Russian heart that was kind, loving, sensitive, and open, was put to death by a heinous, terrible act, he added. She faithfully served the people and the Fatherland as a journalist, scientist, philosopher, and war reporter, demonstrating in action what it means to be a Russian patriot.


The incident was planned and carried out by Ukrainian special services, according to a statement made by Russia’s FSB security service on Monday. According to the report, the citizen escaped to Estonia following the explosion after traveling to Russia a month earlier with her daughter, who is 12 years old.

Given that the Kremlin has strong control over the media and a history of using disinformation to achieve its objectives both at home and abroad, it provided no publicly available proof to back up the charge, which was met with skepticism by Western commentators.

Given his body of work and renown, Dugin’s associates informed Russian state media that her father was probably the intended target. However, information released by the FSB on Monday suggests Dugina may have been the target, and not her father.

Prominent Kremlin propagandists and allies assigned Ukraine the responsibility for Dugina’s death almost immediately after it occurred.

Denis Pushilin, the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic’s leader and a supporter of Russia, blamed the Ukrainian regime’s terrorists in an blamed while Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said that if his claim were accurate, we should discuss the Kyiv regime’s practice of state terrorism.

The accusations have not been verified by NBC News.

denied Ukrainian involvement, says Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, adding that, unlike Russia, Ukraine is not a lawless nation. He speculated that it might be the outcome of an internal conflict. The FSB described Podolyak dismissed‘s assertions that a Ukrainian national committed the attack as originating from “a fantasy world.”

Experts shared the same skepticism.

The perpetrators are either those who anticipate Putin taking additional aggressive measures against Ukraine or those who wish to ignite more draconian internal persecution. Speaking of the Kremlin’s campaign on internal dissent was Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace based in Moscow.

That is, it’s not the Ukrainians at all, but rather a member of the Russian special forces, he said before the FSB made its accusation.

According to a former Russian politician, a previously unknown organization named the National Republican Army (NRA) unexpectedly emerged to take credit for the bombing on Sunday.

Ilya Ponomarev, an exiled member of the Russian opposition, read a message he said came from the group on Ukrainian television. It referred to Putin as a tyrant whose government ought to be overthrown.

NBC News contacted Ponomarev for comment after being unable to independently confirm the group’s existence or whether it was responsible for Dugina’s passing.

Giles described the group’s sudden appearance as “deeply suspicious,” arguing that it is far more likely that Dugina’s death was the result of an intrigue within Russia, possibly even something as mundane as a business dispute, similar to those that caused similar incidents in the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse.


Due to the fact that Ukraine’s independence day, August 24, falls on the same day as the six-month anniversary of the war, Ukraine is preparing for a possible Russian escalation this week.

Additionally, it follows on the heels of escalating Ukrainian attacks that were perceived as a strategic and symbolic setback to Putin’s military effort because they were made far behind Russian defense lines, including in the occupied Crimea.

While Ukraine has been attempting to launch a counteroffensive against regions Russian forces control in the country’s south, Russia gained gains in the eastern Donbas region during the course of the summer but appears to have seen its offensive there stagnate.

According to Giles, it would be against Ukraine’s intents to murder Dugina or intend to murder her father in such a visible and terrible fashion. In this fight, Ukraine has a great desire to be recognized as the side that is doing the right thing by not using Russia’s own tactics, he said.

Whatever is behind “it,” Giles continued, “it does provide Russia a justification to conduct any kind of reaction measures, whether domestically or against Ukraine.”
Journalist Yuliya Talmazan lives in London.