Update1050ET: Ukraine is bracing for a likely escalation in Russian attacks following last night's killing of the daughter of Alexander Dugin - Darya Dugina - by what looked to be a car bomb as she as driving his car home from an event. Based on the details that emerged, many believe it was an assassination attempt on the prominent but deeply controversial Russian political commentator and philosopher himself.
Contrary to current exaggerated Western mainstream headlines referring to him as "Putin's brain" - there's no clear evidence that Dugin and Putin have ever even met (much less a photograph of the two together or in the same room, which we've yet to find), though the influence of Dugin's thought on certain Russian political circles is clear. He's long been central to developing the so-called 'Russian world' ideology, but his influence on actual Kremlin policy circles has been marginal at best especially since 2014, given he's been much more hawkish and maximalist when it comes to the Ukraine crisis, at times uncomfortably so for Russia's political leadership.
On Sunday, Russia's Investigative Committee said in an official statement that it has opened a murder investigation following a car bomb being detonated under Alexander Dugin's vehicle, which only his daughter Darya was driving at the time (eyewitnesses say he switched cars at the last minute when returning from an event).
According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving was ripped apart by a car bomb in the Moscow region, near the village of Bolshie Vyazemy, in a targeted killing by unknown entities:
"The investigation believes that the crime was planned in advance and is of a contract nature," the statement said, adding that investigators had "established that the explosive device was placed under the bottom of the car on the driver’s side."
Pro-Russian Donbass militia leaders, Denis Pushilin foremost among them, have called on fighters to quickly “avenge” Dugina’s death. At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is now warning his citizens that severe escalation looms.
And if before few Russians were aware of Dugin’s existence and his ideas, be sure that now everybody will know about him and many will follow him.— Maria Dubovikova (@politblogme) August 21, 2022
Warning of potential stepped-upf Russian attacks and the need for vigilance, Zelensky said in the hours following reports of the targeted hit:
"We should be conscious of the fact that this week Russia may try to do something particularly nasty," the Ukrainian leader said in his daily video address late on Saturday. “But Russia has done the same constantly each week throughout the past six months.”
Days ahead of Ukraine's independence day celebrations, some regional governors are also taking extra precautions, according to The Wall Street Journal:
In the northeastern Kharkiv region, part of which remains under Russian occupation, governor Oleh Synehubov announced a series of restrictions on movement this week including a 36-hour curfew beginning on the eve of Independence Day on Tuesday until early morning on Thursday.
"Please treat such steps with understanding and prepare to stay at home or in bomb shelters—this is our security," he wrote on the Telegram social-media platform. "We won’t give the enemy the chance for any provocations. On the day of our independence we will be particularly alert."
So far, President Putin has yet to officially react or weigh in on the car bombing which targeted civilians on Russian soil. While it's clear that Alexander Dugin is a deeply controversial and polarizing figure even within Russia, and much more so abroad, some pundits are pointing out that the hit could have been intended for Darya from the beginning. Little is known at this point regarding precise motives or who exactly was behind it, as the investigation continues.
Even before the Saturday night car bombing, both sides of the Ukraine war appear to be bracing for further escalation given the latest string of Ukrainian attacks deep inside Crimea, including the weekend UAV strike on Russia's Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.
America is now attacking Moscow via Ukraine.— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) August 21, 2022
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Update(2310ET): Russia's English language state RT News is confirming the death of Darya Dugina, the daughter of veteran Russian political commentator and Putin ally Alexander Dugin, in what appears to have been a targeted hit - possibly an attempt on her father Alexander's life. RT however is still calling the reports "preliminary" until government authorities confirm the identity of the deceased.
"The incident took place on a highway some 20 kilometers west of Moscow around 21:35 local time, with witnesses saying that the blast rocked the vehicle right in the middle of the road, scattering debris all around," according to new details in RT. "The crippled car, fully engulfed in flames, then crashed into a fence, according to photos and videos from the scene."
"Emergency services said one person was inside the car and was instantly killed by the blast and crash – a female whose body was reportedly recovered burned beyond recognition."
RT writes further: "Authorities have yet to confirm the identity of the victim, but multiple Russian Telegram channels and media sources reported that the victim was 30-year-old Darya Dugina (Platonova). Her father, Alexander Dugin, was spotted at the scene soon after the incident, visibly shocked, according to several videos circulating on social media."
Video purportedly shows Aleksandr Dugin at the scene of the blast. He was allegedly supposed to be in the vehicle but ended up taking another car: pic.twitter.com/sgRcJ8laqJ— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) August 20, 2022
While an official cause of the blast hasn't been identified as yet, there's widespread speculation it was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
There's also much speculation centered on the apparent bombing being a likely attempt on Alexander Dugin, with unconfirmed reports saying she had been driving his car and he was in another vehicle.
Today, the Head of the Presidential Administration in Ukraine, Andrey Yermak, said that, "Our task is to make sure that not only the current generation of Russians, but their children and grandchildren will pay". Eight hours later, Alexander Dugin's daughter Darya was killed. pic.twitter.com/tSNhsxTR7A— Russians With Attitude (@RWApodcast) August 20, 2022
According to The Daily Beast, citing local reports:
Alexander Dugin was meant to be in the vehicle his daughter was driving but had gotten in a different one at the last second, according to Pyotr Lundstrem, a Russian violinist quoted by the outlet.
Dugin had reportedly been following right behind his daughter and had watched as her car exploded. Photos shared by Baza appeared to show Dugin distraught at the scene, holding his head in both hands as he stood in front of the fiery wreckage.
Denis Pushilin, the Russian proxy leader of Ukraine's occupied Donetsk, angrily blamed “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime” for the blast, writing on Telegram that they had been “trying to liquidate Alexander Dugin” but “blew up his daughter.”
“In loving memory of Darya, she is a true Russian girl,” Pushilin wrote.
Pro-Kremlin Telegram channels and social media pages similarly blamed Ukraine for the explosion and called on Russians to “avenge” Dugina’s death.
This, along with recent attacks inside Crimea, could indeed mean greater escalation in the Ukraine war.
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The daughter of Alexander Dugin - a close ally and adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin - has reportedly been killed in what many are assuming was an assassination attempt meant for her father.
Darya Dugin was 'blown to pieces' near Moscow suburb of Bolshiye Vyazyomy, according to reports, which say that Alexander had originally planned to travel back with her from a festival before deciding to ride in a separate car, according to the Daily Mail and other outlets.
Wow, Alexander Dugin's daughter Darya has reportedly been killed in a car explosion. Her Land Cruiser Prado exploded near the village of Bolshiye Vyazyomy. According to preliminary reports, she died on the spot. pic.twitter.com/2dKOMtveIv— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) August 20, 2022
According to Russian's state-owned TASS, local law enforcement confirmed that a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado had blown up, but did not confirm the victim's identity - only that it was a female. A man identified by TASS as a Dugin associate said it was Darya, but there has been thus far no official confirmation.
Russian outlet Baza reports that the 29-year-old had been returning home from "Tradition" - a literature and music festival, when the blast occurred. She was reportedly driving for around 10 minutes before the detonation. The outlet also quoted Russian violinist Pyotr Lundstrem, who (and how would he know?) that Alexander was meant to be in the vehicle. Instead, he was reportedly following her car when it exploded.
Dugin is the former chief editor of the pro-Putin Tsargrad TV network, and has been often portrayed in Western media as being a 'mastermind' of the Ukraine invasion, as well as an intellectual / philosopher who's had a large influence in Russia's post-Soviet nationalism.
In an Instagram post, Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, called it an 'attack' by 'vile villains,' adding "The terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to eliminate Alexander Dugin, blew up his daughter... In a car. Blessed memory of Daria, she is a real Russian girl!"
"The tenacity of these Ukro-Reich morons is amazing. Everyone, if possible, needs to be home in the next hour," he added.
An alleged photo of the scene was posted to Telegram by "MOW!" Moscow News, with the caption (translated): "All that remains of the blown up car of the daughter of the famous public figure Alexander Dugin on the Mozhaisk highway in the Moscow region. The SUV of Darya Dugina detonated while driving, after which it caught fire."
Check back for updates...