Russia Investigates Death Of Putin Ally's Daughter In Ukraine Blast

Authorities in Russia said on Sunday that the adult daughter of a renowned Russian ultranationalist whose writings provided the ideological framework for President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was killed in a vehicle bombing.

Authorities said a murder probe had been initiated into the death of Daria Dugina, whose Toyota Land Cruiser exploded on a highway 20 miles west of Moscow, setting fire to the vehicle and dispersing its parts across the road. Those in the know were able to determine that she was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a vocal proponent of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, whose automobile she was driving.

No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack. Some of Mr. Dugin’s friends and colleagues, according to Russian media, think he rather than his daughter was the intended victim.

An official from Ukraine denied any complicity on their part. War has been going on for nearly six months, but pro-Kremlin media and politicians were quick to blame Ukraine and call for retaliation, adding new uncertainty to the conflict.

Investigators in Russia concluded that the attack was “a premeditated crime” since an explosive device was positioned under the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Investigators in Russia concluded that the attack was "a premeditated crime" since an explosive device was positioned under the driver's side of the vehicle.

The relationship between Mr. Dugin and Mr. Putin is murky and, according to some experts on the Kremlin, sometimes overblown, but Mr. Dugin is a self-educated political philosopher who is frequently regarded as “Putin’s brain.” Mr. Dugin, meanwhile, has long been one of the most outspoken advocates of the idea of an imperial Russia leading a “Eurasian” culture at war with the West.

This 29-year-old journalist and broadcaster shared the hawkish mindset of her father and was sanctioned by the United States and the United Kingdom for spreading false information about Ukraine.

The Russian Investigative Committee (the country’s equivalent of the FBI) released a statement saying that Ms. Dugina had died at the scene of the incident in the posh Odintsovo district on the outskirts of Moscow. Photos and videos of a burning car and a guy who appeared to be Mr. Dugin walking back and forth while clutching his hands to his head were widely shared on Russian social media. These pictures could not be confirmed right away.

Conservative author and commentator Zakhar Prilepin claimed in a post on his Telegram channel that Mr. Dugin and his daughter both attended a nationalist celebration on Saturday but left in separate vehicles. The festival was said to have had average security by Russian official media. According to an unnamed law enforcement source quoted by the state-run news service Tass, there were no security checks at the entrance to the parking area where Ms. Dugina’s automobile had been parked.

The incident occurred at a time when the Kremlin was under increasing scrutiny for its war effort in Ukraine and why it was not doing more to prevent assaults further behind the battle lines. Famous war fans, already infuriated by recent Ukrainian sabotage attacks in Crimea, rushed to social media to accuse the country of being responsible for Ms. Dugina’s death.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an assistant to Ukraine’s president, said on Sunday morning television, “Ukraine obviously had nothing to do with yesterday’s explosion.” In contrast to the Russian Federation, we are not a criminal state, let alone a terrorist one.

A Russia-backed separatist leader in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk area, Denis Pushilin, blamed “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime” via the Telegram social network for the car bombing.

Speaking for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria V. Zakharova refrained from directly blaming Ukraine. She claimed on Telegram that if Ukraine was to blame, “then we have to be talking about a policy of state terrorism being accomplished by the Kyiv administration.”

The investigation’s findings are awaited, she wrote.

It was still unclear how or if Mr. Putin would react to Ms. Dugina’s death, but the calls for vengeance showed how the most ardent advocates of the Ukrainian invasion could become inconvenient partners for the Kremlin, especially if the Russian leader hoped to prevent an escalation of the war.

Russian political scholar Marat Guelman, now living in Montenegro, counseled the Kremlin in Mr. Putin’s early years in power. “For the Kremlin, any ideologized people can be both useful and harmful,” he said. You can put them to use right now. However, they will eventually become a threat.