Who killed Darya Dugina?

Source: Hot Air

“Who killed her?” is the first question. The next question is “Did they intend to?”

Dugina was a minor Russian fascist propagandist, sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury earlier this year for insisting that Ukraine must “perish” if it joins NATO. More recently she was heard claiming that Russia’s many war crimes in Bucha must have been Ukrainian false-flags aimed at capitalizing on the similarity between the town’s name and the English word “butcher.”

Nice lady.

Last night, in a suburb of Moscow, her car exploded as she left a nationalist event.

The dazed bearded man with his hands behind his head is her father, Alexander Dugin, who was also at the event. He’s the most influential fascist “intellectual” in the country, far more prominent than Darya. Now and again you’ll catch alt-right chuds in the U.S. promoting his work on social media because his contempt for western liberalism reflects their own. Read Cathy Young’s profile of him from April to get a sense of the sheer weirdness of his thinking, but it suffices for our purposes to say that he’s an outspoken advocate for re-creating the Russian empire through force. It’s hard for nationalists there to accept the fact that their nation is in steep decline and destined to become a vassal of China’s. Dugin helps them cope by concocting fantasies that they can Make Russia Great Again if only they’re willing to impose their will militarily on their neighbors. Beginning, of course, with Ukraine.

The misery of the war they championed may have come home to the Dugin family last night. It’s Alexander, not Darya, who appears to have been the target:

Dugina, 29, was driving her father’s car from a festival they both attended when the blast occurred, engulfing the car in flames, Dugin’s friend Andrey Krasnov told the state-run media outlet Tass. Krasnov said she “was driving another car but she took his car today.” He said he believed her father was the target of an attack, “or maybe the two of them.”

“The car caught fire immediately [following the explosion]. She lost control, because she was driving at speed, and flew to the opposite side of the road,” Krasnov told Tass, describing it as a “very grave event.”

This morning Russian nationalists are demanding missile strikes on Kiev as retaliation. Last night, citing the bombing, the foreign ministry accused Zelensky’s government of “a policy of state terrorism,” as if Russia’s military hasn’t spent the last six months raping its way across the countryside in Ukraine and shelling every civilian target in its field of vision.

Anyway: Whodunnit?

One possibility is that it was a domestic enemy of Alexander or Darya. The crowd the Dugins run with in Russia includes some of the most ruthlessly vile creatures on Earth, precisely the sort of people who might settle a grudge by sticking a bomb under the driver’s seat of someone’s car. If you’re going to be mobbed up with Russian government officials and nationalist goons, you might experience an explosion or two if you get on the wrong side of one of them. The war provides convenient cover for the killer: Since everyone assumes this was a Ukrainian hit targeting one of their chief antagonists, a perpetrator closer to home might expect to go overlooked.

Another possibility is that it was a Russian false flag, although I’m skeptical of that one. If Putin is looking for an excuse to do something even more savage than usual in Ukraine, killing a prominent nationalist like Dugin or his daughter and pinning it on Zelensky’s security services is one way to justify it. But if he wanted to cook up a provocation somewhere to blame on Ukraine, it seems unlikely that he’d do it in the shadow of his own capital, no? That would mean that the Ukrainians were capable of infiltrating Russia and operating right under the noses of the FSB, nearly assassinating a prominent figure who’s been described as “Putin’s brain” because of his influence in nationalist thinking. That’s a bad look for the Kremlin, especially at a moment when Russians are already nervous that Vladimir the Strong can’t protect Russian territory anymore from Ukrainian attacks.

[A]s images of antiaircraft fire streaking through the blue Crimean sky ricocheted through social media, the visceral reality of war was becoming more and more apparent to Russians — many of whom have rallied behind the Kremlin’s line, hammered home in state media, that the “special military operation” to save Ukraine from Nazi domination is going smoothly and according to plan.

“People are beginning to feel that the war is coming to them,” Andrei Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research organization close to the Russian government, said in a phone interview. “I think this is serious.”…

Russia continues to retain military superiority, and the recent strikes in Crimea haven’t resulted in territorial gains for Ukraine. But they nevertheless appear to have dealt a psychological blow to Russia, undercutting the previous perception of Russian invincibility in a peninsula that exerts a strong hold on the Russian psyche.

I’ve analogized the recent Ukrainian attacks in Crimea to the Doolittle Raid for just that reason, that they’re fundamentally a psy op aimed at spooking the enemy by showing them that they’re less secure than they thought. In that context, how likely is it that Putin and the Kremlin would want to reinforce that message by demonstrating that even a figure of Dugin’s stature is no longer safe in a suburb of Moscow?

The last possibility, of course, is that the Ukrainians really did do this. For what it’s worth, one of Zelensky’s advisors denied responsibility this morning in unusually forceful terms: “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.” Would they go so far as to concede that the bombing was “criminal” and a “terrorist” attack if they were behind it, knowing that their culpability might eventually leak? On the other hand, a policy of assassinating civilians — even degenerate fascists like Dugin who laid the intellectual groundwork for the war — would be so toxic to Ukraine’s western patrons that Zelensky’s team wouldn’t dare condone the bombing under any circumstances. They have no choice but to denounce it without qualification, even if they’re behind it.

Exit question: Whodunnit? It’s hard to believe the FSB wouldn’t have sniffed out Ukrainian saboteurs operating in and around Moscow as they plotted to kill a high-value target. But then again, the FSB ain’t what it used to be.