Russia blamed Ukraine for a car explosion that killed the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a Russian nationalist and fervent ideological ally of President Vladimir Putin, prompting Dugin to issue a statement calling for military “victory” as vengeance — an exhortation that could lead to an escalation in the war.
Ukraine has denied involvement in the killing of Dugina, chief editor of a Russian disinformation website who was herself under U.S. sanctions. Kyiv also has warned about a spike in Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities ahead of the country’s Independence Day on Wednesday, which coincides with the six-month mark of the war.
Russia’s internal security service, the FSB, claimed in a statement to Russian media that the explosion Saturday near Moscow was orchestrated by “Ukrainian special services” and carried out by a Ukrainian woman who allegedly conducted weeks of surveillance before the bombing and then fled to Estonia with her daughter after Sunday’s killing.
The Washington Post could not verify the FSB’s claims. Ukraine has suggested that the killing may have been the result of internal tensions in Russia and ridiculed the FSB version of the events.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted Monday that “Russian propaganda lives in a fictional world.” On Sunday, he said Kyiv “certainly had nothing to do with” the car bombing.
“Because we’re not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation is, and moreover not a terrorist state,” he said.
Shortly after the FSB statement, Dugin echoed the FSB allegations in his first comments since the explosion. “The enemies of Russia meanly, stealthily killed her,” Dugin said in the statement, which also praised his daughter as a patriot and philosopher. “But we, our people, cannot be broken even by such unbearable blows. They wanted to crush our will with bloody terror against the best and most vulnerable of us. But they won’t.”
Dugin’s statement was issued in the form of a letter shared by Konstantin Malofeev, the owner of a nationalist, Christian Orthodox TV channel Tsargrad where Dugin is a chief editor, in which the ideologue said that Dugina’s death should “inspire” Russian soldiers to continue the fight in Ukraine.
Putin sent Dugin a letter of condolences saying that his daughter’s death was a result of “a vile, cruel crime,” according to the Kremlin, which published the text.
“A journalist, scientist, philosopher, war correspondent, she honestly served the people, the Fatherland, and through her actions she proved what it means to be a patriot of Russia,” Putin said in his condolence message.
Dugina, 29, was driving her father’s car from a festival outside Moscow that they both attended when the blast occurred, engulfing the car in flames. Some outside analysts and friends of the family suspect that Dugin, an ideologue who helped shape the Kremlin’s narrative about Ukraine, was the real target. Dugina had also strongly supported Putin’s war against Ukraine.
The FSB said the Ukrainian national and her daughter both attended the same festival and were renting an apartment in Moscow near where Dugina lived. Russian authorities later released video purportedly showing the alleged killer and child entering Russia by car, in a Mini Cooper, on July 23 and driving across various locations in Moscow.
The claim that the woman escaped to Estonia comes amid tensions between Moscow and Tallinn over the Estonian government’s recent announcement that it would remove hundreds of Soviet monuments and its move to deny entry to Russians with Estonia-issued Schengen visas.
A spokeswoman for the Estonian Foreign Ministry, Liisa Toots, said it was not appropriate to discuss whether the Ukrainian woman and her daughter identified by the FSB had entered the country from Russia.
“We can share information about the individuals entering or leaving Estonia only in cases prescribed by law,” Toots said in reply to questions sent via email. “Russian FSB’s accusation, which reached us through Kremlin’s propaganda channel, is not one of them.”
Russia’s Investigative Committee is looking into the explosion and has opened a murder case. It previously said early evidence pointed to “a murder for hire.”
In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Ned Price, noted Ukraine’s denial of any involvement and said the United States condemned all attacks on civilians.
“Ukraine has denied any involvement in the attack on this individual,” Price said. “We unequivocally condemn the targeting of civilians,” he said, adding that would be true in Moscow as much as in the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Bucha, Kharkiv and Mariupol, where civilians have died as a result of Russian military strikes.
“I have no doubt that the Russians will investigate this,” Price said. “I also have no doubt that the Russians will put forward certain conclusions. All I can say from here is that Ukraine has denied any involvement.”