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Russians at Daria Dugina memorial push for tougher action against Ukraine

Russians on Aug. 23 bade farewell to Daria Dugina, the daughter of the far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin. She died in a car-bomb attack in central Moscow. (Video: Reuters)

Russians on Tuesday bid farewell to Daria Dugina, daughter of far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin, as war hawks in Russia called for a tougher approach in the war against Ukraine, and the U.S. State Department warned of likely attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets and government institutions in coming days.

Dugina, a television commentator and staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin, died Saturday in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow, which the FSB, Russia’s security service, quickly blamed on Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have denied responsibility for the attack, attributing it to internal Russian affairs.

At a civil memorial, hundreds lined up and filed past Dugina’s casket, laying roses and carnations, in a darkened hall in the Ostankino state television center in Moscow A spotlight illuminated a black-and-white image of her face. Large funeral wreaths with red roses and white lilies lined the hall, along with more photographs of Dugina.

Official black cars with blue lights pulled up to the television center, heavily guarded by members of the national guard and riot police. Mourners had to pass through four metal detectors to enter the hall.

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Prominent politicians, celebrity state television anchors and other public figures spoke at the memorial, blaming Ukraine for the attack and calling for renewed efforts to defeat the country militarily. Putin sent a representative to convey his condolences. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent a message calling the killing “a vile and inhuman crime.”

“Her tragic departure is an irreplaceable loss for the thinking, patriotic part of our society,” Lavrov said.

Among the mourners was wealthy business executive Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who is under U.S. sanctions and is described by the State Department as the manager and financier of the Wagner mercenary group, which is fighting alongside Russia’s military in eastern Ukraine.

Dugin, an influential conservative Orthodox Christian figure, has called for years for a war against Ukraine. He developed the concept of a “Russian world,” in which neighboring Ukraine and Belarus were not sovereign nations but part of Russia. His nationalist ideology influenced Putin’s view that Ukraine could not be independent unless subjugated to Russia.

Dugina, who was chief editor of a Russian disinformation website and was under U.S. sanctions, had been outspoken in her support for Putin’s invasion.

Hard-line nationalists and other internal critics of the Russian military approach are clamoring for national military mobilization, a path the Kremlin has avoided because it would be deeply unpopular. Instead, top officials have tried to play down the war as a limited “special military operation” and to conceal the extent of casualties, now believed to run in the tens of thousands.

Fighting back tears at the memorial, Dugin said that his daughter died for Russia and that “this ultimate sacrifice, the highest price we pay, can be justified only by victory.”

He said she would not want Russians to glorify her but to “fight for our great country, defend our faith, holy Orthodoxy, love our Russian people, because she died for the people.”

“In our last conversation, she said: ‘Dad, I feel like a hero and a warrior. That is what I want to be. I don’t want any other fate. I want to be with my people, my country. I want to be on the side of the light,’ ” he said.

Lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, who was a member of the Russian delegation at failed peace talks with Ukraine, said Dugina’s death made it difficult to speak of such negotiations. He called the attack “a monstrous tragedy.”

“We are very well aware of the situation. Invisible people who speak the same language as we do are killing our children,” Slutsky said.

Russian business executive Konstantin Malofeyev, chairman of the right-wing Tsargrad television network, who is closely associated with Dugin, called Dugina “a warrior.”

“Because of her death, we will definitely win this war,” he said. “She wanted this. She lived for it.”

Putin on Monday posthumously awarded Dugina a state medal, the Order of Courage, which was presented to her father at the memorial.

Ukrainian officials have denied any involvement in Dugina’s killing. “We certainly had nothing to do with it,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Sunday on Ukrainian television. Ukrainian officials also distanced themselves from the killing in interviews with The Washington Post.

Andrii Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s chief directorate of military intelligence, previously told The Post that his agency would not comment on the killing. Still, Yusov noted that “the process of internal destruction of the ‘Russky Mir,’ or the 'Russian world,’ has begun,” and he predicted that “the Russian world will eat and devour itself from the inside.”

Annabelle Timsit and Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.