August 24, 2022

Darya Dugina

Russia's Federal Security Service accused Ukraine's secret services on Monday of killing Darya Dugina, the daughter of an ultra-nationalist, in a car bomb attack near Moscow that President Vladimir Putin called ‘evil’. Dugina, whose father Alexander Dugin is a prominent ideologue, was killed on Saturday when a bomb blew up the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving… Ukraine, defending itself from what it says is an imperial-style war of conquest waged by Russia, denied involvement in the attack.” Reuters

Both sides are skeptical of Russian claims about Ukrainian involvement, and see the bombing as a sign of weakness within the Russian state:

“First, Dugin is far less important than some people are suggesting. He’s not ‘Putin’s brain.’ There is no evidence that Dugin has ever met Putin in person, much less offered him regular advice…

“Second, killing Dugin will likely have zero direct effect on Russia’s war against Ukraine. Staging such an attack in Putin’s backyard might boost Ukrainian morale a bit. But that seems like a lot of risk for the sake of eliminating someone who plays no actual role in the conduct of the war. Dugin, it is worth noting, has no government position; his only function is as a propagandist — and Russia is oversupplied with those…

“The Russian state — under Putin and before him — has a long history of manufacturing or manipulating events to suit its agenda. In 1999, then-Prime Minister Putin notoriously seized upon a series of bloody terrorist bombings in Moscow and the heartland to launch a new war against the rebellious Chechens, whom he blamed for the attacks; his hard-line response boosted his own power and his subsequent revival of the police state. To this day, however, the FSB has failed to provide an adequate explanation for a bomb that was discovered to have been planted by its own operatives… The Kremlin’s explanations can’t be trusted.”
Christian Caryl, Washington Post

“If we think about why would this be in Ukraine’s interest, I’m having a hard time seeing that story. If the Ukrainian secret services are capable of carrying out assassinations near Moscow, it’s not obvious to me why either Dugina or Dugin would be who they would go after. And the evidence that’s been put forward — such as it is — by the FSB doesn’t look particularly convincing at this point. So I think it’s more likely there’s some kind of internal Russian explanation for the murder.”
Brian Taylor, Vox

“Dugin has long been a gadfly for Putin. In 2014, Dugin was an enthusiastic supporter of the annexation of Crimea and the pro-Russian uprisings in Ukrainian cities of the Donbas… Dugin and other Russian nationalists were dismayed when the Kremlin rejected that plan in 2014. Putin refused to openly commit Russian troops to defend the Donbas, and instead pursued a policy of negotiating autonomy for Donbas within a sovereign Ukraine (the Minsk accords). Because of his criticism of Putin, Dugin was fired in July 2014 from his position as a professor at Moscow State University…

“Dugin welcomed the invasion of Ukraine, but along with other nationalists he complained that the war was not being pursued aggressively enough. Dugin and his acolytes want total war with Ukraine and with the West. As the war drags on, with no sign of a clear victory for Russia, Putin must be concerned about preserving political stability in the face of mounting economic problems… The possibility that Dugin was targeted by someone within the security agencies, to rid Putin of this troublesome critic, cannot be ruled out.”
Peter Rutland, CNN

“There are three potential explanations for the assassination of Darya Dugina, all of which intensify the Kremlin’s domestic crisis: a Ukrainian attack, a growing armed rebellion, or an internal power struggle. Kyiv has denied any involvement in the Moscow bombing, even though FSB accusations will actually elevate respect for the capacities of Ukrainian special forces and raise morale in the country in defiance of Russia…

“Regardless of the motives and actors, the Dugina assassination has crossed a line in Russia. Since the beginning of the war, the regime has tried to downplay the impact of its ‘special military operation’ on the country’s economy and society. But as citizens now realize that Moscow itself is not immune from bombings, the sense of fear and uncertainty will grow, and the Kremlin’s propaganda of success will become increasingly hollow. Moreover, attempts at full mobilization to expand the war may have the reverse effect by intensifying resistance against the regime.”
Janusz Bugajski, Washington Examiner

“Already, Russian nationalist tub-thumpers are calling for retaliation, but given that the Kremlin already seems to recognize no limits on its operations in Ukraine, it is unlikely it can or will do anything beyond the symbolic. A dead Dugin would have been a malleable martyr, an angry living one could prove a wild card. The man who once called for a Russia stretching ‘from Dublin to Vladivostok’ is unlikely to be assuaged and nationalists who are already dissatisfied with Putin — they don’t have a problem with him invading Ukraine, just with him doing it so very badly — will feel all the more reason to be angry…

“Whether it reflects a serious failure of the Russian security state or tensions and rivalries within it, it will convince the nationalists — who may be less numerous and visible than Putin’s liberal critics, but tend to be within the security services and have, to be blunt, the guns — that this is a regime that is not living up to its own rhetoric and may be weaker than it looks.”
Mark Galeotti, Spectator World

“The killing of Daria Dugina is bigger than a tempest in a teacup, but it does not change much of anything about Putin’s war in Ukraine. Possibly this is a prelude of an escalation toward more bombings and assassinations in Europe (which Russian agents have been carrying out for years and years), or a sign that Ukrainian intelligence is taking the fight to Moscow, or even a sign of infighting in Russian wacko-right-wing circles…

“In sum, it is a high-profile distraction created by the murder of a low-profile person, designed, in one way or another, to make a disproportionate splash and/or distract people from the actual fight. Support the Ukrainians and give them weapons to fight and wear down the Russian army. Don’t pay this bombing too much heed yet.”
Andrew Fink, The Dispatch

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