Saturday night, 29-year-old Daria Dugina got into her Toyota Land Cruiser somewhere in the outskirts of Moscow. Seconds later, all that remained was burning rubber and steel, the result of a bomb planted underneath her seat. Some reports claimed that security cameras pointing at the site of the bombing had all been disabled for two weeks. Even if some of those details were wrong or exaggerated, it was clearly a professional hit job.
Dugina was the daughter of Alexander Dugin—a ultra-nationalist nut who has written a series of books demanding Russia reassert historical territorial control from Finland and the “Slavic” European nations (as far west as Greece), all the way to Mongolia and northern China, and down to the Indian Ocean. His daughter was following in her father’s footsteps. In fact, she had just had an appearance on state TV on Thursday:
Western media news reports dubbed Alexander Dugin “Putin’s brain,” painting him part Rasputin, part Karl Rove. CNN called him Putin’s “spiritual guide.” The New York Times referred to Daria as “daughter of a Putin ally.”
Meanwhile, modern-day Kremlinologists—scholars and journalists studying and covering contemporary Russian politics—scoffed at the characterization.
By some indications, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin considered Dugin a major irritant. He was fired from his teaching post at Moscow State University in 2014 for being too genocidal in Russia’s first Ukrainian invasion. And after being a frequent guest on Russian state TV supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, he fell out of favor after criticizing Putin for not taking more of Ukraine at the time. (The rules are clear—the military can be criticized from right, but never Putin himself.)
In the late 90s he wrote a book proposing taking Tibet, Inner Manchuria, Xinjiang and other parts of Northern China, compensating them with much of southeastern Asia (except for Vietnam, for some reason), the Philippines, and Australia. The Chinese were not amused, as you might imagine, and the Kremlin was forced to distance itself from Dugin. (This Twitter thread digs into the book’s maps. His main tool for European and Asian domination? Not military force, but energy blackmail. Maybe Putin read that chapter.)
So no, Dugin wasn’t Putin’s “brain” or “close ally” or “Rasputin” or whatever else has been written. He was an ultranationalist crank who dreamed of an expanded Russian empire with zero hopes that any of it would ever be a reality. It was sheer madness.
Some sources, still trying to make Dugin sound particularly important, claim his book was “influential” within Russian circles. Aside from the lack of real sourcing, as far as I can tell, how influential could a book about global conquest be with Russia’s military establishment, if they didn’t bother maintaining equipment at standards capable of actually conquering anything?
Still, none of this is helpful in determining why and by whom Dugina was assassinated. Russia has launched an “investigation,” but no one is taking that seriously.
Some unanswered questions:
- Who was the actual target, Dugin or Dugina? Some claim it must've been the former, because why would someone assassinate a 29-year-old, when her father was the true lightning rod? Yet other reports claim the car was registered to Dugina. Honestly, not sure we can trust anything coming out of Russia right now.
- No, Ukraine wasn’t involved. Russia’s propagandists immediately pointed their fingers at Ukraine, happy to gin up outrage and support for further escalation in Russia’s brutal, murderous invasion. Yet none of that makes sense. If Ukraine had that kind of murderous capacity, there are better targets than a young wannabe fascist. For example, Russian command and control—generals and other top military leaders. There’s no tactical or strategic gain in assassinating Dugina, and for good measure, Ukraine firmly denied any involvement—a stark departure from the wink-wink “denials” of attacks on infrastructure on Russian soil.
- Was Putin involved? There is a long history of Putin offing enemies … and friends, if it serves a broader purpose in his Machiavellian machinations. Heck, it could even be a false flag operation to spark outrage among Russian citizens, creating space for mass mobilization or other escalatory measures.
- Did Dugina make her own enemies? One Russian journalist wrote, “Dugina was involved in the theft of money that the Kremlin allocated to finance the election campaign in France - Le Pen. The money never reached Marine. The same thing happened with European anti-globalists. The girl is a rat. But they wanted to remove the daughter and father." Again, not a lot of confirmation. But if true, that would piss off the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency tasked with International ratfuckery, and it would piss off mafioso-style European far-right Nazis. Neither is a great enemy to have.
So lots of theories, and zero evidence for any of them, with little chance of a real investigation that would give us some answers. And since that wasn’t confusing enough, this season is now test marketing the introduction of an entirely new character:
There is supposedly a resistance movement inside Russia? That would be welcome news! But don’t get attached to that story line. It won’t go far. Sure, it would be a convenient explanation for all the “smoking accidents” at Russian industrial and military sites. But one guy, claiming to be the sole conduit of information from this secretive new armed Russian insurgency is … it’s just not credible. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and we’re nowhere near being able to see any evidence at all.
But hey, if it’s between a bullshit “Ukraine did it” and an equally bullshit “armed Russian insurgents did it” narrative, the latter is less internationally flammable.
Occam’s razor says that all things being equal, the simpler explanation is generally better than more complex ones. In this case, we know Russia is a mafia oligarchy state. Simplest explanation is that an ambitious and greedy Dugina stepped on some toes, and the oligarchy mafia or FSB responded in kind.
One last note—Dugina’s assassination has hit the Russian non-ruling elites hard, irrespective of whether they are pro- or anti-Putin. This thread explains that in the end, the oligarchy thrives on personal connections, not ideology.
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Well, the world’s fastest investigators work in Russia, apparently.
Wow. Russian police found 3-week-old footage so quickly, and spliced it all together in 24 hours! Not to mention, she doesn’t enter the building. She has her 12-year-old in tow. Various videos have her car with three different license plates. Oh, and this:
Russia is comically bad at this.
Ukraine is being so kind as to prepare material for tomorrow’s update:
OMG. This should be REALLY good.
Kamil Galeev has a theory that Durgin was in on his daughter’s assasination, that they were estranged. Seems implausible to me. This response makes more sense:
The loudest oppositional voices are coming from the nationalist right. Maybe Putin is getting concerned. Takes her out, blames Ukraine (however clumsily), and it’s a two-fer.
WarTranslated has a comprehensive roundup of Russian reaction and theories as to the perpetuator of the assassination. It’s a mix of everything—Ukraine did it, no they didn’t, it was the West, and so on.