Who was Darya Dugina, murdered daughter of a Putin ally and peddler of disinformation supporting the war? | world news

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After Darya Dugina was killed in a car bomb near Moscow over the weekend, Russian state media quickly claimed her father was the real target of the attack.

Ukraine has blamed internal power struggles between “various political factions” inside Russia.

The 29-year-old journalist and political activist has made regular appearances on Kremlin-backed television channels and has been a strong supporter of the war in Ukraine.

War has become Putin’s nightmare – latest updates from Ukraine

Some believe his father, Alexander Dugin, was the architect of Vladimir Putin’s increasingly hostile attitude towards the West, which culminated in the invasion six months ago.

Here, Sky News examines father and daughter and their connection to the war.

Darya Dugina was the daughter of ultra-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin and his second wife, philosopher Natalya Melentyeva.

She grew up in Moscow and studied at Moscow State University, where her father at that time was director of sociology and international relations.

After graduating, she became involved in her father’s “Eurasian Movement”, a dissident political group he founded in the early 2000s after quitting the National Bolshevik Party.

This new Eurasian movement combines Russian Orthodoxy with elements of National Bolshevism and anticipates a war between the so-called Russian Empire and the West.

As well as working as a political commentator for the movement and press secretary for her father, Ms Dugina has appeared on various pro-Kremlin TV channels, including RT and Tsargrad – where her father was editor.

She was also the editor of a website called United World International.

It describes itself as an “independent center of analysis” for political scientists and international relations experts, but is notorious for disinformation and is owned by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, who funds the notorious Russian mercenary group Wagner.

In April, Ms Dugina was added to UK and US sanctions lists, which describe her as “a frequent and high-profile contributor of misinformation regarding Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine on various online platforms”.

Jaroslava Barbieri, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, told Sky News: “It’s important to know who’s behind this type of misinformation, as it speaks to a wider systematic Kremlin propaganda machine.

“Over the past few months, she has been repeating Kremlin stories about the existence of far-right Nazi groups in Ukraine and therefore that Russia’s ‘special military operation’ is justified.”

She openly bragged about herself and her father’s place on Western sanctions lists and just weeks before his death had traveled to occupied Mariupol and Donetsk to show support for Russian troops.

Darya Dugina with Alexander Dugin.  Image: Twitter
Image:
Darya Dugina with her father Alexander Dugin. Image: Twitter

Like father, like son

Mrs. Dugina’s views were heavily influenced by those of her father.

“It is important to understand the father to understand how the daughter was inserted into far-right politics,” Ms Barbieri said.

Growing up in Soviet Russia and in the Orthodox Church, Mr. Dugin was an anti-communist dissident in the 1980s.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he co-founded the National Bolshevik Party in 1993, but left it to create the Eurasian Party in the early 2000s.

In 1997, he published a book called The Foundations Of Geopolitics, which set out his “neo-Eurasian” worldview.

In it, he called on Russia to reclaim its former territories and, with the help of allies such as Iran, establish an empire to rival the United States and the West.

When the Kremlin invited him to speak at an anti-Orange rally in February 2012, he said of the United States: “They invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya.

“Syria and Iran are on the agenda. But their target is Russia. We are the last obstacle in their path to building a global empire of evil.”

Alexander Dugin
Image:
Alexander Dugin addresses a rally in Moscow

A 1997 book foreshadowed Putin’s Russia

Since coming to power at the turn of the millennium, President Putin has become increasingly hostile to the West and stubbornly focused on Russia’s global dominance.

Some suggest Mr Dugin is behind it all, describing him as ‘Putin’s mastermind’ and ‘Putin’s Rasputin’.

Ms Barbieri says: “Her 1997 book really describes what happened with Putin’s Russia decades later.

“He advocates the destabilization of American politics, which we saw with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

“And that ties in with his broader Eurasian theory that Russia must compete with the Atlanticist powers.”

In line with these ideas of the Russian “motherland”, Mr Dugin called for the annexation of Crimea as early as 2008 during Russia’s war with Georgia, saying their troops should have stormed the capital Tbilisi and overthrow the president.

When Russia finally annexed Crimea in 2014, he called for a broader war in Ukraine, which he often called “Novorossiya” or “New Russia”, as Mr Putin has done in recent months and years.

Dugin ‘may have overstated his influence’

Although the views of Mr. Dugin and Mr. Putin are strongly aligned, many experts believe his role has been exaggerated.

Sir Tony Brenton, former British ambassador to Russia, told Sky News: “Putin quoted him and knows his work.

“There have been discussions about the influence he had on Putin, but it is undeniable that he propagated a philosophy which is largely Putin’s view on the justification of war. [with Ukraine].”

He added that although he and his daughter are popular in far-right circles, many Russians may never have heard of either of them.

Ms Barbieri acknowledges that he “may have exaggerated the influence he had”.

“His relationship with Putin is very opaque,” ​​she says. “There is very little evidence that they met regularly.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation. Was the Kremlin influenced by these far-right fringe circles, or did these circles use this tougher, more nationalist narrative in recent years to make advance their own ideas?”

Mr Dugin was reportedly in regular contact with Russian-backed separatist militants in Crimea and Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region when war broke out there in 2014.

He lost his post as head of the Department of Sociology and International Relations at Moscow State University following comments he made about the country.

In an interview describing Ukrainian protesters burned alive by far-right extremists in the Ukrainian city of Odessa that year, he said “kill them, kill them, kill them”.

This was widely interpreted as a call to murder Ukrainians, leading to a petition to have him deported signed by over 10,000 people.

A year later, he was sanctioned by the United States and Canada for his alleged role in the annexation of Crimea.

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