A powerful explosion ripped apart an SUV near Moscow on Saturday night, instantly killing its driver, identified as Darya Dugina, the daughter of Russian political commentator Aleksandr Dugin.
The incident took place on a highway 20km west of Moscow at around 9:35pm local time, with witnesses saying the blast occurred in the middle of the road, scattering debris all around. The car, which was engulfed in flames, then crashed into a fence, according to photos and videos from the scene.
The emergency services said one person was inside the car and was instantly killed by the blast – a female whose body was reportedly burned beyond recognition.
The authorities have yet to officially confirm the identity of the victim, but multiple Russian Telegram channels and media sources reported that the victim was Darya Dugina (Platonova), 29. Her father, Aleksandr Dugin, was spotted at the scene soon after the incident, visibly shocked, according to several videos circulating on social media.
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Preliminary reports suggested that a home-made explosive device might have been involved, but investigators have yet to confirm the cause of the blast or any potential motive.
Earlier on Saturday evening, Dugin was giving a lecture on ‘Tradition and History’ at a family festival in Moscow Region. His daughter was in attendance. Unconfirmed reports say Dugin initially planned to leave the festival with her but later decided to take a separate car, while Darya took his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
Dugina was a political commentator and daughter of the veteran Russian philosopher, known for his staunch anti-Western and ‘neo-Eurasian’ views.
Western media has painted Dugin as a driving force behind President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy over the past decade. In recent months, CBS dubbed him “the far-right theorist behind Putin’s plan,” while the Washington Post called him a “far-right mystical writer who helped shape Putin’s view of Russia.”
In Russia, the supposed shadowy puppet master is largely considered to be a marginal figure. While he has served as an adviser to several politicians, Dugin never enjoyed official endorsement from the Kremlin. In 2014, he was fired from his position at Moscow State University, after critics interpreted his call to “kill, kill, kill” those behind massacres in Ukraine, such as the Odessa tragedy, as a call for a genocide against Ukrainian people.
The US think tank RAND Corporation wrote in 2017 that despite Western media reports of Dugin’s alleged “ties and connections” to the Russian leadership, he is “perhaps best thought of as an extremist provocateur with some limited and peripheral impact than as an influential analyst with a direct impact on policy.”