Russia has claimed that a Ukrainian woman spy came to Moscow and killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of leading Russian nationalist and Putin ally Alexander Dugin. According to Russia's secret services, FSB, Ukrainian spy Natalia Vovk came to Moscow, killed Dugina in a car bomb attack and then fled to Estonia in a Mini Cooper.
However, the majority of foreign observers continue to believe that Dugin's 60-year-old political scientist father, Alexander Dugin, was the intended target and not Ukraine but the attack was carried out by Russian agents on Putin's order. Meanwhile, Dugin, who is in hospital after he had a nervous breakdown following his daughter's death has spoken for the first time and has called for revenge.
Who Killed Her?
The killer of Dugina was identified by the FSB as Natalia Vovk, 43, who had apparently entered Russia illegally from Ukraine along with her 12-year-old daughter. Vovk had followed her victim before deploying the lethal device on Saturday night.
The sequence of events, as described by Russia's security service, reads like a plot from a Hollywood spy movie, with Vovk changing her appearance and using a different vehicle's license plate to hoodwink security guards.
The FSB claims that Vovk entered Russia on July 23 using Donetsk People's Republic license plates to avoid detection.In a video released by the FSB, Vovk was seenopening her car's bonnet in front of immigration officers, who then waived her through a checkpoint. These photos, supposedly taken on July 23, showed Vovk with blonde hair.
Her chestnut brown hair was visible on footage taken after that date, indicating that she may have dyed it or used a wig to hide her identity.
According to the FSB, Vovk rented an apartment in Darya's building and followed her covertly for several weeks throughout Moscow. Russian officials posted a video supposedly taken by a security camera inside an opulent Moscow apartment complex showing Vovk in an effort to substantiate this claim.
On the day of the assassination, Vovk and her daughter went to the Tradition festival, where Darya was taking part. They then killed her with a controlled explosion and fled to Estonia via the Russian city of Pskov.
This is the claim being made by Russia but international observers feel it's completely false and the actual attack was done by Russian agents who acted on the orders of Putin. But why would Putin do that to a man who is dubbed the Russian President's 'brain'?
The outburst of anger among pro-Kremlin pundits in response to the car bomb attack, according to analyst Yekaterina Shulman, appears suspicious. The response came right away. They appear to have been waiting for something like this to occur.
Whoever was responsible, adds Shulman, the killing "could possibly be used to ramp up some public outrage in the country to justify even more active repressive actions by the state."
Dugin has earned the nickname "Putin's brain" for his role in formulating Putin's vision of an empire incorporating former Soviet states like Ukraine. But in more recent speeches, he has been increasingly critical of the president.
According to reports, Dugin, a bearded man who resembles Rasputin, was the intended target of the blast. He had made the last-minute decision to take a different car home, which saved him from getting killed.
On the day Dugina was killed, Dugin wrote in a blog post, "The Special Military Operation as a philosophical phenomenon marks the return of the Empireâthe return of Russia to Empire, the complete restoration of our messianic future destiny.... We are the Orthodox bearers of the Eurasian Empire of the End."
However, prior to that Dugin had been critical of Putin and a few days back had argued that the campaign's success was more crucial than Putin's political future. "The mighty forces of history have come into play, let the old regime bury its head, a new Russian time is coming," he had said.
This may have angered Putin and he wanted to silence Dugin, according to experts.
Moreover, Dugin was also not a Putin ally. Instead, it was the opposite, according to many experts. In 2014, he was fired from his position as a professor at Moscow University, a decision that needed Putin's approval.
Although Dugin backed what the Russian government refers to as a "special military operation" in Ukraine, he was venomous in his criticism of Putin's inner circle.
Just before his daughter passed away on August 20, Dugin wrote in his most recent Telegram and blog posts that the "status quo regime" in Moscowâcurrent Putin's cabinetâwouldn't last six months and that Russia would see an apocalyptic shift. Dugin's remarks teeter on the verge of calling for Putin's overthrow.
"The SMO [Special Military Operation] has changed everything," Dugin wrote. "The question is no longer whether the government wants to change or not. ... Such changes simply are inevitable. Even if you fight to the death against their coming, they cannot be delayed by more than six months. And then they will come anyway," Dugin posted on Telegram.
However, even if the attack and assassination plot were made on Putin's order, there are several points that raise doubts. Putin may have had a rationale for wanting to get rid of Dugin, but the botched operation is very out of the ordinary for state security.
The contract for Dugin may have been placed anywhere in the world if criminals were involved.