In the few days since the car bombing that took the life of Darya Dugina, the daughter of the prominent Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, accusations abound over who orchestrated it, with Russia’s internal security agency, the FSB, pointing the finger at Ukraine, Kyiv blaming the Kremlin, and a previously unknown group—which may or may not exist—taking credit for the attack.
Some 36 hours after Saturday evening’s attack, which took place some 20 kilometers outside of Moscow, the FSB, the main successor agency to the Soviet Union’s KGB, claimed to have solved the murder, naming 44-year-old Natalya Vovk, an alleged member of the Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU), as the culprit.
According to the FSB’s narrative, Vovk, a former member of the Azov Battalion turned spy, first arrived in Russia on 23 July 2022, together with her 12-year-old daughter. After renting an apartment in the same building that Darya Dugina had been living in Moscow, Vovk allegedly spent the next several weeks conducting surveillance, before she attended the Tradition Festival on August 20th, alongside Darya and her father, both of whom had been speakers and guests of honor.
That day, Vovk allegedly planted explosives under the driver’s seat of Dugin’s Land Cruiser Prado, before detonating them remotely as Dugina made her way home from the festival.
Following the bombing, Vovk and her daughter then made their way through the Pskov Region where they exited Russia for Estonia, according to video surveillance footage released by Russian state media.
“It has been established that the crime was prepared and committed by the Ukrainian special services,” the FSB said in a statement published by the state-run RIA Novosti.
The Ukrainian government, for their part, has repeatedly and vociferously denied any involvement in the killing of the 30-year-old journalist and political activist. “We don’t work in this way,” National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on Tuesday during a televised interview.
Kyiv has not merely denied accusations, but they’ve taken it a step further, accusing the Kremlin of orchestrating the attack themselves. Mykhailo Podliak, an advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, claimed in a tweet on Tuesday that the Kremlin—by killing Darya Dugina, who he describes as a “Russian propagandist”—accomplished four goals.
- Created a propagandist symbol by turning Dugina into a martyr
- Popularized the ideas of Aleksandr Dugin
- Intimidated other propagandists so that they would be more “obedient”
- Temporarily diverted attention from #RussiaIsATerroristState.
Others like Illya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian State Duma who now lives in exile, have claimed that the targeted killing was carried out by a previously unknown group calling themselves the National Republican Army (NRA).
“This action, like many other actions of direct action on the territory of Russia in recent months, was carried out by the National Republican Army. We established contact with its fighters using our Rospartizan resource. The NRA fighters authorized me to read their manifesto,” Illya said.
In its manifesto, the NRA claims to be a group of Russian activists, military members, and politicians who are “now partisans and fighters” who fight “robbers and oppressors of the Russian people.” It remains unclear as to whether the group exists or not.