The Assassination of Darya Dugin

Published: Aug 21, 2022
Updated: May 4, 2024

Last night I read the reports of the assassination of Daria Dugin (also spelled Darya Dugina) - the daughter of Russian activist and far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin.

Most say the car targeted was really the father’s car. Others say the car was actually registered to the daughter. The investigation and its findings will be opaque to the West.

In fact, the entire event is opaque. We have one brief video plus comments from Russian witnesses and Russian media.

The elevation of Alexander Dugin #

Predictably, many Western media outlets are leading with the notion that Darya’s father is “Putin’s Brain,” Putin’s “Rasputin,” or even “Putin’s War Mastermind.”

The idea is that Alexander Dugin’s ideas heavily influence and therefore explain Putin’s actions. The problem is this claim is highly speculative and tenuous at best. It seems pushed primarily by the American press, although it has some roots in foreign reportage.

Dugin is an activist and, with his followers, has instigated anti-government activities in Eastern Ukraine. But many of Dugin’s views are eclectic and shared by other streams of thought in Russian history and politics. Some of them have been around for decades, even centuries.

Besides, Putin’s ideas and moves can be deciphered by the last 20 years of his public speaking and writing and prior actions. There’s no need to over-dramatize current events by digging up a relatively obscure mystic-totalist, dressing him in “Rasputin” garb, and parading him around.

But I suppose it is great for clicks and views.

It’s also been great for Dugin himself.

As a result of being dubbed “Putin’s Brain,” Dugin received Western media interview requests and public speaking opportunities, which he gladly accepted. Interestingly, it seems he never accepted or claimed the title of “Putin’s Brain.” Instead, Dugin would smoothly pivot away, turning the discussion back to advocacy of his views.

Ironically, the repeated elevation of Dugin by the American press likely boosted his influence both here, abroad, and possibly in his own country.

He became, through this symbiotic process, the unofficial global spokesman for Russia on the war and was even described as its “architect.” It’s not hard to imagine this being perceived by Putin as a problem.

And now we find Dugin – in reality, not in imagination – at the center of world events, albeit briefly.

Dugin on Russian civilian casualties #

On another note, earlier this year Dugin shared his views about Russian victims of the Ukraine war. The context was an interview conducted by a Russian journalist.

In the interview, translated by, Dugin seems to view Russian civilian casualties as victims of “certain technological problems” with “the reunion.” Here’s a passage from the interview:

Interviewer: But besides Zelensky, there are 40 million people residing in Ukraine. The special operation that is underway now, is being conducted in the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine. Russians live here, the Russian language is spoken here. Kharkov, Mariupol...

How do you explain to a Russian mother, who lost her home, her child, who witnessed all the horrors of destruction and bombing, that all this was done for her own good? Not on a metaphysical plane, but on a material one, what is she suffering for?

Dugin: There are people, who think and seek to comprehend the truth, and there are people, who deal with certain technological problems regarding the reunion.

Back in 2014 it was clear what should be told to her. The streets of Kharkiv in 2014 were covered with flyers containing my statements and quotes, my portraits were plastered on the premises of the city administration.

Interviewer: True, and Russian volunteers were coming to Donbass carrying your ideas about the Russian world. However, today is 2022. The homes of Russian-speaking Ukrainians were destroyed not eight years ago, but are being destroyed now.

Dugin: There is such an Old Testament prophet named Jeremiah. He is known for his lamentation. So, I can announce that the state of my soul from 2014 to 2022 is Jeremiah's lament for the Russian World. I was heartbroken about what we had to do.

Naturally, we are in a difficult situation now, and many opportunities for soft solutions have been lost. I don't know who is to blame, just as I don't know who is to blame for the fall of Troy...

Interviewer: So, how do you explain to a Russian mother from Mariupol that all the unfolding events are for the good?

Dugin: A death of loved ones is a horrible grief. Now it’s almost impossible to explain many things. We will explain it all later, after the liberation of Ukraine. When Mariupol will be ours, then your question will become relevant. Right now, our plan is to win.

As soon as the flags of Eastern Ukraine, of Russia, of freedom and independence soars over Kherson and Novorossiya; as soon as Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts will be liberated, [as soon as] Kherson, Nikolayev, Zaporozhe, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk and other republics will be established, we’ll immediately start to explain.

My brief review of “The American Empire Should Be Destroyed”: Alexander Dugin and the Perils of Immanentized Eschatology

Decoding Putin’s Speeches: The Three Ideological Lines of Russia’s Military Intervention in Ukraine
By Marlène Laruelle and Ivan Grek

Russian Nationalism: Imaginaries, Doctrines, and Political Battlefields
An excellent book by Marlène Laruelle - one of the world’s foremost scholars on Russian illiberal movements.

The intellectual origins of Putin’s invasion By Marlène Laruelle for Unherd.