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The daughter of Putin ally Alexander Dugin is killed in a car bomb explosion

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A car bomb in Moscow has killed the daughter of a far-right Russian ideologue who is an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Aleksandr Dugin's ideas and writing influenced the Kremlin's narrative for the invasion of Ukraine. His daughter, Darya Dugina, shared his views and spread disinformation and conspiracy theories about the war in Ukraine as a commentator on Russian nationalist TV. Russia's investigative committee has opened a criminal murder case. It is unknown whether she, her father or both were the target of the attack.

INSKEEP: Let's turn now to Max Seddon. He is the Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times. He is in Riga, Latvia, at the moment. Welcome.

MAX SEDDON, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: I don't want to be flip about this, but normally, it's people who criticize Vladimir Putin who get mysteriously killed. What does it mean that someone who seems to be in Putin's orbit was assassinated?

SEDDON: Well, this is the first time that there has been any real serious blowback for supporters of the war within Moscow itself. Something Putin's been very successful throughout the war is maintaining a sense of normalcy in Moscow, not just for ordinary people but also for the elite who are, you know, part of the state TV and propaganda apparatus. So life is largely going on as normal. There isn't wartime mobilization that you would have if they, you know, officially declared a war, which they haven't done.

So this is the first time that the war has come home to them, and it's certainly a shock to a lot of the people, you know, who knew Darya Dugina, who know Aleksandr Dugin, who move in these circles. The editor of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, where Darya Dugina occasionally appeared as a guest, wrote that she has been followed around by bodyguards everywhere for the last few months because of threats to her own life. And certainly there is a sense that they are having to deal with some blowback finally here, six months into the war.

INSKEEP: Granting that authorities have said they're going to investigate, are we likely to get what we would accept as credible information about what happened here?

SEDDON: I would expect not. I think what's really going to be significant here is - so you could compare it to the murder of one of Stalin's top aides, Sergei Kirov, in 1934, where it was, yeah, decades before there was any clue from evidence as to who really was behind it, but what was important was how it was used. And I think that would be the most important thing to watch here. So if they blame this on Ukraine, will this be used as justification for further attacks on Ukraine? If they blame this on some sort of Russian dissident movement, like the one that has apparently claimed responsibility, will that be used to justify further repression inside Russia? And I think that will be the best indication of how Russia is treating this, is a - who is the victim of reprisals for this attack?

INSKEEP: I guess we should note that Ukraine has denied any involvement here. But is the Kremlin signaling who they are intending to blame?

SEDDON: The Kremlin hasn't - from state propaganda, has obviously already blamed Ukraine. It certainly seems that professionals were involved in doing this. It was a remote-detonating bomb, according to the investigators. There's also a Russian partisan group that has claimed responsibility, but there is a lot of suspicion about whether they really exist. You know, could they be a front for Ukrainian special ops? Could they be a front for the FSB? Really, nobody knows. And what's certain is it seems like professionals were behind this, and the consequences are going to be felt for some time.

INSKEEP: Max Seddon of the Financial Times. Thanks so much.

SEDDON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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