AMU Opinion Original Terrorism

Was The Killing Of Russia’s Darya Dugina An Assassination?

By William Tucker
Edge Contributor

“The important thing to know about any assassination – or an attempted assassination – is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet.” – Eric Ambler, “A Coffin for Dimitrios” (1939)

Darya Dugina: Russian Nationalist

Someone wanted Darya Dugina dead. And despite claims from the Russian government that the case has been solved, we really do not know who killed the 29-year-old TV journalist who often espoused violent nationalist rhetoric.

Was Her Father The Real Target?

Her father and notable neo-imperialist Aleksandr Dugin survived the car-bomb attack that killed Dugina. Her father was supposed to be in the same vehicle as Dugina, but the plan changed at the last minute, leading some to speculate that the older political philosopher was the intended target.

No Political Power

Dugin is a vehement supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, but he is not affiliated with the government nor has he held any official position. Furthermore, killing him – or his daughter – wouldn’t impact any Russian government policy.

Though Russia – and some others – characterize Dugina’s death as an assassination, the attack falls short of that definition. Dugina did not hold any political power, meaning that the murderers had a different motive.

Japan’s Shinzo Abe Assassination

The recent assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a political murder. Abe was killed by a homemade firearm while he was giving a stump speech in support of a local candidate for political office.

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The killer claimed he targeted Abe because of a policy that harmed his family, and the assassination was one of personal revenge. In this case, a personal motive became a political statement in that the government was viewed as harming the family of this suspect.

How Does Abe Compare to Dugina?

By punishing Abe, the perpetrator sent a message to others in government in hope of inspiring others to take up violence and ignite political change. In stark contrast, Dugina’s murder won’t impact the Russian government because the suspicious disappearances – or deaths – of prominent people is a frequent event. Had Dugin died as well, then the outcome would not change.

FSB ‘Solves’ Dugina’s Murder in 2 Days

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claims to have solved the murder – in just two days. The FSB apparently identified the killers, where they lived, and the route they took to enter and exit Russia. Unsurprisingly, the accusations fell on Ukraine as the culpable party – a charge that Ukraine denies.

The Reasons: Ukraine, a ‘False-Flag’ Operation or Russian Infighting?

Though it would be in Ukraine’s interest to conduct some attacks in Russia, it doesn’t make much sense that Kyiv would take such a risk to kill someone unaffiliated with the Russian government. Alternatively, some claim that Russia orchestrated the car bombing as a false-flag operation, but there isn’t any evidence to support this claim. Another suggestion implies Russian infighting – but there is little to support that either.

National Republican Army

Ilya Ponomarev – a former Russian politician living in Ukraine – stated that a group called the National Republican Army was responsible for the attack. This movement emerged the same weekend that the attack took place, suggesting that it is either a convenient front for someone else, or a new group with an unknown agenda.

Whoever killed Dugina – and why – is obviously up for debate, and the longer the Russia-Ukraine war drags on, the more common these attacks will become.

William Tucker serves as a senior security representative to a major government contractor where he acts as the Counterintelligence Officer, advises on counterterrorism issues, and prepares personnel for overseas travel. His additional duties include advising his superiors in matters concerning emergency management and business continuity planning.

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