The daughter of the Russian ultra-nationalist often referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed Saturday after her car exploded in a possible contract killing, the country’s main investigative body said in a statement.
Daria Dugina “died on the spot” after the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving exploded in Bolshye Vyazemy, a small village to the southeast of Moscow, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement posted to its Telegram channel.
“The investigation believes that the crime was planned in advance and is of a contract nature,” the statement said, adding that investigators had “established that the explosive device was placed under the bottom of the car on the driver’s side.”
A murder inquiry has been launched, the statement said.
NBC News has not been able to independently verify this information.
Dugina, 29, was the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” ideology and a vehement supporter of Russia’s sending troops into Ukraine.
Although Dugin doesn’t hold an official government position, he is believed to have influence over Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His daughter had expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad.
“Dasha, like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday, using the familiar form of her name, The Associated Press reported.
Denis Pushilin, head of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, blamed it on “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to kill Alexander Dugin.”
However, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied on Sunday that his country was involved in the death. “We are not a criminal state,” he said on Ukrainian television.
Dugin was first sanctioned by the United States in 2015 and was the leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, recruiting combatants to fight on behalf of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the U.S. Treasury said in a news release last week.
His daughter Dugina was the chief editor of the United World International website that suggested Ukraine would “perish” if admitted to NATO, and was also sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in March.
The U.K. government also called her a “frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation related to Ukraine” when it sanctioned her in July. “Dugina has therefore provided support for and promoted policies or actions which destabilise Ukraine or undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine,” it said in a statement.