Russia: No tears for Dugina

Darya Dugina was killed in a car bomb explosion last Saturday night (20th August) on the outskirts of Moscow. She was returning from the Tradition festival, where she had spoken on the themes of the Russian Idea, Empire, and culture wars.

Earlier in the day she had given what was to be her final television interview, in which she had declared “the end of liberal totalitarianism, liberal fascism and Western totalitarianism. The special military operation [i.e. invasion of Ukraine] seems to me to be the final nail in the coffin of its global hegemony.”

Much of the media coverage of Dugina’s death has focused on the fact that she was the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a political philosopher of sorts who is frequently but wrongly seen as a major influence on Putin’s thinking.

It is certainly true that Dugina’s own voluminous political, philosophical and journalistic output had much in common with the ideas of her father.

As she once put it: “I carry this banner with pride – to be the daughter and continuation of my father’s existence. I will do everything to set a worthy example which brings glory to the name of my father.”

Like her father, she saw the world in terms of a geopolitical conflict between sea powers (USA and Britain) and land powers (Russia and its ‘near abroad’ – Eurasia).

For father and daughter alike, the West was in its death throes, mortally wounded by liberalism, decadence, and an abandonment of traditional values. Russia, by contrast, was liberating itself from Western-globalist enslavement and rightfully re-establishing itself as an Empire.

According to Dugina:

“Everyone thinks that totalitarianism belongs to the past. In fact, that is not the case. It has not simply not gone away. It has subordinated to itself all of the West, all of Europe. What you have there is liberal dictatorship.”

For Dugina, an ecological agenda, the campaign for transgender rights, the “conversion of the individual to homosexuality”, veganism and freeganism (Wikipedia: “an ideology of limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources”) were all instruments whereby the West sought to “crush society and reduce its population.”

(For reasons never explained by Dugina, a reduction in the size of the population was “of benefit to the representatives of liberal totalitarianism.” She singled out Bill Gates’ financing of vaccination programmes in Africa as a specific example of this.)

Russia, by contrast, was the site of “an attempt to realise a new political theory”: “The unification of the best elements of left economics (throwing overboard left politics, i.e. no trace of gender theories and queer satanism) with right-wing political elements, such as conservatism and Tradition.”

Russia, argued Dugina, was to the fore in “rising up against totalitarian liberalism, which has taken root everywhere in the world.” For this reason, “the peoples of Europe see Russia as an island of freedom, as an anti-totalitarian front.”

For Dugina “National Bolshevism” had the potential to offer the way forward for Russia:

“National Bolshevism could be the new doctrine around which the right-wing, the alternative-left-wing and all others you mentioned [in this interview] could unite. National Bolshevism is an important political model for the Russian Empire. For us, National Bolshevism is something natural. But for the West it is the rupturing of a shibboleth.”

(Her father’s own experiences of National Bolshevism had been less than happy. He had co-founded the Russian National Bolshevik Party with Eduard Limonov in 1993, but split from it in 1998.)

Dugina was an admirer of the Taliban: “The Taliban are doing decent things. They have banned narcotics and expelled the Americans. Two excellent gestures. True, they restrict women’s education. But was it any better previously, when women were told under the old regime that they could choose their own sex?”

She was also an admirer of Marine Le Pen and maintained close links – she had studied ancient Greek philosophy at a French university – with the far-right National Rally. In 2017 and 2022 Dugina enthusiastically predicted victory for Le Pen in the Presidential elections.

Macron, by contrast, was the enemy: “Macron supports the criminal Nazi regime [in Kiev]. To go to Kiev is to support the regime. The French President’s aides have already met with the neo-Nazi clans in Ukraine. The paradoxical situation has now emerged that Macron and Zelensky represent the liberal-Nazi regime.”

Inevitably, Dugina was a fervent supporter of – and propagandist for – Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: “This is not a war against Ukraine. It is a war against the whole of the West. The Azov Batallion are not Ukrainians. Authenticity for Ukraine means being friends of Russians.”

Novorossiya, as Dugina called Russian-occupied Ukraine, was a philosophical inspiration:

“Philosophy is born where life and death co-exist, where there is an 'I' and 'Another', where there is division and an overcoming of division. For me, Novorossiya is a space of philosophical meaning. It is now an empire-forming space for Russia, and thanks to this frontier horizon we exist as Russia, as an unconquered Russia.”

But Dugina could be far more prosaic in expressing her support for Putin’s invasion.

In her last television interview – still to be broadcast – she dismissed the Bucha massacre as a false-flag operation carried out by Ukraine for the purpose of turning Western public opinion against Russia.

In June she visited the Azovstal steelworks in occupied Mariupol and explained the ‘real’ nature of the conflict in Ukraine:

“People understand that this is war. It is not only a war between Ukrainians and the pro-Russian side. This is a war of two ideologies. This is globalism against anti-globalism. This is a question of civilisations, to use the term of Samuel Huntingdon’s concept.

"This is a hardcore conflict provoked artificially by the Western forces and the globalists. So, all this is a clash of civilisations. The problem from the Ukrainian side is their religion there. They are obsessed by their aggression.

"Azovstal is liberated. It is liberated not only from Ukrainians but from globalism as well. Now it is Russian.”

Asked in an interview about what should happen to the captured Azov soldiers, Dugina suggested a kind of ‘live-art’ performance in which inhabitants of Mariupol could confront them and decide their fate and physically assault them if they wished to do so.

When the interviewer suggested that the prisoners might not survive such a spectacle, Dugina replied: “There is nothing terrible about that. There are different performances. Different performances have different endings.”

In that respect, as in so many others, Dugina represented a continuation of her father’s ‘philosophy’: In 2014 Dugin was sacked from Moscow State University after declaring that “Ukrainians need to be killed, killed, killed. I am telling you this as a professor.”

But Dugina was more active and more effective than her father in popularising such ideas.

Dugin is an old man with a long beard who dresses in black and writes long, tedious and rambling articles.

His daughter, by contrast, was telegenic, She largely dispensed with her father’s quack mysticism, knew the meaning of a sound-bite, and understood the importance of social media for political activism and campaigning.

Dugina made regular appearances on pro-Putin social media (YouTube channels such as Mash, radio stations such as Komsomolskaya Pravda, and television channels such as Tsarygrad-TV) and on pro-Putin terrestrial television channels (RT and First Channel).

She was also a regular contributor to the website, wrote for the Aurora news agency, ran her own Telegram account (Platonova), and regularly had material reposted by Nezygar, the most popular Russian political Telegram account.

At the time of her death Dugina was writing an article for inclusion in the first book to be published in Russia about Putin’s invasion, Book Z, billed as “a collection of stories from soldiers, peaceful citizens of the liberated towns, and volunteers.” Symptomatically, the name of the publishers is “The Black Hundreds”.

Since Dugina’s death speculation has run riot about who carried out the bombing, the intended target of which was likely to have been Dugin rather than his daughter: Only at the last minute did Dugin decide to travel back to Moscow with a friend rather than with his daughter.

Denis Pushilin, Moscow’s placeman as head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic was quick to blame the Ukrainian government: “Low-life scum! Terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, trying to liquidate Alexander Dugin, blew up his daughter. In her car. Eternal memory to Darya. She was a real Russian lass!”

In less than 48 hours the Russian authorities were also claiming that the bombing had been carried out by a female Ukrainian national who had rented a flat in the apartment where Dugina lived, followed her to the “Tradition” festival in a Mini Cooper, and then fled to Estonia after the killing.

If true – although it is almost certainly not – this would be bad news for the Russian security services.

After the fiasco of “the conquest of Kiev in three days” and recent explosions at key military installations in the Crimea and Belgorod, a Ukrainian undercover agent can now travel across Russia in an inconspicuous Mini Cooper and plant a bomb on the outskirts of Moscow?

(But surely such a skilled operative could have found a better target than a couple of cranky quack-philosophers?)

Another theory is that the killing was carried out by the Russian security services themselves. Given their record, the theory is not completely off-the-wall, especially if the target was Dugin himself.

Although Dugin could be described as providing the ‘mood music’ for Putin, he is not Putin’s court philopher. In fact, as one of Navalny’s advisers has put it: “The strength of the Kremlin lies not in its ideology, but in its lack of one.”

Dugin was ecstatic about Putin’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and his full-scale invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. At the same time, he writes of Putin as having fulfilled his historical role and being incapable of achieving the tasks now at hand.

The left-liberal opposition in Russia is crushed, at least for the time being. But that is not the case with the more-Putin-than-Putin critics of Putin’s regime. Taking out the Dugins would be a shot across their bows.

And, in this scenario, Dugina herself would have been more of a target than her father. As Sergei Karnaukhov, presenter of one of the television shows on which Dugina appeared, put it:

“Dasha is now much more recognised and much more significant (than her father) in public political space. Today it is not uncommon to encounter the opinion that it is radical patriots rather than liberals who are a greater threat to the Kremlin.

"Dugin, with his mysticism, could never become a leader of popular sympathies. But a beauty like Darya had clearly been preparing herself for the role of the Russian Le Pen.”

Reflecting the political milieu inhabited by Dugina, and also the Russian-state-media-driven prevalence of anti-Western conspiracy theories, a host of more exotic explanations and culprits for the car-bomb attack have emerged.

According to the Russian writer Alexei Chadayev, it was the Poles: “It is interesting that none of the commentators have remembered the spring article in the Guardian by the Polish Prime Minster Morawiecki, when he proclaimed the task of ‘destroying the ideology of the Russian World’.”

According to the Russian journalist Yegor Kholmogorov, it was the English, possibly with French help: “Why were the people who ordered the assassination of Dugin the Anglo-Saxons, possibly in alliance with French bitches? Because they understand perfectly the importance of intellectuals.”

Somewhat confusingly, in another article Kholmogorov blames the Americans: “It is already clear that the world is getting out of the control of the United States. It was therefore important for them to destroy the person who would create an alternative agenda.”

For Yevgeny Primakov, in charge of Russian relations with the former Soviet states, it was a joint US-British venture:

“[The assassination] was supervised by people from the CIA and MI6. It was precisely those people who saw Dugin as ‘Putin’s Merlin’ and the ‘secret and principal philosopher of Putin’. This was always an important part of the ‘Western’ Anglo-Saxon myth. If you understand this, then the picture is complete.”

Russian political journalist Pyotr Akopov likewise saw the killing as a very Anglo-Saxon affair:

“Who wanted to kill Dugin? Those whom he called ‘servants of the Devil’, i.e. the global Anglo-Saxon elite which is working for the victory of the anti-human ideology of transhumanism. The Ukrainian secret services probably organised the terrorist act itself. But there is no doubt that they were acting under the instructions and in the interests of the Anglo-Saxon powers.”

Less confidently, one-time Duma member but long-time Stalinist Daria Mitina hinted at British responsibility: “The Ukrainian theme did not rank even tenth in her interests. But it is certainly possible that in the secret services of a certain island state Dasha’s natural inquisitiveness did not go unnoticed.”

The Russian political scientist Sergei Markov found a different culprit: “Dugin and Turkey. The terrorist act against the Dugins is related to Turkey.” The gist of his argument, too complicated to explain, was that Dugin actively promoted a union between Turkey and Russia. So, it must have been Turkish opponents of such a union who planted the car bomb.

And for the journalist and leader of the Russian Party of Freedom and Justice Maxim Shevchenko the killing was part of an international conspiracy:

“The fact that the target was Dugin and his family is a demonstration of the intentions of the liberal pro-western establishment not to allow a ‘conservative revolution’ and the political consolidation of all anti-liberal forces.”

According to a particularly grovelling obituary by Sergei Mardan in Komsomolskaya Pravda, Dugina “died as a soldier.”

That is correct. She was a soldier in the forces of Russian imperialism, anti-liberal reaction, and neo-Eurasian philosophical charlatanism. And in a war soldiers die.

No tears for Dugina. And if her father follows in her footsteps, no tears for him either.