Darya Dugina was killed last week by a car bomb while driving home from an elite event in a Moscow suburb. Russian investigators were quick to blame Ukrainian agents, however, Professor Peter Duncan told Express.co.uk that it is much more likely that Russian security services, such as the FSB, carried out the attack to help Putin’s crackdown inside Russia.
Dr Duncan is a retired Honorary Associate Professor at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies specialising in Russian nationalism.
In 1999, a series of apartment bombings, which Moscow attributed to Chechen terrorists, rocked Russia, killing more than 300 people and injuring more than 1000.
The Russian Prime Minister’s handling of the crisis boosted his popularity enormously helping him to rise to the office of President. That Prime Minister was Vladimir Putin.
However, academics and journalists have questioned Moscow’s account of the bombings.
Three FSB agents were arrested planting a bomb in an apartment complex, however the FSB claimed this was a “training exercise” with explosives which contained only “sugar”.
Prof Duncan is one such academic who questions the authenticity of Moscow’s account of the bombings and argues that the bomb which killed Darya Dugina, daughter of Russian ultranationalist Aleksandr Dugina, was also likely planted by the Kremlin.
He said: “I am certainly among those who think that even in those days, even back in 1999, it was the FSB that was blowing up the buildings, not the Chechens.”
He added: “It fits in, it’s the right sort of time for this [the assassination of Dugina] to happen in terms of when it’s needed and how the war is going.”
Some experts believe Putin used accusations of terrorism and even false flag operations to tighten his grip on power in the late 1990s. As the war in Ukraine stalls and Russian casualties mount, Putin may be looking to further tighten his grip in Russia to quiet any dissent.
Moscow has blamed Ukraine for the assassination, an accusation which Kyiv has strongly denied. Ukrainian officials have also accused the Kremlin’s security services for the bombing.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov said: “We have more important tasks for our boys and girls…the FSB did this and is now suggesting that one of our people did it.”
A third party, the, until recently, unknown National Republican Army (NRA) in Russia has claimed responsibility for the attack. The partisan group, which is anti-Putin, said Russia authorities were “so afraid of the partisans that they are ready for any fables in order to maintain the appearance of total control”.
However, it is doubtful that Ukraine or Russian opposition groups have the ability to carry out such a strike which occurred following an “elite” conference in an upscale Moscow suburb, according to Professor Duncan.
Dr Duncan said: “It may be that Ukrainian fighters have managed to penetrate [Russian security], I just find it much harder to think that they’d be able to do it in Moscow in this way.
“To place a bomb in a car – in a car park while an elite conference is going on – which is bound to be quite well protected.”
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He added: “It’s more likely that Russian security forces of one sort or another carried this out than Russian opposition forces or Ukrainian [forces]. How would they be allowed to get in? It doesn’t make sense.
“Somebody who is working for the catering for this workshop or conference was able, somehow, to get to the car, borrow the keys and put the bomb in? That doesn’t work really.”
Prof Duncan noted that although some have claimed that Putin and Ms Dugina’s father, Aleksandr Dugin, were close, there was no evidence that the two have actually met.
He believes that Dugin’s influence on the dictator has been largely “exaggerated” although the two do share some ultranationalist views.