Russia’s counterintelligence agency on Monday claimed that the car bomb that killed the daughter of Vladimir Putin’s ally Alexander Dugin was planted by a female Ukrainian spy who then fled to Estonia.
Officials with FSB have identified Darya Dugina’s alleged assassin as 43-year-old Natalia Vovk, who they said was acting as part of a criminal plot “orchestrated and perpetrated by Ukrainian special services,” according to Russian state news agency TASS.
FSB published a video compilation allegedly that opens with Vovk entering Russia in her gray Mini Cooper, which sports plates issued by the Kremlin-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic. A second portion of the video appears to show Vovk entering the apartment building where Dugina lived in Moscow.
A doorbell camera offers a clear view of the woman’s face as she stands in front of the front door, then answers a call on her phone.
The final portion of the video shows Vovk’s Mini Cooper — now featuring Ukrainian plates — being subjected to an inspection on the Russian-Estonian border following Dugina’s killing.
A female border agent instructs in Russian Vovk to open all the doors in her car and the glove compartment, and to remove her luggage from the trunk.
Vovk, wearing a pink tracksuit and dark sunglasses, appears to comply with the inspection, after which she is allowed to be on her way.
Ukraine was quick to deny any involvement in the 29-year-old Dugina’s killing, with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, declaring: “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.”
Russia likewise denied carrying out a “false flag” attack on Dugina, whose father — dubbed “Putin’s brain” — had issued a statement online just hours before the explosion criticizing the Kremlin strongman and advocating for “internal transformations.”
Dugina, a state TV pundit and staunch Putin ally, was returning from a cultural festival on the outskirts of Moscow that she had attended with her father when her SUV exploded, killing her.
Her father, who some have suggested may have been the intended target of the killing, had left the festival in a separate car. He was filmed at the scene of the blast appearing in a state of shock.
According to FSB, the prime suspect in the assassination, Vovk, had arrived in Russia on July 23 with her 12-year-old daughter, Sophia Shaban, and moved into the same apartment building in Moscow where Dugina lived to gather information about the Kremlin propagandist’s lifestyle and habits.
TASS reported, citing official sources, that Vovk followed Dugina around in a Mini Cooper with Kazakh license plates.
On Saturday, Vovk and her daughter allegedly attended the musical and literary festival “Tradition,” where Dugina was a guest of honor.
After allegedly detonating Dugina’s Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a remote-controlled device, Vovk and her daughter fled to neighboring Estonia in their Mini Cooper, now displaying Ukrainian plates, according to the FSB.
Russian law enforcement officials said they will be calling for Vovk’s extradition.
Estonia’s foreign ministry declined to comment and there was no immediate comment from Estonia’s interior ministry or police and border guard service.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-backed RT media organization, suggested Russian agents could track Vovk down in Estonia.
“Estonia, of course, will not give them away,” Simonyan wrote on Telegram. “I think we have professionals who want to admire the spiers in the vicinity of Tallinn.”
In a letter expressing condolences to Dugin and his wife that was released by the Kremlin, Putin denounced the “cruel and treacherous” killing of Dugina, hailing her as a “bright, talented person with a real Russian heart — kind, loving, responsive and open.”
Dugin released a statement describing his daughter as a “rising star” who was “treacherously killed by enemies of Russia.”
“Our hearts are longing not just for revenge and retaliation, it would be too petty, not in Russia style,” Dugin wrote. “We need only victory.”
Just hours before the blast that killed his daughter, Dugin — a philosopher, writer and ultranationalist political theorist advocating for the creating of a new Russian empire — had written a post on his Telegram channel, arguing that “the status quo in Russia theoretically could last no longer than six months.”
He said Kyiv’s “desperate resistance” demands “significant — cardinal — internal transformations. Structural, ideological, staffing, institutional, strategic.”
“I realize that those in power are used to govern as they always have done — more or less effectively — for the past 22 years. But that period is in the past,” Dugin wrote. “(Special military operation) has already changed everything. Now the question is not whether those in power would or would not want to make changes… changes are inevitable.”
Dugin opined that the war in Ukraine is now “more important than those in power.” He then added: “Let the old regime bury its dead. A new Russian era is beginning. It’s unavoidable.”
With Post wires
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism