Members of Moscow’s elite attended a memorial service Tuesday for car blast victim Darya Dugina, the daughter of a key ally of President Vladimir Putin — and called on the Russian military to take more decisive steps in her memory to claim victory in the war against Ukraine.
Black-clad senior politicians, celebrities, businessmen, fellow nationalists and friends filed past 29-year-old Dugina’s dark wooden casket in a hall at Moscow’s TV center, Ostankino, to bid farewell, lay flowers and light candles.
Her father, ultra-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, 60, who has for years advocated the creation of a new Russian empire that would absorb the territory of neighboring countries such as Ukraine, told mourners his daughter had died for Russia.
“If her tragic death has touched someone, she would have asked them to defend sacred (Russian) Orthodoxy, the people and the Fatherland,” said Dugin, dressed in black and visibly distressed.
“She died for Russia, in the motherland and on the frontline which is not in Ukraine but here.”
Konstantin Malofeyev, a close family friend and a wealthy ultra-nationalist business tycoon, set the tone for many of the tributes that followed from Russian politicians, hailing the murdered woman as a martyr whose death made it all the more important for Russia to defeat Ukraine.
“The people fighting against us do not understand that the Russian people is not just made up of those who are alive now. But is made up of those who lived before us and will live afterwards,” Malofeyev told the mourners. “And we will become stronger with the blood of our martyrs.
“And thanks to the untimely end of our dear beloved Dasha (Darya), we will definitely be victorious in this war.”
A large black and white photograph of Dugina — who worked as a journalist and nationalist TV pundit who supported Putin and was under US sanctions — hung on a black wall behind her casket as somber music played.
Dugina was murdered on Saturday when her SUV was blown up while she was returning from a cultural festival outside Moscow.
Russia’s counterintelligence agency, FSB, has accused Ukrainian intelligence services of masterminding her killing and sending a 43-year-old operative, Natalia Vovk, to carry it out.
Vovk had allegedly escaped to Estonia with her 12-year-old daughter in a Mini Cooper and was being sought by the Russian authorities.
Ukraine has denied any involvement in Dugina’s assassination, with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, declaring: “We are not a criminal state, unlike Russia, and definitely not a terrorist state.”
The parliamentary leaders of the three main pro-Kremlin parties spoke at the service, hailing Dugina as a patriot and promising that those who had ordered and carried out her murder would get their just deserts.
Leonid Slutsky, leader of the nationalist LDPR party, predicted that streets and squares would be named after Dugina before issuing a call for unity.
“One country, one president, one victory,” Slutsky told mourners.
Putin sent a representative to the memorial to convey his condolences, after posthumously awarding Dugina a state medal.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov conveyed a message calling the woman’s killing “a vile and inhuman crime.”
A message of condolence was also read out from a Kremlin-backed leader in eastern Ukraine, and Sergei Mironov, who leads the Just Russia party in parliament, called for the destruction of what he called “the regime” in Kyiv.
“Victory will be the best monument to Dasha,” said Mironov.
In light of Dugina’s murder, which has prompted calls for revenge in Russia, and the six-month anniversary of the war looming on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Kyiv has warned of an increased possibility of Russian military strikes against civilian targets in the coming days and urged Americans to leave the country “now.”
Authorities have told Ukrainians to work from home from Tuesday to Thursday. They also urged people to take air raid warnings seriously and seek shelter when sirens sound.
The Kyiv city administration banned large public gatherings until Thursday, fearing that a crowd of celebrating residents could become a target for a Russian missile strike.
Zelensky warned on Tuesday that any Russian attacks would be followed by “a powerful response.”
“I want to say that each day … this response will grow, it will get stronger and stronger,” Ukraine’s leader said at a news conference with visiting Polish President Andrzej Duda.
With Post wires