(CNSNews.com) – Russia’s FSB intelligence agency claimed on Monday to have solved the murder of the daughter of a leading ultra-nationalist, blaming Ukrainian secret services and releasing information on a Ukrainian woman whom it said carried out the car bombing before fleeing overland to Estonia.
Pro-Kremlin media outlets also tried to link the woman – by posting images of a purported military ID document – to the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian military regiment reviled by Moscow and characterized as a neo-Nazi entity.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podoliak, rejected the claims as propaganda fit for fiction, and alleging that the car bombing was part of an internal struggle – or what he called an “intraspecies fight” – within the Russian security community.
The Azov Battalion denied that the named suspect was ever a member, calling both the bombing and the attempt to link it to the regiment a provocation designed to prepare the way for a show trial of Azov members who were captured by Russia after defending the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol during the three-month siege.
The weekend car bombing outside Moscow killed Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a U.S.-sanctioned ideologue whose geostrategic and ethno-religious views and vision of a Eurasian entity incorporating Russia and former Soviet states are thought by some observers to have influenced Putin’s thinking.
Dugin, who had attended a nationalist “literary and music festival” with his daughter and swapped vehicles shortly before the blast, was thought likely to have been the target.
President Vladimir Putin on Monday posthumously awarded Dugina with a state decoration that recognizes acts of courage and valor. The citation said the award was for “courage and dedication shown in the performance of professional duty.”
“A vile, cruel crime cut short the life of Darya Dugina, a bright, talented person with a true Russian heart, kind, loving, sympathetic and open,” he said in a condolence message to her parents.
“Journalist, scientist, philosopher, and war correspondent, she honestly served the people and the Fatherland, and proved by deed what it means to be a patriot of Russia.”
Dugina was sanctioned by the U.S. last March, and Britain last month, for pro-Kremlin disinformation activities.
The announcement by the FSB – the Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB – said the car bombing had been “prepared and committed by Ukrainian secret services.”
It said a 43-year old Ukrainian citizen named as Natalia Vovk, accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter, traveled to Moscow a month ago, and stayed in the same apartment block as Dugina.
The FSB said Vovk and her daughter went to the same festival attended by Dugin and Dugina, and that Vovk had detonated the car bomb by remote control.
It claimed she had then driven out the country, crossing into Estonia (a roughly nine-hour drive from the scene of the bombing). The FSB provided three registration plate numbers which it said Vovk fitted to her Mini Cooper at various stages of the operation – one issued by the so-called “Donetsk people’s republic” in eastern Ukraine, a Kazakhstan license plate, and a Ukrainian one.
After the FSB announcement, Estonia’s prosecutor general’s office said in a statement that it had received no requests or queries from Russian authorities relating to the Dugina affair.
In response to queries, Estonia Police and Border Guard Board spokesperson Ragne Keisk said in an email the agency could only share information about individuals entering or leaving the country “in cases prescribed by law.”
“Russian FSB’s accusations, which reached us through the media, is not one of them,” she said. “We have not received any official requests for information from Russia concerning this matter.”
A law enforcement official told TASS Russia would place Vovk on a wanted list and seek her extradition.
A senior Russian lawmaker, Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov, wrote on his Telegram channel that if Estonia refuses to surrender Vovk, as expected, then Russia “will have grounds for tough measures against Estonia as a state sheltering a terrorist.”
Earlier, a Ukraine-based former Russian lawmaker claimed the bombing was carried out by an anti-Putin Russian group calling itself National Republican Army. The FSB statement made no mention of that claim.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said of the car bombing that the U.S. “unequivocally” condemns the “targeting of civilians, whether that’s in Kyiv, whether that’s in Bucha, whether that’s in Kharkiv, whether that’s in Kramatorsk, whether that’s in Mariupol, or whether that’s in Moscow.”
“That principle applies around the world.”
Price noted that the Ukraine government has denied any involvement.
“I have no doubt that the Russians will investigate this,” he said. “I also have no doubt that the Russians will put forward certain conclusions.”
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday Russia would raise the killing of Dugina during a Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
The state-owned Sputnik news agency quoted him as saying the bombing “demonstrates the nature of the Ukrainian state, because the connection between their saboteurs and this murder is obvious, which, in fact, has already been disclosed by the FSB.”
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