Russia is working to blame another Ukrainian for the killing of political commentator Darya Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a prominent Russian philosopher known as “Putin’s Brain,” often credited with shaping Russia’s narrative about Ukraine.
On Monday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) released a statement identifying Bohdan Tsyganenko as an alleged participant in preparing the car bomb that killed Dugina, according to state news agency TASS.
In their statement, the FSB alleged that he arrived in Russia via transit from Estonia on July 30 and left the day before the attack took place. The FSB, the successor to the Russian KGB, also accused Tsyganenko of preparing a fake ID and fake license plates for an alleged co-conspirator, Natalya Vovk, whom the Russians previously blamed for the fatal attack on August 20.
The FSB blamed Tsyganenko for providing Vovk with fake documents under the name of Yulia Zaiko, a citizen of Kazakhstan, to fly under the radar.
The agency first identified Vovk as an alleged suspect in the hit job only a day after the incident took place. In their initial report, the FSB accused the Ukrainian national of remotely detonating the bomb from her Mini Cooper after following Dugina to a cultural festival. Vovk was accused of bringing her 12-year-old daughter along for the mission before fleeing to Estonia.
Russia previously blamed “special services” in Ukraine for carrying out the attack, but said it continues to investigate those responsible. Ukraine has denied involvement in the attack.
The FSB’s series of allegations and effort to quickly blame suspects in this case—when other killings that are several years old haven’t received nearly the same attention in Russia—is the latest indication of just how closely the Kremlin is monitoring and guarding its propaganda proxies.
The United States has identified Dugina as fanning the flames of Russian disinformation.In March, the Biden administration sanctioned her for running United World International, a Russian disinformation site with backing from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s so-called “chef,” Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Dugina’s father, too, ran a website dedicated to spreading disinformation.
United World International has run several disinformation campaigns aimed at spreading anti-Western narratives by using fake accounts, hiring writers to publish on its behalf, and posting about elections and conspiracy theories, according to Facebook, which originally started investigating the group based off of a tip from the FBI. United World International described itself as being against a “unipolar” world, a goal that Russia has worked to promote in recent years and which has fueled some of its narrative about invading Ukraine, according to the Atlantic Council.
The posts were linked with individuals that had worked as part of Russia’s government disinformation arm, the Internet Research Agency, the group that was involved in interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Dugin had also “actively recruited individuals with military and combat experience to fight on behalf of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
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