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Russia launches murder investigation after car bomb kills daughter of key Putin ally

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The daughter of the Russian ultra-nationalist often referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed Saturday after her car exploded in a possible contract murder, the country’s main investigative body said in a statement.

Daria Dugina “died on the spot” after the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving exploded in Bolshye Vyazemy, a small village southeast of Moscow, the Russian Commission of Inquiry said in a statement on its Telegram channel.

“The investigation believes the crime was pre-planned and of a contractual nature,” the statement said, adding that investigators “determined that the explosive was placed under the floor of the car on the driver’s side.”

A murder investigation has been launched, the statement said.

NBC News has not been able to independently verify this information.

Dugina, 29, was the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept ideology and a staunch supporter of Russia sending troops to Ukraine.

Although Dugin does not hold an official government position, he is believed to have influence over Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His daughter had expressed similar views and had appeared as a commentator on the nationalist TV channel Tsargrad.

“Dasha, like her father, has always been at the forefront of confrontation with the West,” Tsargrad said on Sunday in the familiar form of her name, the Associated Press reported.

Denis Pushilin, head of the separatist People’s Republic of Donetsk, blamed “terrorists of the Ukrainian regime, who tried to kill Alexander Dugin”.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Sunday that his country was involved in the death. “We are not a criminal state,” he told Ukrainian television.

First sanctioned by the United States in 2015, Dugin was the leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, which recruited fighters to fight on behalf of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the US Treasury Department said in a press release last week.

His daughter Dugina was the editor-in-chief of the “United World International” website that suggested Ukraine would “perish” if admitted to NATO, and was also sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in March.

The British government also called her a “frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation related to Ukraine” when it imposed sanctions on her in July. “Dugina has therefore supported and promoted policies or actions that destabilize Ukraine or undermine or threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence,” it said in a statement.

Josh Lederman, Associated Press and Reuters contributed.

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