- The daughter of a key political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin was killed in a car blast in Moscow on 20 August 2022.
- There is speculation that her father, Alexander Dugin, was the intended target.
- Dugin is a Russian nationalist whose ideas could cause political and economic instability.
On 20 August 2022, Russian journalist and political activist Darya Dugina was killed in a car bomb in the outskirts of Moscow. Dugina has written for the Russian state-owned news organisation RT and United World International.
Both the UK and US had sanctioned Dugina for trying to destabilise Ukraine. According to the Guardian, the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation called Dugina a ‘frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation in relation to Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine on various online platforms.’
Reportedly, Dugina’s father, a prominent political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had intended to travel in the car with her but changed his mind at the last minute. This has led to speculation that Dugin was the real target of the attack.
Who Is Alexander Dugin?
Dugin is a mysterious figure in Russian politics. His influence on Putin is widely disputed. Frequently described in the media as ‘Putin’s brain’, Dugin’s ideas appear to closely mirror recent Russian foreign policy. Dugin, however, holds no official post in government and was reportedly fired from Moscow State University, a decision Putin may have personally approved. As one commentator puts it, ‘He is at once claimed to be a significant influence to Vladimir Putin and reportedly out of favour in Moscow at the same time.’
Nonetheless, Dugin has contributed significantly to the climate of nationalism in Russia, and many of his specific ideas no doubt deeply appeal to the president.
What Are His Views?
Dugin’s main political philosophy, Eurasianism, is a mix of old-fashioned Russian imperial ambition and modern anti-globalism. But the extent to which it is fascist, anti-liberal or conservative is difficult to say. His views are a unique combination of ideas from all over the political spectrum. But one clear common thread runs through them: Russian nationalism.
We must understand Dugin’s views in the context of his early life. In his account of the rise of modern Russian nationalism, Charles Clover describes Dugin as a child of the Soviet Union of the late ’60s and ’70s, when the optimistic vision of a consumer paradise was fading and stagnation had begun to set in.
In his teenage years, Dugin became involved in anti-Soviet activism and joined the literary circles of the Soviet mystic underground, whose opposition to the USSR took the form of fascist symbolism and mysticism. In the 1970s, Dugin connected with European New Right thinkers such as Alan de Benoist in France, whom he visited personally.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Dugin’s nationalist views found a ready audience. His most influential work, Foundations of Geopolitics, was allegedly used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military in the ’90s. As Russian foreign policy hardened in the late 2000s and 2010s, Dugin’s ideas seemed to increasingly mirror the actions of the Russian government.
A Summary of Dugin’s Ideas
- Restoring a multipolar world order with a powerful Russia standing between the West and the East.
- Opposing globalism and liberalism on the basis that these ideologies erase cultural and ethnic differences.
- Elevating Russia to the status of the centre of Orthodox ‘civilisation’ with a sphere of influence covering central Asia and Eastern Europe.
- Annexing territories on Russia’s border such as Eastern Ukraine (including Crimea), Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and Moldova.
- Pursuing a campaign of destabilisation and subversion in the West, particularly the US, to provoke instability and support dissident movements (including the aim of separating the United Kingdom from the rest of Europe).
- Using Russia’s natural resources to exert influence on Europe and neighbouring countries.
- On China, his views have varied: in the Foundations of Geopolitics, he identifies China as a rival civilisation and significant threat, with the potential to annex Siberia. However, he has increasingly adopted a more positive tone, seeing China as a potential ally against American hegemony.
What Are the Market Implications?
While Dugin rarely discusses economics directly, his views have clear geopolitical and economic implications.
- His opposition to liberalism and globalism would lead to the disruption of the global economic order – he advocates for smaller, regional political and economic organisations and against global institutions.
- His support for using Russia’s abundant natural resources as an economic weapon could further destabilise oil and gas markets (although Russia’s oil exports may far exceed its trade partners’ needs) and other key Russian exports.
- Further annexations could lead to more disruption to exports from affected countries and damage European growth.
Matthew Harris is a research intern here at The Hive.