Many prominent Russians were targeted in assassination attempts during the decade of the 1990s. Recently, they have been going after pro-Russian figures in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine in addition to the businessmen and journalists they have been going after for years.
Daria Dugina, a Russian nationalist commentator, was killed in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow this past weekend. While car bombs were commonplace in 1990s Moscow, they are much less common in today’s Russia under President Vladimir V. Putin.
However, in recent years, the Kremlin’s opponents rather than its supporters have been the ones to be the targets of high-profile assassination attempts in Russia.
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Ukraine has been able to strike at Russian-occupied territory near the front line, but it has yet to show that it can launch a daring attack on such close proximity to the Russian capital.
The murder of Ms. Dugina was especially brazen because it took place in close proximity to the opulent suburb of Rublyovka, where the Russian aristocracy has lavish mansions.
A pro-Kremlin political analyst named Sergei Markov posted the following on the social media platform Telegram: “Rublyovka is shivering.” This is a message to them that they, too, could be the target of a terrorist attack: “Be afraid, you could be next.”
Miss Dugina was killed in an explosion on Saturday night, and many details about the incident are still unknown. According to Russian state television, the explosion was so strong that it shattered the windows of nearby homes.
Some Russian critics of the Kremlin have speculated that the attack may have been engineered by proponents of the war to push Mr. Putin to escalate the conflict, while on Sunday, Ms. Dugina’s associates and pro-Kremlin commentators blamed Ukraine, accusations that Kyiv rejected.
Russian journalist and Putin critic Yulia Latynina speculated that Ms. Dugina’s murder could have been a false flag operation to justify repressions inside the country or to quiet the increasingly vocal pro-war party that has turned critical of the Kremlin.
In a video posted to YouTube, she warned that “this murder can be followed by total terror.”
In any case, the attack marked a significant turning point in the troubled annals of assassinations in both Russia and Ukraine. The poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny in 2020 was the most high-profile assassination attempt in Russia in recent years, until this weekend.
Using a military-grade nerve agent from the Soviet era made Russia appear suspicious, despite official denials of responsibility from Moscow. Opponents of Mr. Putin or his close allies have been targeted in other incidents as well, including the shooting deaths of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow in 2006 and former Chechen separatist commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in a Berlin park in 2019.
However, prominent Putin supporters are rarely attacked. Oles Buzina, a prominent Ukrainian journalist, was murdered in Kyiv in 2015. He took a strong pro-Russian stance and pushed for closer ties between Ukraine and Russia.
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