Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, police work in Russia has become easier because arresting and prosecuting critics of the war has become a priority. Organized crime, corruption and street crime were neglected while the police tended to critics of the war and those who threatened pro-war Russians. Such was the case in August when Darya, the 29-year-old daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a prominent pro-Putin nationalist and outspoken proponent of “greater (larger) Russia”, was killed by a car bomb in her car. Darya shared and enthusiastically promoted her father’s pro-war beliefs. Her death was seen as a direct assault on pro-war Russians and the police, with the help of the FSB (Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB) were ordered to find and arrest whoever was responsible. Within 36 hours the culprit was identified as Natalya Vovk, a 42-year-old Ukrainian woman who had driven to Moscow a month earlier, accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter and rented an apartment in the same building that Darya lived in. In the weeks preceding the bombing Natalya observed Darya and her routine. On August 20th Natalya allegedly planted the bomb in Darya’s car and promptly left the country with her daughter. First Natalya allegedly changed the license plates on her car and then drove to Estonia without incident. The FSB “lost track” of Natalya Vovk after that but declared the crime solved.
The FSB didn’t solve the murder of Darya, but did send a message to someone, possibly her father Aleksandr Dugin. While a popular pro-Putin nationalist, Aleksandr Dugin was uncomfortably unpredictable and this annoyed Putin, or at least some Putin associates. It seemed more likely that the bombing was a warning for Aleksandr Dugin to not stray too far from whatever the official government position was on Ukraine and similar nationalist subjects. A month ago, there were many Putin associates warning that Russia might be driven out of Ukraine. Recent events in Ukraine, where Russian forces suffered a massive defeat, seemed to back that glum assessment. Another problem with Dugin was that he advocated violence against critics of his beliefs. This was seen as a threat to the Russian government and that sort of thing has never been tolerated by any Russian government.
Such murders are nothing new for the FSB or Putin, who is accused of several similar murders over the las two decades. That makes more sense than a mysterious Ukrainian agent and her daughter coming to Moscow, carrying out the killing and then magically disappearing.