Letter From the Editors

This week, Darya Dugina – the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, author of the so-called Fourth Political Theory espousing Eurasianism – died in a fiery car explosion after leaving a far-right festival outside of Moscow. Her father, who was not in the car at the time, was the apparent target of the blast. Although Dugin has been portrayed as the “Kremlin’s ideologue” and the force behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most experts interviewed in this week’s issue agreed that he is a “third-class propagandist,” “small potatoes,” and a “marginal writer known for spewing nonsense and nastiness.” However, experts disagreed on who exactly planted the explosive device, with opinions ranging from “Ukrainian nationalists” to an “anti-Putin group,” and even pro-Kremlin forces like the FSB.

Dugina herself appeared on talk shows and was active on social media. However, political analyst Anton Shekhovtsov tells Republic.ru: “Her speeches did not contain any original ideas; she was merely a pale shadow of her father.*** Basically she just parroted his narratives.” This must have been a source of pride for her father, though, who said tearfully at her funeral: “She lived for victory. Our victory. Our truth. Our Orthodoxy. Our country. Our dominion.”

 No love, however, has been lost between Diana Isakova and her father, Russian Senator Eduard Isakov, a zealous Putin supporter. As Meduza reports, Isakova, who always considered herself apolitical growing up, began speaking out about political issues after learning about extrajudicial killings of gay men in Chechnya. Even though she deleted a social media post on this topic at the request of her father, who regularly belittled her interests when she was a child, she continued to follow political issues closely. After Russia invaded Ukraine, Isakova found she could no longer remain silent and was ultimately arrested for distributing antiwar fliers. She now lives abroad, where she is working on a project to involve psychologists in helping people understand Putin’s “language of violence.” She blames Russia’s “archaic cruelty” on its political system, which is “likely made up of people who experienced violence in childhood, and developed a tolerance for it and a feeling that no other way is possible.”

Indeed, the brutal legacy of the Fatherland is still haunting territorial conflicts that persist throughout the former Soviet space today. For example, Azerbaijan is set to take control of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Lachin corridor on Aug. 25, even though that area is not scheduled to come under Baku’s jurisdiction until 2023. This pressure is not viewed favorably by the Armenians, who fear yet another escalation and have little faith that Russian peacekeepers in the area will protect their interests.

Meanwhile, protesters in Gagauzia, an autonomy of Moldova, want to circumvent Moldovan officials and hold direct negotiations with Moscow in the face of severe fuel shortages. Gagauz officials are also concerned about preserving the republic’s autonomous status if Romanian troops enter Moldova because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. This sets the stage for a potential clash hearkening back to the 1990 conflict sparked by the proclamation of the Gagauz Republic.

And then there’s Ukraine, where disaster is looming at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. In an article for Izvestia, Mikhail Troyansky and Oleg Karpovich maintain that Ukraine is shelling Russian positions at the plant and that the West has repeatedly interfered to prevent IAEA teams from visiting. It is only Russia’s “transparent regime” at the plant that they say is staving off another Chernobyl for now.

To be sure, then, there is some validity to Isakova’s argument that “Russia’s political illiberalism is a consequence of authoritarianism in the family.” But how to overcome this? Perhaps the answer lies in a father figure like Yevgeny Roizman, Yekaterinburg’s popular ex-mayor who was detained this week for discrediting Russia’s Armed Forces. Roizman, who is famous for his public receptions, is just the sort of prominent person who could help turn the tide of violence sweeping over the region.