Russian intelligence accused Ukrainian “special services” of carrying out a car bombing that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of an influential Russian ultra-nationalist who has backed Moscow’s invasion.
The killing of Dugina on Saturday sparked speculation over who was behind the attack, with Kyiv denying any involvement.
An explosive device blew up the Toyota Land Cruiser that Dugina was driving on a highway outside of Moscow, Russian investigators said.
Russian media reported her father, Alexander Dugin, who has backed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, switched cars with his daughter shortly before the blast.
Dugin – a philosopher, writer and political theorist who some in the West have dubbed “Putin’s brain” – is believed by some to have been the intended target.
In a statement on Monday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the KGB, said the “crime was prepared and committed by Ukrainian special services”.
The Russian intelligence service said a woman and her teenage daughter arrived in Russia in July and spent a month preparing the attack by renting an apartment in the same housing block and researching Dugina’s lifestyle.
The alleged assailant was at an event outside Moscow on Saturday evening that Dugina and her father also attended, before carrying out a “controlled explosion” of Dugina’s car and then fleeing Russia to Estonia, FSB said.
The intelligence agency also released security surveillance video of the alleged killer along with her military ID, claiming her to belong to Ukraine’s Azov regiment.
The accusation comes after former Russian politician Ilya Ponomarev, who is now living in Ukraine, posted a video on YouTube late Sunday saying an unknown opposition movement, called the National Republican Army, committed the attack.
Ponomarev said the bombing “opens a new page of Russian resistance against Putinism. A new page – but it won’t be the last”.
Defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told Al Jazeera there are more questions than answers surrounding the killing.
“What they [FSB] say is this was a targeted attack against the daughter, not the father. I find it rather strange, all of it. It’s a bizarre thing,” he said.
“For a professional security service to send a mother and daughter hit squad – it’s a novelty like American SEALS or Israeli intelligence operatives. The culprits miraculously got across the border into Estonia out of reach, and that leaves a lot of question marks.”
Darya Dugina was a fierce supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and often espoused her father’s views in support of Russian imperialism on nationalist TV channel Tsargrad, but observers have noted she was not a widely known figure.
Some analysts have called her father “Putin’s Rasputin”, referring to Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, who insinuated himself with the last emperor of Russia, Nicholas II.
Others have debated how much influence the media personality had on Putin and his policies.
Alexander Dugin is a vehement supporter of Russia sending troops into Ukraine and is a prominent proponent of the “Russian world” concept – a spiritual and political ideology that emphasises traditional values, restoration of Russia’s power, and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world.
He helped popularise the “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia” concept that Russia used to justify the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Darya Dugina was sanctioned by the US in March for her work as chief editor of United World International, a website that Washington has described as a source of disinformation.
In an appearance on Russian television last week, Dugina called the United States “a zombie society” where people oppose Russia but cannot find it on a map.
Putin on Monday conveyed his personal condolences over the 29-year-old’s death.
“As a journalist, scientist, philosopher and war correspondent, she served the people and the country with sincerity, illustrating through her actions what being a Russian patriot means,” he said.