RUSSIA’S invasion of Ukraine may have been inspired by the writings of a deranged Neo-Nazi mystic known as “Putin’s Rasputin” or “Putin’s Brain” who survived a reported assassination attempt.
Sporting a massive bedraggled beard like his namesake, Russian thinker Aleksandr Dugin long called for an invasion of Ukraine and chillingly believes that Moscow has the right to rule over all of Europe and Asia.
Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin has been dubbed ‘Putin’s brain’Credit: Rex
Putin’s recent rhetoric appears closer to Dugin’s worldviewCredit: Reuters
Dugin has drawn comparisons to the ‘Mad Monk’ RasputinCredit: Alamy
His daughter was killed in a car bomb attackCredit: East2West
Dugin last night narrowly dodged a car bomb blast that killed his daughter.
Dugin and his daughter were guests of honour at the Tradition family festival at the Zakharovo estate and had planned to leave together, according to violinist and pal Peter Lundstrem.
But Dugin hopped into another vehicle and unknowingly dodged the attempted assassination.
Minutes later the far-right racist philosopher was pictured holding his head in horror as he stood amid the aftermath of the explosion.
Darya, 35, is said to have been killed instantly when her Toyota Land Cruiser Prado erupted in a fireball blast in Bolshie Vyazemy, on the outskirts of Russia’s capital.
Dubbed a philosopher, a mystic, a political analyst and a fascist, Dugin is thought by some to hold a key influence on Putin’s Russia and his views are believed to have – at least in part – been a key influence in the thinking for the invasion.
His writings – which have been required reading for Russian soldiers – proclaim a paranoid worldview that calls for Ukraine to be absorbed into Russia.
And he demands Moscow control everything “from Vladivostok to Dublin”.
This is a massive area that spans more than 5,000 miles and encompasses huge swathes of territory from the far east of Russia to western Europe.
It is a chilling vision of what could be to come as the world watches brutal horrors continue to unfold in the war-torn cities in Ukraine.
He is believed to hold a shadowy influence over Russian politics – just like Rasputin – and his ideas are even suspected to have influenced Putin.
And the wake of Russia’s renewed nationalism and warmongering, he is believed to potentially be on the rise once again to whisper into the ear of the Kremlin.
Today, he has become a more marginal figure, but in the 1990s, as Putin was rising through the ranks of Russia’s political elite, Dugin was a deeply influential figure in shaping Russian geopolitics.
Born in Moscow in 1962, Dugin began writing in the late 1980s, as the Soviet Union was falling apart.
He is most famous for his 1997 book Foundations of Geopolitics, which sets out his ultranationalist and neo-fascist ideology of Neo-Eurasianism.
This belief states that the world is made up of “land powers” and “sea powers”, and that as the great land nation, Russia should exert its influence over all of Europe and Asia.
And his mysticism comes from his beliefs in divine right and his touting of ancient legends about the sunken city of Atlantis and the mythical civilisation Hyperborea.
He believes Russia is the modern-day reincarnation of the ancient “Hyperboreans” – who need to stand at odds with the modern-day “Atlanteans”, the United States.
His influence on Russian politics, as well as his huge beard and piercing eyes, have also seen him compared to Rasputin, the notorious advisor to the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, and alleged lover to his wife.
Speaking to The Sun Online, Marlene Laruelle, Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University, explained the current war in Ukraine presents the 60-year-old with new possibilities to get close again to the seat of power.
“The war could give him a new field for influence,” she said.
“Putin’s regime has made an ideological turn towards nationalism and repression, and this could present new opportunities for Dugin.”
Dugin’s future success, she explained, depends on the fortune of his patron, the Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev.
The 47-year-old is chair of the board of directors for Russian TV channel Tsargrad, which has been used frequently by Dugin, as well as by the US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
What Putin is doing now in Ukraine, and how he speaks about Russia’s neighbour, sounds like Dugin in the 1990s
Malofeev was sanctioned by the US, EU, and Canada in 2014, and in 2017, Ukraine accused him of creating illegal paramilitary groups and placed him on the international wanted list.
“The new context of the war could give all the nationalist entrepreneurs of influence like Malofeev new access to some of the corridors of power,” Laruelle said. “It could be easier for Dugin to get the ears of the Kremlin than it was before.”
Laruelle characterises Dugin as a “fascist”, who “believes in the need for regeneration of the nation through violence and war”.
He frames the revival of Russia as a “Eurasian” superpower in this way.
Dugin’s influential 1997 book Foundations of Geopolitics – featuring a map of his dream of a Russian sphere of influence and the eight pointed ‘Chaos Star’
This idea of a “new man” who will emerge from conflict is a central part of classic fascism, Laruelle explains.
She also points to Dugin’s use of the “Symbol of Chaos”, a modern occultist symbol also used by the far right, on the cover of his 1997 book Foundations of Geopolitics, which was once required reading at some Russian military academies.
“This is a very classical symbol used by the far-right and the alt-right,” she explained.
“Dugin promotes these ideas of a pan-European empire, Aryan identity, neo-Paganism, all mixed with the Russian Orthodox church.”
Andreas Umland, an analyst at the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies, agrees with Laruelle that Dugin’s influence on modern Russia has been exaggerated, but says there is reason to believe he has “exerted some influence” on the broader Russian public.
He told The Sun Online: “What Putin is doing now in Ukraine, and how he speaks about Russia’s neighbour, sounds like Dugin in the 1990s.
“This radical anti-Ukrainian position which Putin takes was something that was only on the fringes when Dugin first wrote about it.”
He added that the recent development in Putin’s fiery language about Ukraine in the West in general is tied to many of Dugin’s writings.
“Dugin is serious when he talks about a Russian ’empire of influence’ from Vladivostok to Dublin,” Umland said.
“This is taken from older ideas about a battle fought between sea powers and land powers.
“As Russia is at the centre of this Eurasian landmass, it should unite all of the land powers around itself.
“His idea is that the entire Eurasian continent should be one big super-empire, including Germany and France.
“He believes all American influence should be removed from Europe, and that the UK, as an English-speaking European outcrop, should be separated from Europe.”
Dugin had close ties to Russia’s military in the 1990s and 2000s
Along with Eduard Limonov (pictured) he founded the National Bolshevik PartyCredit: AFP
Members of National Bolshevik Party wave the flags emblazoned with the hammer and sickleCredit: Rex
Central to Dugin’s Eurasian empire theory is a much older idea, steeped in Russia’s Tsarist past, known as Novorossiya, or New Russia.
As Umland explains: “Novorossiya was used by the Tsarist regime in the 18th century when southern and eastern Ukraine, as well as Crimea, was conquered under Catherine the Great.
“At the time, these territories didn’t have big Russian populations, but the term ‘New Russia’ was given to describe these seized lands.
“This imperialist term reappeared in the words of Dugin and later Putin.”
He added that Dugin’s ideology ties together features of satanism, paganism, Russian Orthodox Christianity, and fascism.
Dugin, a little-known figure in Russia in the 1980s, began publishing books and pamphlets “at a time when Russian nationalists were looking for a figurehead,” Laruelle explained.
He arrived with ideas that “were original at the time, such as Russia as a Eurasian continent, and with a well-articulated anti-Western stance,” she added.
“At the time, he was the only person writing like this. He was well-connected with the military academies, and was able to establish his niche.”
His ability to speak English and other non-Russian languages also made him a more international figure, and he built up links with the far-right in Europe.
WHO WAS RASPUTIN?
Described as ‘Russia’s greatest love machine’ by Boney M, the ‘Mad Monk’ remains a controversial figure to this day
- Born to illiterate peasants in a remote Siberian village in 1869
- At 18, he married Praskovya Dubrovina and they had seven children
- In 1897 he had a religious awakening, claiming he could heal the sick
- He was eventually introduced to the Tsar and his wife
- The Tsarina believed Rasputin could stop her son Alexei’s bleeding fits
- Rather than magic, this was down to him calming the child, stemming the flow, and stopping doctors prescribing him aspirin, a blood thinner
- His lack of manners and shocking hygiene scandalised Russian society
- A drunken Rasputin once exposed his penis and bragged about having sex with the Tsar’s wife
- When asked to explain himself to Nicholas, he said: “Despite my terrible sins, I am a Christ in miniature.”
- Whether or not he had sex with the Tsarina isn’t known, but he undoubtedly slept with the wives of many powerful Russian leaders
- He survived at least one assassination attempt but was finally killed in 1916 by Russian nobles threatened by his closeness to the throne
In 1993, along with former Soviet dissident and author Eduard Limonov, Dugin founded the National Bolshevik Party.
Its party flag features the hammer and sickle from the Soviet Union, but the white circle on a red background from the Nazi banner.
Just as their flag represented the coming-together of far-left and far-right, so Dugin and Limonov looked to link fascists and communists.
Umland said that although both men were fascists, Limonov was more of an artist and Russian traditionalist, while Dugin was more well-read in politics and philosophy.
Laruelle agreed, adding their trajectories separated in the late 1990s and even more in the 2000s as Limonov became more openly critical of Putin and the new Russia.
Dugin remained pro-Putin throughout, supporting the new president’s foreign policy.
However, in the late 2000s, when President Putin had started to turn towards nationalism and patriotism, Dugin became a more marginal figure, even though, in theory, his ideas had become the mainstream.
Laruelle says that although Dugin contributed to the broad success of the notion of Eurasia, once it became successful, he didn’t get recognition for it.
Today, Laruelle claims Dugin is a more marginal figure, his ideas too philosophical to easily translate to Putin’s populist politics.
Umland agrees, branding him more of an “influential publicist” than anything else.
But he continues to speak out in support of Putin, presenting himself as the spiritual core behind Putin’s plans for ever-expanding Russian influence.
Whether he is a Rasputin-type figure or just a great self-promoter is still a matter for debate.
As Russian Andrei Kolesnikov from the Carnegie Moscow Centre told The Sun Online: “Dugin’s influence is strongly over-estimated, it is zero.
“It has nothing in common with Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine except for some ideological points, but Putin can invent them himself.”
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