A fierce Russian ultranationalist has taken a humiliating U-turn after sending a brutal death threat to Vladimir Putin. Political analyst Alexander Dugin walked back his harsh words, in which he openly criticised the despot for failing to defend so-called “Russian cities” – such as Kherson, which has been retaken by Ukraine. According to US think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Dugin alluded that Putin had a responsibility to preserve Russia and deliver on the war, or he would meet an untimely end. But yesterday Dugin, whose daughter was killed in August by a car explosion, took to Telegram to pledge support to the tyrant, insisting that any suggestion of disloyalty was a plot by the West.
Dugin has previously earned the moniker “Putin’s brain”, owing to reports that Putin’s ideology has been highly influenced by Dugin’s writing.
According to the ISW, Dugin said Putin had to preserve Russia or face the fate of “king of the rains”. In a book studying mythology and religion by Sir James Frazer named “The Golden Bough”, a king is killed for failing to provide rain during a drought – suggesting that Dugin believes Putin should face the same fate, should he fail to protect Russia.
Dugin said: “We give the ruler absolute fullness of power, and he saves us all, the people, the state, people, citizens, at a critical moment.
“If for this he surrounds himself with s*** or spits on social justice, this is unpleasant, but if only he saves. Then – the fate of the ‘king of the rains’.”
The commentator added in condemnation of the retreat from Kherson: “The authorities in Russia cannot surrender anything else… the limit has been reached”.
However, yesterday saw Dugin taking a very different perspective.
He wrote: “The West (has) started to imply that I and Russian patriots have turned against Putin after the Kherson surrender, allegedly demanding his resignation. No one has turned their back on Putin, I and all Russian patriots support him unconditionally.”
The writer’s daughter, TV commentator Daria Dugina, 29, was killed in a car explosion in Moscow in August. Russian officials pinned the blame on Ukraine for the attack, suggesting her father was the real target.
However, Russian-American historian Yuri Felshtinsky was highly sceptical about the Kremlin’s version of events.
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Referring to the General Staff of the Armed Forces, another wing of the Russian secret service, he said: “The attack on Alexander Dugin has all the hallmarks of a GRU execution of including the target’s family and would have been authorised by the Kremlin.
“In the UK, the GRU attacked former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018. In 2004, two GRU officers assassinated former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yardarbiyev by blowing up his car with Yardarbiyev and his 15-year old son inside. The two officers were later released at Putin’s request.
“Several Gazprom executives and relatives were similarly targeted as Gazprom has strong GRU connections.”
Russia fled Kherson under heavy bombardment, while footage depicted cheering Ukrainians welcoming soldiers.
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President Volodymyr Zelensky was in the city two days later in a show of bravery and comradeship not mirrored by his opposite number, Putin, who is believed not to have visited the city at all since capturing it.
Kherson is one of many parts of Ukraine facing wartime power shortages.
Since the end of summer, Russian forces have targeted energy infrastructure throughout Ukraine, crippling Kyiv’s ability to keep the lights and heat on as winter approaches.
Mr Zelensky said such attacks amount to “energy terrorism.”
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday: “The coming months will be difficult. Putin’s aim is to leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter so we must stay the course.
“We should not make the mistake of underestimating Russia.”