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Ex-Russian MP claims Russian partisans responsible for Moscow car bomb

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A former member of Russia’s Duma who was expelled for anti-Kremlin activities has claimed that Russian partisans were allegedly behind a car bomb which blew up the daughter of one of Vladimir Putin’s close political allies on the outskirts of Moscow.

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Speaking in Kyiv, where he is based, Ilya Ponomarev alleged the explosion on Saturday evening was the work of the National Republican Army, which he claimed was an underground group working inside Russia and dedicated to overthrowing the Putin regime.

The Guardian has not verified the authenticity of Ponomarev’s claims. Russian commentators have blamed Ukraine for the attack, a claim Kyiv strongly denies.

“This action, like many other partisan actions carried out on the territory of Russia in recent months, was carried out by the National Republican Army (NRA),” Ponomarev said. He was speaking in a 7pm broadcast on February Morning, a Russian-language opposition TV channel he launched in Kyiv earlier this year.

He added: “A momentous event took place near Moscow last night. This attack opens a new page in Russian resistance to Putinism. New – but not the last.”

The blast killed Darya Dugina, the 30-year-old daughter of the Russian political commentator and far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin, both of whom had been sanctioned by the UK and US for acting to destabilise Ukraine.

Ponomarev said partisans inside Russia were ready to conduct further similar attacks against high-profile Kremlin-connected targets, including officials, oligarchs and members of Russia’s security agencies.

The former deputy read what purported to be an NRA manifesto: “We declare President Putin a usurper of power and a war criminal who amended the Constitution, unleashed a fratricidal war between the Slavic peoples and sent Russian soldiers to certain and senseless death.

“Poverty and coffins for some, palaces for others the essence of his policy. We believe that disenfranchised people have the right to rebel against tyrants. Putin will be deposed and destroyed by us!”

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Ponomarev confirmed his comments in a message sent by text. A leftwing member of Russia’s parliament, he was the only deputy to vote in 2014 against the annexation of Crimea.

A vengeful Kremlin barred him when he was on a trip to the US from re-entering his own country. He became a Ukrainian citizen in 2019. In March, after the invasion of Ukraine, he launched February Morning and Rozpartisan, a Telegram channel which gives news updates of anti-war actions in Russian towns and cities.

Ponomarev’s feud with Putin is well known. His claim there is an active indigenous underground movement seeking to assassinate prominent supporters of the war inside Russia would, if true, mark a dramatic escalation. It is likely to enrage – if not necessarily convince – the Kremlin.

The alleged manifesto declared that the Russian government and regional administrations are Putin’s “accomplices”.

“Those who do not resign their power will be destroyed by us,” it said.

Other targets include corrupt businessmen, the homes and properties of those who fail to condemn the Kremlin and its war, and “employees of power structures”. Military cargoes and people who profit from them will also be wiped out, it said.

The statement promised the NRA would not target civilians. It described Daria Dugina as a legitimate target and “faithful companion” to her father, who supported genocide in Ukraine. “She was a voice calling for violence and murder” in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, it stated.

Prominent Russian hawks have demanded the Kremlin respond by targeting government officials in Kyiv. “Decision-making centres!! Decision-making centres!!!” wrote Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the state-funded RT television station, reposting a call to bomb the headquarters of the Ukrainian SBU intelligence agency.

The image used to illustrate this article was changed on 21 August 2022 because an earlier one, due to a captioning error in an agency-supplied image, did not show Ilya Ponomarev.

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