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The Pope and Darya Dugina

Frederick Lauritzen

26th August 2022

Pope Francis, on August 24th, Ukraine Independence Day, singled out Darya Dugina as an innocent victim of war. The Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, summoned the Papal Nuncio on August 26th. He gave a formal complaint concerning the Pope’s statement. Darya Dugina was killed in a remotely detonated car explosion.

The car bomb was the signature weapon of the IRA during the troubles in Northern Ireland. Seán Mac Stíofáin, IRA chief of staff (1969-1972) indicated that the car bomb was a strategic and tactical weapon. Strategically it disrupts government administration and tactically it obliges the enemy forces to concentrate in the area under attack.

Moscow has been attacked in a manner well known to the IRA.

So why did Kuleba summon the ambassador and make a formal complaint?

The reason was the following statement on the 24th August during a papal audience in Rome “I think of that poor girl blown up by a bomb under the seat of her car in Moscow,” the pope said. “Innocents pay the price of war, innocents!”

It appears that the Pope and he disagree on what a person is. Pope Francis indicated that Dugina is simply a person, i.e., a person like another. Kuleba has pointed out that the person had political opinions which incited war against the Ukrainians. She had appeared on Russian television supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Her father, Alexander Dugin, has often repeated that Ukraine was not a country and invoked the elimination of the Ukrainian population.

It appears that the Pope was indicating that she was simply a victim in war, and her opinions were meaningless. But then why did he single her out on Ukrainian Independence Day, instead of the numerous others who have died in the conflict zone (or other conflict zones)?

Kuleba instead indicated that her person could not be separated from her opinions. She was not simply a collection of muscles and bones, but her ideas were an integral part of her as a human.

The argument is centred on the notion of innocence. Pope Francis claimed she was an ‘innocent’ victim. Innocent derives from a Latin word—innocens—meaning ‘which cannot harm’. Dugina was not harmless according to Kuleba.

The opinions she held were the reason Russia invaded Ukraine. She did not invent these opinions, nor was she their source or origin but expressed them clearly and therefore perpetuated them publicly.

The question that plagues the West is if her father was the origin of these ideas. Did Alexander Dugin’s book, ‘The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia’ published in 1997, inspire the opinions within the Kremlin which led to war?

Kuleba seems to say that Dugina’s opinions caused the invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, she was not innocent.

The Pope seems to say, Dugina, was a person with negligible and harmless opinions, and therefore was innocent.

Both agree that she died and how it happened. They disagree on the influence of her opinions —worthless for the Pope and dangerous for Kuleba.


Whoever killed her thought her opinions needed to be physically eliminated. The attack was done in a manner which makes no strategic and no tactical sense, according to the definitions of the IRA chief of staff. It may remain a unique event in this war.

The problem is that Kuleba has expressed a widely held opinion in Ukraine that Dugina was not innocent. He fulfilled his role as an elected official and represented his constituents by issuing a formal complaint.


The Pope has angered Ukrainian and Eastern European Catholics. He has not pleased the Russian public opinion who see the Jesuits (the Pope is one) and the Catholic Church through the lens of Dostoevsky’s ‘Grand Inquisitor’ (in ‘Brothers Karamazov’, 1880). He is considered a clear depiction of the West corrupting Russia. This view of the West is the opinion expressed precisely by Darya Dugina.

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