Russian nationalist writer wounded in car bombing, driver killed

MOSCOW – A prominent Russian nationalist writer, Mr Zakhar Prilepin, was wounded in a car bombing that killed his driver on Saturday, an attack that Russia immediately blamed on Ukraine and the West.

The state Investigative Committee said the writer’s Audi Q7 was blown up in a village in the Nizhny Novgorod region, about 400km east of Moscow, which it was treating as an act of terrorism. It said Mr Prilepin had been taken to hospital.

The committee released a photograph showing the white vehicle lying overturned on a track next to a wooded area, with a deep crater beside it and fragments of metal strewn nearby.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said a suspect had been arrested.

State news agency TASS quoted security sources as saying they had found an apartment in the Moscow region where they believed the bomb could have been assembled.

It was the third bomb attack on a leading pro-war figure inside Russia since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. Russia has blamed Ukraine for the deaths of the two previous targets, which Kyiv has denied.

There was no immediate word from Ukraine on the latest incident.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram: “The fact has come true: Washington and Nato fed another international terrorist cell – the Kyiv regime.”

She said it was the “direct responsibility of the US and Britain” but provided no evidence to support the accusation.

“We pray for Zakhar,” she added.

Officials at the White House, Pentagon and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. No comment was immediately available from Britain’s Foreign Office.

TASS quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as declining to comment in the absence of information from investigators.

The agency said former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev had sent a telegram to Mr Prilepin, calling the incident “a vile attack by Nazi extremists”.

Mr Prilepin is a novelist who is known as an outspoken supporter of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where Moscow’s invasion is in its 15th month.

He is a prolific exponent of nationalist views, with more than 300,000 followers on Telegram and his website and YouTube channel.

He fought for Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine’s region of Donbas before the full-scale invasion in February 2022 and led a military unit there, boasting in a 2019 YouTube interview that his unit “killed people in big numbers”.

“These people are dead, they are buried and… there are many of them,” he said. “Not a single unit among the Donetsk battalions had such results. It was outrageous chaos what we did there… Not a single field commander had such results as I had.”

Saturday’s incident followed the assassination of military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky who was killed in a bomb attack in a St Petersburg cafe in April. Last August, Ms Darya Dugina, the daughter of a nationalist ideologue, died in a car bombing near Moscow.

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