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Russian nationalist writer wounded in car bombing, driver killed

2023-05-06T12:17:33Z

Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin poses for a picture in his flat in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, December 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mikhail Beznosov/File Photo

A prominent Russian nationalist writer, 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 Nizny Novgorod region, about 400 km (250 miles) east of Moscow, which it was treating as an act of terrorism. It said he had been taken to hospital.

An interior ministry spokeswoman said a suspect had been arrested.

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 spokeswoman 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 U.S. and Britain”, but provided no evidence to support the accusation.

“We pray for Zakhar,” she said.

State news agency 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 Prilepin, calling the incident “a vile attack by Nazi extremists”.

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 own website and YouTube channel.

He fought for Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine’s region of Donbas before Moscow’s full-scale invasion last year 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 a military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, in a cafe in St Petersburg last month. Last August Darya Dugina, the daughter of a nationalist ideologue, was killed in a car bombing near Moscow.