Pro-Kremlin novelist injured in car explosion in Russia

TALLIN – The car of a prominent pro-Kremlin novelist exploded in Russia on Saturday, injuring him and killing his driver, Russian news agency Tass reported, citing emergency services and law enforcement officials.

The incident involving the car of Zakhar Prilepin, a well-known nationalist writer and ardent supporter of what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, took place in the Nizhny Novgorod region, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the east. from Moscow.

This is the third explosion involving pro-Kremlin figures since the start of the war in Ukraine.

In August 2022, a car bomb attack on the outskirts of Moscow killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as “Putin’s mastermind”. Authorities alleged that Ukraine was the source of the explosion.

Last month, an explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe killed popular military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky. Officials once again blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies.

Niznhy Novgorod regional governor Gleb Nikitin said Prilepin suffered minor bone fractures and was receiving medical help.

Russian newspaper RBC reported, citing unnamed sources, that Prilepin was returning to Moscow on Saturday from the partially occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and stopped in the Nizhny Novogorod region for a meal.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said a suspect had been arrested. Russian news reports identified him as a native of Ukraine who had previously been convicted of robbery.

Prilepin became a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 after Putin illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula. He has been involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine alongside Russian-backed separatists. Last year he was sanctioned by the European Union for his support for the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In 2020, he founded a political party, For Truth, which Russian media said was backed by the Kremlin. A year later, Prilepin’s party merged with the nationalist Just Russia party, which sits in parliament.

Co-chairman of the newly formed party, Prilepin won a seat in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, in the 2021 elections, but gave it up.

Party leader Sergei Mironov called Saturday’s incident “an act of terrorism” and blamed Ukraine. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova echoed Mironov’s sentiment in a message on the Telegram messaging app, adding that the blame also lies with the United States and NATO.

“Washington and NATO fed another international terrorist cell – the kyiv regime,” Zakharova wrote. “Direct responsibility of the United States and Great Britain. We pray for Zakhar.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, former President Dmitry Medvedev, blamed “Nazi extremists” in a telegram he sent to Prilepin.

Ukrainian officials did not comment directly on the allegations. However, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, in a tweet on Saturday, appeared to point the finger at the Kremlin, saying that “to prolong the agony of Putin’s clan and maintain the illusory ‘total control’, the Russian machine of repression resumes pace and catches up with everyone,” including supporters of the war in Ukraine.

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