Pro-Kremlin writer injured in car explosion in Russia

Tallinn – The car of a prominent pro-Kremlin writer blew up in Russia on Saturday, injuring him and killing his driver, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported, citing emergency and law enforcement officials.

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

It is the third blast involving prominent 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 brain”. Authorities claimed that Ukraine was behind the blast.

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

Niznhy Novgorod regional governor Gleb Nikitin said Prilepin suffered minor fractures and is receiving medical attention.

Russian news agency RBC, citing unnamed sources, reported that Prilepin was traveling back to Moscow from the partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine on Saturday, stopping in the Nizhny Novgorod 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 was involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine alongside the Russian-backed separatists. Last year he was sanctioned by the European Union for his support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In 2020 he founded a political party, For the Truth, which according to Russian media reports was backed by the Kremlin. A year later, Prilepin’s party merged with the nationalist Fair Russia party, which has seats in parliament.

As co-chair of the newly formed party, Prilepin won but relinquished a seat in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, in the 2021 elections.

Party leader Sergei Mironov called Saturday’s incident “an act of terrorism” and blamed Ukraine. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova echoed Mironov’s view in a post on messaging app Telegram, adding that responsibility also rests with the US and NATO.

“Washington and NATO have nurtured another international terrorist cell – the Kiev regime,” Zakharova wrote. “Direct responsibility of the US and UK. We pray for Zakhar.”

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

Ukrainian officials have not directly commented on the allegations. However, Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak appeared to point the finger at the Kremlin in a tweet on Saturday, saying that “in order to prolong the agony of Putin’s clan and maintain the illusion of ‘total control’, the Russian repressive machinery picking up pace and catching up with everyone,” including supporters of the Ukraine war.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

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