May 6 (Reuters) – Zakhar Prilepin, a leading Russian nationalist writer, was injured in a car bombing on Saturday that killed his driver, an attack Russia immediately blamed on Ukraine and the West.
The State Investigative Committee declared that the writer’s Audi Q7 had exploded in a village in the Nizhny Novgorod region, some 400 km east of Moscow, and that it was a terrorist act. Prilepin was hospitalized.
The commission released a photo showing the white vehicle overturned on a track next to a forest, with a deep crater next to it and metal fragments scattered nearby.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said a suspect had been arrested. The TASS news agency quoted security sources as saying he is a “native of Ukraine” who had been convicted of violent assault in the past.
The Interfax news agency quoted an emergency services source as saying that Prilepin’s condition was serious and that he was due to undergo surgery.
Prilepin, a novelist who openly advocates the war in Ukraine and who has boasted of taking part in military fighting there, was the third prominent pro-conflict figure to be targeted by a bomb since Moscow invaded in February 2022. .
Russia has blamed Ukraine for the deaths of journalist Darya Dugina and blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in the two previous attacks, but kyiv has denied involvement. Ukraine did not immediately comment on the incident on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram that the attack was “the direct responsibility of the United States and Great Britain” but provided no evidence to support the allegation.
White House, Pentagon and State Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The British Foreign Office also had no comment.
It is the second time this week that Moscow has accused Ukraine of carrying out terrorist attacks on behalf of the West, a version that seems to be pushed more and more insistently, but which Kiev and Washington reject as unfounded.
On Wednesday, Russia accused Ukraine of trying to kill President Vladimir Putin with an overnight drone strike on the Kremlin. Ukraine also denied this, with the White House saying that allegations that Washington had anything to do with it were “lies.”
TASS quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as declining to comment on Saturday’s car bombing 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 often speaks out in support of the Ukrainian war on social media. He fought for Russian forces in the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region before last year’s invasion and led a military unit there, boasting in a 2019 YouTube interview that his unit “killed people in large numbers.”
(Additional reporting by Olena Harmash in kyiv writing by Mark Trevelyan. Editing in Spanish by Javier Leira)