• Sun. May 14th, 2023

Pro-Kremlin war writer Zakhar Prilepin targeted in car bombing in Russia

A prominent pro-Kremlin war journalist has been wounded and his assistant killed in a car bombing in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on Saturday.

“Today at about 11:00am (0800 GMT) … an explosive device detonated in an Audi Q7 car carrying Zakhar Prilepin,” said the Russian Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes.

The blast comes amid a tense security situation in Russia after a series of drone strikes.

“The famous writer was injured and the person driving died,” the investigative committee added, launching an investigation for an alleged “terrorist act”.

It published images of a partly destroyed, overturned car and said the writer had been taken to a medical facility. The explosion took place in the Nizhny Novgorod region east of Moscow, where the writer is from.

Agency Interfax cited a medical source as saying the writer’s condition was considered to be “serious”.

“It was decided not to transport him to Moscow and rather to do surgery in Nizhny Novgorod,” the source said.

Prilepin previously posted on Telegram describing Russia’s retreat from Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine as a “catastrophe”.

“Now we can observe the result of the criminal irresponsibility of those who were responsible for this direction,” the post read. “The special military operation is long over. There is a war going on.”

In April, a blast from a statuette rigged with explosives killed 40-year-old pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky.

The Kremlin said the attack had been orchestrated by Ukraine with the help of supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, but observers said the bombing attack could be used to justify a further crackdown on critics.

And last August Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent ultranationalist intellectual, was killed in a car bombing outside Moscow, which Russia blamed on Ukraine.

Moscow has blamed Kyiv and its Western supporters for the attacks, which have escalated tensions and prompted evacuations from the front line around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has expressed concerns about potential nuclear safety and security risks facing the plant.

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner has asked Moscow to let Chechen fighters relieve his forces at the flashpoint city of Bakmut in eastern Ukraine, citing increased shellings by Kyiv.

Moscow has ordered families with children and elderly to temporarily evacuate Russian-held areas in southern Ukraine, including the town near Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

As Russia gears up to celebrate the May 9 anniversary of the Soviet victory over the Nazis, both sides have reported increased drone incursions and train sabotage, which experts suggest are a prelude to an expected counteroffensive.

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