TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — The car of a prominent pro-Kremlin novelist exploded in Russia on Saturday, wounding him and killing his driver, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported, citing emergency and law enforcement officials.
The incident involving the car of Zakhar Prilepin, a well-known nationalist writer and an ardent supporter of what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, took place in the region of Nizhny Novgorod, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow.
It is the third explosion involving prominent pro-Kremlin figures since the start of the war in Ukraine.
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Tass cited Prilepin’s spokespeople as saying that he was “ok.” No details were given about the extent of the injuries.
Russian news outlet RBC reported, citing unnamed sources, that on Saturday, Prilepin was traveling back to Moscow from Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions and stopped in the Nizhny Novogorod region for a meal.
Police are investigating the incident, the report said.
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 on the side of Russia-backed separatists. Last year, he was sanctioned by the European Union for his support of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In 2020, he founded a political party, For the Truth, which Russian media reported was backed by the Kremlin. A year later, Prilepin’s party merged with the nationalist A Just Russia party that has seats in the parliament.
A co-chair of the newly formed party, Prilepin won a seat in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, in the 2021 election, but gave it up.
Leader of the party Sergei Mironov called the incident on Saturday “a terrorist act” and blamed Ukraine for it. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova echoed Mironov’s sentiment in a post on the messaging app Telegram, adding that the responsibility lies with the U.S. and NATO.
“Washington and NATO have nursed yet another international terrorist cell — the Kyiv regime,” Zakharova wrote. “Direct responsibility of the U.S. and Britain. We’re praying for Zakhar.”
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