A prominent Russian nationalist author, who himself fought in eastern Ukraine, has been wounded in a car bombing that killed his driver.
Photographs released by the state investigative committee, which investigates serious crimes, show the combat veteran’s vehicle overturned on a dirt track by a woodland, with a crater beside it.
A man, 30, was detained on suspicion of involvement in the explosion around two hours after the blast, the Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported.
Citing a law enforcement source, Tass reported that the suspect was a ‘native of Ukraine’ with a past conviction for robbery with violence.
Ministry of Internal Affairs spokeswoman Irina Volk said the authorities are treating the incident as a terrorist attack under Article 205 of the Criminal Code and have launched a criminal probe.
Prilepin, the co-chair of a nationalistic right-wing party, was taken to hospital and, following an operation, has been put into a drug-induced sleep, REN-TV, a Russian government-subsidised channel, reported.
The blogger, popular on Russian social media, had been travelling back to Moscow from Donetsk and Luhansk when he made a food pitstop at Pionersky.
REN-TV said the blast had been caused by a tank mine buried in the road. The investigative committee said a team of forensic experts are combing the scene.
A witness who pulled the writer out of the car told the channel: ‘The car just turned over, it flew up. There were two of them (inside the car).
‘It all happened before our eyes. The driver was dead, and they pulled him out, and half the car was gone.’
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram, without providing any evidence: ‘Washington and Nato have nursed yet another international terrorist cell – the Kyiv regime.
‘Direct responsibility of the US and Britain. We’re praying for Zakhar.’
The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) neither ‘confirmed nor denied’ its involvement in the car bombing, the Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform reported.
‘Officially, we can neither confirm nor deny the involvement of the SSU in this or that (explosion) that happens to the occupiers and their henchmen,’ a spokesperson for the security agency said.
‘We will be able to talk about who is behind this or that case already after our victory, which is certainly coming soon,’ the spokesperson added.
Atesh, a shady militant group operating from Russian-occupied patches of Ukraine, alleged that the movement was behind the attack but presented no evidence.
‘The Atesh movement has been hunting for Prilepin since the beginning of the year,’ the group said in a Telegram post.
‘Zakhar Prilepin was a s****y writer and as a person he was rubbish.’
Prilepin has been pro-President Vladimir Putin since 2014 when Moscow illegally annexed Crimea. The writer was later among a lengthy list of Russians high up in Putin’s orbit sanctioned by the EU.
Five years later, he founded the political party For Truth, which campaigned for the swallowing up of eastern Ukraine territory into Russia.
Prilepin’s party later entered the fold of A Just Russia, a pro-Kremlin social-democratic party, which Prilepin is now co-chair.
In a sign that Russian nationalism was gobbling up the country’s political system, he was elected to the Duma, Russia’s parliament, but gave up his seat. At the time, Russian media couldn’t help but wonder if Prilepin did so as he is harbouring presidential ambitions.
A Just Russia chairman Sergei Mironov described the bombing as a ‘terrorist act’.
Prilepin fought for Russian proxy forces in the Donbas region before last year’s invasion erupted.
‘I led a combat unit that killed a large number of people,’ he bragged in a 2019 interview with the Donbas news outlet Eastern Variant.
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