A prominent pro-Kremlin novelist was wounded in a car bombing that killed his driver on Saturday, Russian officials said, as investigators said a detained suspect admitted acting on behalf of Ukraine.
The nationalist writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is an ardent supporter of what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, was wounded in the region of Nizhny Novgorod, about 400km (250 miles) east of Moscow.
Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region Gleb Nikitin said Prilepin suffered minor bone fractures and was receiving medical help.
Russian news outlet RBC reported that Prilepin was travelling back to Moscow on Saturday from Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions and stopped in the Nizhny Novgorod region for a meal.
The state Investigative Committee said it was treating the incident as an “act of terrorism”.
The committee released a photograph showing a white vehicle lying overturned on a track next to a wood, with a deep crater beside it and fragments of metal strewn nearby.
The committee later issued a statement saying investigators were questioning a suspect identified as Alexander Permyakov.
“The suspect was detained and, in the course of questioning, he provided testimony that he acted on the instructions of the Ukrainian special services,” said the statement, read by a woman in uniform.
The statement said he acknowledged detonating the bomb remotely and fled but was detained.
Prilepin, who has boasted of taking part in military combat in Ukraine, was the third prominent pro-war figure to be targeted by a bomb since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February 2022.
In August 2022, a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of an influential Russian political theorist often referred to as “Putin’s brain”. The authorities alleged that Ukraine was behind the blast.
Last month, an explosion in a café in St Petersburg killed a popular military blogger, Vladlen Tatarsky. Officials once again blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating it.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram, “The fact has come true: Washington and NATO fed another international terrorist cell – the Kyiv regime.”
She said it was the “direct responsibility of the US and Britain”, but provided no evidence to support the accusation.
Ukraine’s SBU security service told the state Ukrinform news agency on Saturday it could not confirm or deny involvement in the car bombing or other attacks.
“Officially, we cannot confirm or deny the SBU’s involvement in this or other explosions, which occur with the occupiers or their henchmen,” Ukrinform quoted the agency as saying.
It was the second time this week that Moscow has accused Ukraine of carrying out attacks on behalf of the West, a narrative it appears to be pushing with increasing urgency but which Kyiv and Washington reject as baseless.
On Wednesday, Russia accused Ukraine of trying to kill President Vladimir Putin with a night-time drone attack on the Kremlin. Ukraine denied that too, and the White House said accusations that Washington had a hand in it were “lies”.
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