Russian pro-war writer Prilepin hit by car bomb out of coma

May 07, 2023
Zakhar Prilepin is one of Russia’s most celebrated authors and a veteran supporter of ultranationalist politics. — courtesy Getty Images
Zakhar Prilepin is one of Russia’s most celebrated authors and a veteran supporter of ultranationalist politics. — courtesy Getty Images

MOSCOW — A Russian pro-war writer who was seriously injured in a car bomb on Saturday is out of a medically induced coma, his spokeswoman says.

Zakhar Prilepin, a vehement supporter of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, was hurt while driving in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region. His driver died.

Investigators claim that a suspect, Alexander Permyakov, has admitted working for Ukraine. On Sunday, Prilepin’s spokesperson said the writer was “feeling well”.

“He is in as good spirits as can be given the situation. He’s well. He passed along his thanks to his family,” state media quoted his spokesperson Yelizaveta Kondakova as saying.

Nizhny Novgorod Governor Gleb Nikitin wrote on Telegram that the writer’s condition was “stable” and that “his mood is cheerful”.

The extent of the injuries Prilepin suffered in the explosion — which also killed his driver — are unclear.

On Saturday, the Russian Interior Ministry said he suffered a concussion and fractures, but offered no further detail.

The prize-winning author and veteran of Moscow’s bloody wars in Chechnya is one of Russia’s most celebrated writers, and before 2014 was a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.

But in recent years Prilepin — long known for his involvement in Russian ultranationalist politics — has seemingly reconciled with Putin and become a strident supporter of the Ukraine invasion.

The 47-year-old has admitted fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and has called for the “return of Kyiv to Russia”.

Last year a group founded by Prilepin called on officials to “purge the cultural space” of all who oppose the conflict.

Russia’s Investigative Committee (SK), which handles serious crimes including terrorism, accuses Alexander Permyakov of having detonated a remote-controlled bomb, wrecking Prilepin’s Audi.

The SK says he was caught in a neighboring village. The region is more than 425km (265 miles) east of Moscow.

He “admitted doing an assignment for the Ukrainian secret services”, the SK alleges.

The partisan group Atesh, which is made up of Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars, claimed it was behind the attack on Prilepin.

“We had a feeling that sooner or later he would be blown up,” they wrote on Telegram. “He was not driving alone, but with a surprise on the underside of the car.”

The BBC cannot verify Atesh’s claims.

Ukraine’s security service (SBU) issued its standard response, declining to comment on the attack or to a Russian Foreign Ministry allegation that Ukraine — backed by the US government — targeted Prilepin.

The attack is the latest to target high-profile supporters of President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Vladlen Tatarsky was killed last month. The blogger had reported from the Ukraine front line and gained notoriety last year after posting a video filmed inside the Kremlin in which he said: “We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will rob everyone as necessary. Just as we like it.”

Activist Darya Trepova, 26, was later arrested and was charged with terrorism following the publication of a video - believed to have been recorded under duress — in which she admitted bringing a statuette to the café that later blew up.

And in August 2022, Darya Dugina — the daughter of a close ally of Putin — was killed in a suspected car bombing near Moscow.

It is thought her father, the Russian ultra-nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, who is known as “Putin’s brain”, may have been the intended target of that attack. — BBC

May 07, 2023
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