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Pro-Kremlin writer wounded in car explosion in Russia

Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin in Paris in 2018. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)
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A car bomb injured the Russian nationalist writer Zakhar Prilepin and killed one person in a village east of Moscow on Saturday, Russian authorities said.

The 47-year-old Prilepin has been a fervent supporter of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. Since 2014, he has taken part in hostilities alongside pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and has run a volunteer battalion.

Alexander Shubin, a military veteran who fought in the Luhansk region of Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion, was killed, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs said the blast occurred in a village in the western Nizhny Novgorod region, according to Russian news agency Tass. It reported that an explosive device was placed under the car and that Prilepin’s injuries required him to be hospitalized.

The writer’s press secretary said he was doing fine. “What exactly happened is not clear at the moment,” she told the Russian-language outlet RTVI.

The Investigative Committee of Russia said it had detained a man who allegedly “planted an explosive device” on Prilepin’s path.

“He fled from the scene but was detained by law enforcement officials as he was leaving the woods in another locality,” the Investigative Committee said on Telegram.

The man was acting on orders from the Ukrainian special services, the statement said, but a Crimean partisan group claimed responsibility for the blast. Russia has occupied the Crimean Peninsula since illegally annexing it from Ukraine in 2014.

“The Atesh movement has been hunting Prilepin since the beginning of the year,” the group said on Telegram. “Our predictions always come true, because we not only speak, but also do,” it said. The Washington Post could not independently verify its claims.

Ukraine’s main internal security service, the SBU, told state media that it would neither confirm nor deny involvement in the attack. “We will be able to talk about who is behind this or that case after our victory,” the SBU said in a statement.

The Kremlin said it would not immediately comment on the incident. “It’s unknown. We must first get information from law enforcement agencies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Tass when asked whether Ukraine was to blame.

But Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed Kyiv’s Western backers. She described the apparent attack as the “direct responsibility of the United States and Britain.”

“Zakhar Prilepin was injured. First and foremost, we wish him a speedy recovery,” she said on the Russian network REN TV. “What we saw was carried out by the so-called collective West.”

In a statement issued on Telegram later Saturday, Zakharova offered condolences to Shubin’s family and wished Prilepin a speedy recovery.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told The Washington Post that Kyiv had “nothing to do with the incident” and that there was no “strategic sense” for Ukraine to carry out the attack.

Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov declined to comment. “That Zakhar Prilepin is a war criminal — this is an obvious fact,” he said. “All else we are refraining from commenting on.”

Natalia Abbakumova and Justine McDaniel contributed to this report.

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