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Nationalist writer and politician Zakhar Prilepin in critical condition following a car bombing

Source: Meduza

A car bombing outside of Nizhny Novgorod injured Russian nationalist politician and writer Zakhar Prilepin. Telegram channel Baza reports that Prilepin’s daughter was riding in the car with him, but that she got out of the car before the explosion.

The car’s driver, who was also Prilepin’s bodyguard, was killed. Publication Verstka reports that the driver was a Luhansk separatist fighter. Russian Telegram channels previously reported that the driver went by the call sign Zloy (Evil). According to Verstka, that call sign belonged to 27-year-old Luhansk native Alexander Shubin, who fought with the Surkov–Prilepin battalion before moving to the Nizhny Novgorod region, where Zakhar Prilepin lives with his family.

Prilepin was reportedly traveling to Moscow from the occupied Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics.” Russian state broadcaster RBC reports that Prilepin stopped at a cafe in the Nizhny Novgorod region on his way to Moscow. The bomb was possibly planted in his car while he ate. A source for the Telegram channel Shot says an explosive device was placed under the hood of Prilepin’s Audi and exploded as soon as the car left the cafe. Shot reports that the explosion formed a crater and scattered wreckage from the car 50 meters (over 150 feet).

Prilepin is in critical condition and will undergo surgery in a hospital in Nizhny Novgorod. Reports about the writer’s condition varied immediately following the incident. Nizhny Novgorod governor Gleb Nikitin say that Prilepin “was okay.” Regional emergency services later confirmed that Prilepin had been injured. TASS reported that Prilepin sustained injuries to both of his legs. Within 45 minutes of the explosion, a Shot source said that the writer was being evacuated by medical helicopter, and pro-Kremlin Ukrainian blogger Anatoly Shariy posted about an emergency amputation of Prilepin’s legs. RIA Novosti, citing a source in law enforcement, reported that Prilepin had suffered fractures and a concussion. Telegram channel Mash says that first responders splinted and bandaged Prilepin’s broken leg before loading him into an evacuation helicopter.

The first photographs of the incident emerged an hour after the explosion, showing a mangled car and the helicopter that reportedly took Prilepin to a hospital. 

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into the explosion, classifying the incident as a terrorist attack.

Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the incident. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, called the attack on Prilepin “a cynical performance” and “a vile attack carried out by Nazi extremists.” 

Police in Nizhny Novgorod arrested a possible suspect after a search by local authorities. Telegram channel Baza reported that police were tasked with stopping “all suspicious vehicles.” A source for Interfax reported that the suspect had been following Prilepin. The source said the suspect was around 30 and fit the description of a person who had been seen during the previous two days outside of Prilepin’s home in the Nizhny Novgorod region. The source added that another person, who “was seen near the village in a vehicle without license plates” is still wanted.

Later on May 6, Alexander Permyakov, who was arrested in connection with the car bombing, confessed. Permyakov said he was acting on instructions from Ukrainian special services, and that he placed an explosive on the road Prilepin was traveling on, detonating it at a distance.

Politician Ilya Ponomarev said the explosion was organized by the National Republican Army, which has also claimed responsibility for killing high-profile right-wing figures like Vladlen Tatarsky and Daria Dugina.  

Atesh, a military paristan movement among Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in the occupied territories of Ukraine, also claims to have taken part in the event. On January 28, the Atesh movement posted on Telegram, “The orders for Prilepin have been given! We’ve sent out more than 5,000 text messages to our agents and Russian soldiers to find and liquidate a known Ruscist.” On May 6, the day of the car bombing, Atesh announced that they had “been hunting Prilepin since the beginning of the year,” adding that “Our predictions always come true, because we don’t just speak, we act.” 

Ponomarev’s claims

‘Our task is to finish off Putin’ Ex-lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev on Daria Dugina’s death, the National Republican Army, and bringing down the Russian regime

Ponomarev’s claims

‘Our task is to finish off Putin’ Ex-lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev on Daria Dugina’s death, the National Republican Army, and bringing down the Russian regime

On May 4, Prilepin posted on his personal Telegram channel that the Oplot battalion, of which he was a deputy commander, would take a leave from the combat zone. The writer and politician went to war in January 2023. He supported the Russian troops from the first days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A Prilepin spokesperson said he ran “humanitarian missions” in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory. 

Prilepin planned to run for President of the Russian Federation in 2024. By August 2022, he had already opened several campaign headquarters in Russia as well as in the self-proclaimed LNR and Russian-occupied territories of Kherson and Kharkiv. One source told news outlet Vedomosti that Putin’s administration looked on Prilepin’s presidential ambitions “not in the best way.”

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