An explosion on Saturday morning killed one person and wounded a pro-Kremlin writer and has sparked yet another furious tirade of blame and accusations from Moscow.
Around 11a.m. Moscow time yesterday morning, a blast partially destroyed a car in the Nizhny Novgorod region, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the Russian capital.
In the car were Zakhar Prilepin who was injured and his driver who died in the explosion.
Russia’s investigative committee published images of a partly destroyed, overturned car and said the writer had been taken to a medical facility.
Who is Zakhar Prilepin?
Prilepin is a pro-Kremlin writer and one of Russia's best-known novelists.
During the 2000s, he was an activist with the National Bolshevik party of writer Eduard Limonov (1943-2020) which mixed far-left social demands with nationalism and nostalgia for the Soviet empire.
He has long campaigned for Russia's poor against corrupt oligarchs and was once a critic of Putin, becoming a supporter of the Kremlin and appearing frequently on Russian television in between fighting missions to Ukraine.
The shaven-headed writer has been a frequent visitor to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since the start of the conflict in April 2014. After the start of the full-scale offensive in 2022, he was in a group of pro-Kremlin figures that launched what they dubbed a fight against the "anti-state position" of Russia's cultural elite. They demanded the resignation of some cultural figures over what they said were unpatriotic positions.
Who was behind the attack?
Russian authorities said on Saturday the United States was "primarily" to blame for the explosion and that interrogation of a suspect had revealed “he acted on the instructions from the Ukrainian special services.”
Investigators said the suspect admitted to planting an explosive device on the road ahead of Prilepin's car and denotated it remotely. He was detained on the edge of a forest, they said.
A video released by the interior ministry earlier showed the suspect in handcuffs, wearing a khaki cap and a black hoodie.
"The responsibility for this terrorist act, and for others, does not lie only with Ukraine, but also with its Western minders, primarily the United States," the country’s foreign ministry later said.
"The lack of condemnation by Washington after another terrorist act... is self-revealing," the statement added.
"The silence of the relevant international organisations is unacceptable."
The attack against Prilepin, a vocal supporter of the Ukraine offensive, was "another manifestation of (Kyiv's) systemic approach of eliminating ideological opponents,” said the ministry.
What has Ukraine said?
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak reacted by likening Putin's regime to a god that "devours his enemies... and finally devours his own", which implied the blast was due to Russian infighting.
Moloch is always predictable. He never stops in his munching. First he devours his enemies, then he devours random people, and finally he devours his own. To prolong the agony of the "Putin’s clan" and to maintain the illusory "total control", the Russian repressive machine…— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) May 6, 2023
This all sounds a bit familiar?
This is the latest in a series of apparent attacks and sabotage operations that Russia has blamed on Ukraine, ahead the popular May 9 celebrations of the Soviet victory over the Nazis.
No-one has claimed responsibility for most of the alleged attacks but the Kremlin has generally blamed Ukraine or the West, rarely providing evidence.
There were two previous killings of nationalists which Russia has blamed on Ukraine. In April, a blast from a statuette rigged with explosives killed 40-year-old pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky.
The Kremlin said the attack had been orchestrated by Ukraine with the help of supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. But observers said the bombing attack could be used to justify a further crackdown on critics.
And last August Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent ultranationalist intellectual, was killed in a car bombing outside Moscow, which Russia blamed on Ukraine. Kyiv denied the charges.
The blast that wounded Prilepin followsr a series of apparent attacks on Russian territory, sometimes far from the front. Experts say they could be in preparation for a Ukrainian offensive. In the most spectacular incidents, Russian authorities claim to have thwarted a drone attack on the Kremlin this week.
Russia claims the United States masterminded that alleged attack and that Ukraine carried it out with two drones, aiming to kill President Vladimir Putin. Both denied the charges.
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