Russian writer escapes assassination suspect arrested confesses he had instructions from Ukrainian intelligence services Moscow blames West
The suspect in the bombing of the car carrying Zakhar Prilepin has admitted links to Ukrainian intelligence services, Russia’s Investigative Committee revealed on Saturday.
Prilepin, a prominent Russian writer and political activist, was targeted by a roadside bomb earlier in the day in the village of Pionersky, some 70km from the eponymous city, located some 400km to the east of Moscow. The blast killed Prilepin’s associate, who was driving the car, and left the writer critically injured.
Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin. © Joel Saget / AFP
The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Ukrainian-born Alexander Permyakov, was apprehended shortly after the attack while trying to escape the scene on foot. Locals alerted the police to the fleeing man, who was ultimately captured in a nearby village.
During questioning, Permyakov admitted having attempted to assassinate Prilepin, revealing he had been recruited by an unspecified Ukrainian intelligence service back in 2018. The Investigative Committee released a video of the questioning, with the suspect telling investigators he had planted two anti-tank mines on the side of the road and waited for Prilepin’s car to pass before detonating the explosives remotely.
A Russian Investigative Committee employee works at the site of the exploded car of writer Zakhar Prilepin in the region of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, May 6, 2023 © AP / Russian Investigative Committee
The blast obliterated the engine compartment of Prilepin’s car, flipping the vehicle onto its roof. While the writer was critically wounded by the blast, his close associate, who was behind the wheel, was killed on the spot. The explosion left a large crater by the side of the road, and sent sizeable pieces of the car, including its gearbox, flying some 100 meters away, footage from the scene shows.
Prilepin was rushed to a hospital and underwent a successful operation after which he was sedated, the governor of Nizhny Novgorod Region, Gleb Nikitin, revealed without elaborating on the injuries. According to Russian media reports, citing eyewitnesses, the writer suffered fractures to both of his legs, and also reportedly received a spinal column injury.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal probe into the incident, treating the blast as a terrorist attack.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine and the Western states backing it, particularly the United States, for the latest attack on the writer, an ardent proponent of Moscow’s special military operation.
“The terrorist attack against Evgeny Prilepin is yet another demonstration of [Kiev’s] systematic approach to eliminating ideological opponents,” the ministry said in a statement, referring to Prilepin by his birth name.
“The responsibility for this and other terrorist acts lies on the Ukrainian authorities together with their Western patrons, mainly the United States, through whose efforts the anti-Russia project blended with neo-Nazism has been painstakingly nurtured in Ukraine since the coup in February 2014,” the statement added.