Who is Zakhar Prilepin, target of a car bomb in Russia? | News about the war between Russia and Ukraine

The writer and politician has been sanctioned by European nations for his passionate support of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Zakhar Prilepin, who was wounded in a car explosion in Russia that killed his driver, is the third prominent Prowar figure to be targeted by a bomb since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The 47-year-old writer was taken to hospital on Saturday with wounds to both legs, but was conscious and “fine,” state news agency TASS reported, citing officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine and Western states that backed it, particularly the United States, of attacking the writer. However, a senior official in Kiev has accused Moscow of orchestrating the incident.

The author of several novels inspired by his war experiences and life in the Russian provinces, Prilepin was once praised by literary critics in the West before putting his pen and weapon to the service of the Kremlin in Ukraine.

Born in Ryazan region in 1975, Prilepin was deployed to Russia’s wars against Chechen separatists in the 1990s.

Returning to civilian life, he chronicled the horrors of war in his debut novel, Pathologies, which describes the actions of a special forces unit, including binge drinking and murders.

He wrote five other novels and also wrote numerous poems, essays and articles. His works have been translated in Western Europe and he is the recipient of various national awards.

A damaged white Audi Q lies overturned on a track next to the forest after Russian nationalist writer Zakhar Prilepin was wounded in a bomb attack in a village in Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia, May 6, 2023 [Anastasia Makarycheva/ Reuters]

As Prilepin tried to make his mark in the European literary world in the 2000s, he became an opposition activist, criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin and campaigning for Russia’s poor against corrupt oligarchs.

Everything changed with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Prilepin has since embraced Putin’s policies and fought alongside pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, revealing in 2017 that he had raised his own battalion.

“I think an author has a right to any position,” Prilepin said at a press conference in Moscow after the unveiling.

“He can stand with a flag that says peace to the world, or he can take up arms.”

In a 2019 YouTube interview, he boasted that his unit had “killed people in large numbers.”

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Prilepin, who has around 300,000 subscribers each to his Telegram and YouTube channels, became an ardent supporter of the military campaign.

“I’m not to blame for what happened. It happened, now we have to see it through,” he said in November.

Prilepin was also politically active as co-chair of the party “Just Russia – For the Truth”.

Last year he played a prominent role in founding GRAD, a parliamentary group that seeks to identify cultural workers with “anti-Russian” views and persuade the state and corporations to stop funding them.

The initials of GRAD stand for “Group to Investigate Anti-Russian Cultural Activities”. Grad is also the Russian word for “hail” and the name of a missile system.

Prilepin has been sanctioned by Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the European Union for its support of the war in Ukraine.

The writer and politician has compared himself to two giants of Russian literature – Leo Tolstoy and Mikhail Lermontov – who both fought as soldiers before turning to writing.

According to Prilepin, Tolstoy and Lermontov would have joined the Russian army in Ukraine if they had been alive today.

In a 2018 interview with AFP news agency in Paris, he said he was fighting out of “empathy” and made no secret of his desire for Russia to take over more of Ukraine.

“Our goal is to conquer and control territory,” he said.

“Killing is not an end in itself and we will be held accountable in Hell.”


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