Russia’s Investigative Committee has announced the initiation of a criminal case over the bombing of an Audi Q7 SUV in the Nizhny Novgorod region, which severely injured the writer and former State Duma deputy Zakhar Prilepin. The Investigative Committee published a photo from the scene of the incident in its official Telegram channel.
The attempt on Prilepin's life has been officially qualified as a terrorist act, according to a report from state-owned news agency TASS. An earlier TASS report confirmed that the writer survived the explosion, and was hospitalized “with wounds to both legs.” The Telegram channel Mash previously reported that Prilepin was in “serious condition,” with both his legs broken as a result of the bombing.
The Investigative Committee stated that “forensic investigators from the agency’s central office and other employees from [the agency’s] forensic center have been sent to the scene.”
A video showing the car's front end completely torn off has been published on social media.
A medical helicopter flew Prilepin from the village of Pionerskoye to Nizhny Novgorod, reported Telegram channel Ni Mash. According to the channel, the writer will be taken to Nizhny Novgorod’s Semashko Hospital, and will be later transported to one of Moscow's clinics for treatment. Telegram channel Baza claims that police officers are currently interviewing villagers, who said they had seen an unknown man walking in the woods for a long time the day before the explosion. The man was not a local resident, and was not seen in the area before.
On the morning of May 6, pro-Russian Telegram channels and mass media reported that Zakhar Prilepin’s car was blown up near Nizhny Novgorod. The writer was inside the car at the time of the explosion.
Russian pro-war channel WarGonzo also claimed that Prilepin had his daughter in the car. The girl managed to get out of the vehicle before the explosion, and was not injured. The channel also claimed that Prilepin's personal security guard – “a friend of the WarGonzo project” with call sign “Zloy” (“Angry”) – died as a result of the blast.
The explosion is presumed to have occurred as a result of an IED being detonated remotely. Prilepin was followed by the IED’s operator, who waited until his daughter left the car before triggering the explosive. The car overturned after the bomb went off.
The Atesh organization [A military partisan movement in the occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as Russia; Ateş, or Atesh, means “Fire” in Crimean Tatar – The Insider] has claimed responsibility for the attempt on Prilepin's life, but its participants have provided no evidence of their involvement in the bombing. Prilepin's wife, however, told police that he did receive threats, reports Baza. In January, members of the Atesh movement announced that they intended to “eliminate Prilepin.”
In 2014, following the annexation of Crimea, Prilepin announced that he had “rethought” his attitude toward the modern Russian authorities, declaring a “personal truce” and the absence of “the slightest incentive for confrontation” [Prilepin had been a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin’s regime prior to the annexation – The Insider]. From 2016 to 2018, Prilepin took part in military action in eastern Ukraine. In February 2022, the European Union imposed personal sanctions against Prilepin, who had earlier signed a letter supporting the Russian invasion. In January 2023, Prilepin signed a contract with Russia’s National Guard Forces Command (“Voyska Natsionalnoy Gvardii”) and went to war in Ukraine.
In 2019, Zakhar Prilepin said the following in an interview with YouTube channel Redaktsiya: “No matter what they say, but I ran a combat unit that killed people. In large numbers. I know this well, and then how do I deal with it? These people are just dead, they're just lying in the ground, they're just murdered. And there are a lot of them. No unit from the Donetsk battalion could compare to my battalion in terms of numbers. All that we did…was barefaced lawlessness. It makes me laugh – especially given the attacks and accusations against me.”