Zakhar Prilepin, who himself fought in eastern Ukraine, has long advocated an imperialist foreign policy by Moscow.

A car bombing wounded a prominent Russian nationalist writer and killed his driver on Saturday, state media reported, the second high-profile incident in Russia in less than a week that the authorities referred to as a terrorist act.

The state-run Tass news agency said that the writer, Zakhar Prilepin, was injured but conscious. Preliminary information showed that an explosive device had been planted under Mr. Prilepin’s car in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, Tass reported, but did not say who was believed to be behind the attack.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, called it a “terrorist bombing,” saying in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that Mr. Prilepin’s driver had been killed. “Our prayers go to Zakhar,” she wrote.

The governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, Gleb Nikitin, wrote on Telegram that Mr. Prilepin suffered minor fractures and that there was “no threat to his health.”

Mr. Prilepin has described himself as not just a writer but a direct participant in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In January, his party announced that Mr. Prilepin had signed up with Russia’s National Guard and been deployed to Ukraine. Last Thursday, Mr. Prilepin posted a selfie in military fatigues with a National Guard battalion that he said had spent four months on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The bombing came just days after two explosions occurred over the Kremlin in what Russia claimed was a U.S.-directed Ukrainian assassination attempt by drone on Mr. Putin. Both Washington and Kyiv have vehemently denied having any part in the episode.

It also was the third bombing targeting a leading Russian nationalist figure in the last year. Last month, a bombing at a St. Petersburg cafe killed a popular pro-war blogger known as Vladlen Tatarsky. And a car bombing last August killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of another famous Russian nationalist, and herself a hawk.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case into the attack and sent investigators and forensic experts to the scene. A photograph shared by the committee on Telegram showed a white car flipped upside down, with what appeared to be its front half blown off, next to a crater.

Mr. Prilepin made his name with a gritty novel describing the life of young soldiers in the Chechen wars and went on to organize fighters in the separatist regions of Ukraine.

“I led a combat unit that killed a large number of people,” he boasted in a 2019 interview.

He has long advocated an imperialist foreign policy. In 2021, he was elected to Russia’s Parliament — a sign of the nationalists’ rising stature in President Vladimir V. Putin’s system — but gave up his seat. Russian media speculated at the time that Mr. Prilepin might have presidential ambitions and that he sought a role that was more high profile than as one of the hundreds of members of Russia’s rubber-stamp State Duma.

He found that role after Mr. Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, when the aggressively imperialist views that had earlier put Mr. Prilepin on the edge of Russia’s political mainstream became the Kremlin’s guiding ideology. On Telegram, where Mr. Prilepin has more than 300,000 followers, he was a vocal cheerleader of what the Kremlin has termed the “special military operation.”

On Monday, he posted an archival photo of Soviet-era celebrations in Kyiv of May 1, the Communist Labor Day holiday, and wondered why people in the Ukrainian capital were no longer celebrating.

“Are they waiting?” he asked. “Are they dead? Did a demon inhabit them?”

After the car bombing in August that killed Ms. Dugina on her way home from a literary festival he hosted, Mr. Prilepin was quoted as saying that the West had “habituated” Ukraine to such actions.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the car bomb attack that killed Ms. Dugina. American officials have said they were not aware of the operation ahead of time and would have opposed the killing had they been consulted.

Cassandra Vinograd and Anastasia Kuznietsova contributed reporting.



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