Ukrainian media asks ‘who should be next’ after car bombing of Russian writer

by | May 10, 2023


Hours after Russian writer and activist Zakhar Prilepin was nearly killed in a targeted car bomb, a popular Ukrainian news agency submitted a poll that asked its readers, “Who do you think should be next in the Russian pantheon of scum propagandists?”

It’s open season on Russian intellectuals supportive of the government’s war effort, according to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN. Following a car bomb intended to kill Russian novelist Zakhar Prilepin in the Nizhny Novgorod region of Russia, the outlet polled its audience on Telegram, providing a list of names of prominent Russians that could be assassinated. 

Excluding the two reported assassination attempts on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prilepin is the third high-profile Russian to be targeted for assassination by Ukrainian agents. His maiming follows the car bombing that killed Dariya Dugina, which was intended for her father, the Russian nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, and the bombing of a public event featuring Vladlen Tatarsky, who ran a popular Telegram channel. The Telegram post by UNIAN explicitly references Dugin, Tatarsky, and Prilepin.

Among the list of potential targets were the operators of other Telegram channels, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan (crudely referred to in the post as “beaver eater”), Russian TV news hosts Dmitry Kiselyov and Sergey Mardan, and others. Some 50,000 Telegram users have voted in the poll at the time of this article’s publication.

According to UNIAN’s About page, the outlet “partners in information dissemination and exchange” with American outlets Reuters and Bloomberg while its clients include prominent foreign outlets like the BBC and Der Spiegel.


UNIAN is owned by the 1+1 Media Group belonging to Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, a long time backer of Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky and the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. The conglomerate is also the parent company of TSN, the TV News program that recently put out a bounty for drone terror attacks on Red Square during Moscow’s annual May 9 celebration of the defeat of Nazism.

The assassination attempt against Russian novelist Zakhar Prilepin coincided with raids inside Ukraine that swept up 11 war commentators including Gonzalo Lira, an American citizen. Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency announced on May 4 that they had arrested “another network of enemy internet agitators.” 

American journalists with ties to US intelligence have sought to justify the targeting of online influencers. Christo Grozev, the lead Russia investigator at the US government-funded outlet Bellingcat, justified the bombing of a public event at a cafe in St. Petersburg on the grounds that the target was a “propagandist.” 

Similarly, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, an American journalist and former Democratic Party operative who enlisted in Ukraine’s armed forces, filmed a phantasmagorical defense of the arrest of American Gonzalo Lira by Ukrainian intelligence agents on the same grounds. While the SBU had only publicly released images of Lira with his face blurred, Ashton-Cirllo was somehow able to produce uncensored versions.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has provided a green light for Ukraine’s campaign of terror inside Russia. Following the second assassination attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked about the US view on attacks inside Russian territory. “These are decisions for Ukraine to make about how it’s going to defend itself,” Blinken responded.

Among the trove of top secret documents leaked by National Guardsman Jack Teixeira and now likely slowly decomposing in file cabinets at top American newsrooms, is a document detailing the US’s dismal projections for a Ukrainian counteroffensive. As its hopes for recapturing the whole of its pre-2014 territory dim, Ukraine is resorting to a campaign of targeted assassinations against its most vocal critics in Russia, and disappearing those who remain within its realm.

Reprinted with permission from The Grayzone.
Support The Grayzone here.


  • Alexander Rubinstein

    Alex Rubinstein is an independent journalist who has shared live coverage of social movements in the United States including Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Charlottesville, the inauguration protests against Pres. Trump, and from inside the besieged Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC. He currently lives in Mexico City.

    View all posts