Russia has blamed Ukraine for the car bomb attack on the well-known writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is close to the Kremlin, and has spoken of a “terrorist attack”. Kiev did not claim responsibility for the assassination in which Prilepin was seriously injured on Saturday – but did not deny involvement either.

The head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, meanwhile specified his announcement about a withdrawal from the front in eastern Ukraine. The positions in the city of Bakhmut are said to be taken over by fighters of Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov from next Wednesday.

Both warring parties also exchanged almost 50 prisoners again. And the International Atomic Energy Agency was alarmed at fears of hostilities near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

According to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, the investigation into the assassination attempt on the 47-year-old Prilepin has not yet been completed. “But it is already clear from the materials (…) that there is talk of another terrorist attack that was organized and carried out by the Kiev regime and that Western curators are behind.”

When asked by the Internet newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda, a representative of the Ukrainian secret service SBU said that they would “neither confirm nor deny” involvement in such attacks. A Ukrainian partisan movement called Atesh had previously indicated that it was behind the attack. At first, however, it was unclear how credible this message was.

Prilepin was seriously injured when an explosive device attached to his car detonated. Its driver died. The nationalist writer (“Sankya”) is a staunch supporter of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. He’s fought there too.

Police arrested a man born in 1993 as a suspect shortly after the explosion, which took place in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region east of Moscow. The governor of Nizhny Novgorod, Gleb Nikitin, announced that Prilepin had meanwhile been operated on. He suffered multiple broken bones.

It is not the first time that a war supporter has been the target of an assassination attempt in Russia: just a few weeks ago, prominent military blogger Vladlen Tatarski died in an explosion in a St. Petersburg café. Last August, Darja Dugina – daughter of right-wing nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin – died near Moscow as a result of a car bomb detonation.

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says he is making concrete preparations for the imminent withdrawal of his fighters from the front in eastern Ukraine. Prigozhin’s press service told Telegram that he wanted to accept a transfer offer from the head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov had previously stated that men from his “Achmat” unit could take over the positions of the Wagner mercenaries in the heavily contested Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

More than a year after the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine, an open power struggle is raging within the Russian military leadership. Prigozhin recently repeatedly complained publicly about an alleged lack of ammunition. On Friday, the 61-year-old then announced that he would withdraw his fighters from Bachmut for this reason.

Prigozhin said that even after leaving Bakhmut, his troops would continue to fight for Moscow. “The Wagner fighters will be retained for the next operations in Russia’s interests,” he said on Sunday, according to the Russian state agency TASS.

Russia and Ukraine again exchanged prisoners. The Defense Ministry in Moscow announced that three Russian Air Force pilots had been released “as a result of a difficult negotiation process”. In Kiev there was talk of 45 soldiers who were released from Russian captivity in return. It is about 42 men and 3 women who defended the port city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea until it fell last spring, wrote the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, on Telegram.

A little later, in his video speech that evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy formulated the goal of liberating all compatriots captured by Russia. It is not known how many Ukrainians and how many Russians are being held on the other side more than 14 months after the start of the war.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is alarmed by the tense situation surrounding the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which is close to the front. The situation is becoming increasingly unpredictable and the risk of danger in the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant is increasing, said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi. “I am extremely concerned about the very real security risks,” he warned in a status report. “We must act now to prevent an impending serious nuclear accident.”

The pro-Moscow administration in the Zaporizhia region announced evacuations on Friday, including the city of Enerhodar, where most of the nuclear power plant personnel live. According to Grossi, the employees are staying on site, but the situation is still becoming “increasingly tense, nerve-wracking and challenging” for them and their families. According to the IAEA, permanent stress can lead to errors and accidents in nuclear power plants. Grossi again called for an agreement between Ukraine and Russia to protect the nuclear power plant from attacks.

A Ukrainian counter-offensive is expected in the near future. One possibility is a military advance in the Zaporizhia region towards the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov.