A prominent pro-Russia blogger, described as a war correspondent by the Kremlin, was killed on Sunday by an explosion in a St Petersburg cafe, with Moscow blaming a nexus of anti-war activists, anti-Putin politicians, and Ukraine.
Blogger Maxim Fomin, also identified as Vladlen Tatarsky, was killed in a blast in a St Petersburg cafe on Sunday after, it is claimed, he was handed a statue stuffed with explosives. The Russian government said the device contained “a yield of more than 200 grams of TNT”, and the 6 pm blast was large enough to blow out all of the windows of the city-centre venue.
Russian emergency services report 32 people were injured in addition to the one fatality.
Fomin, who is described variously as a pro-war blogger and sometimes a war correspondent, had posted footage with Russian and mercenary troops from the frontline in his anti-Ukrainian reportage to his considerable following on Russian social media app Telegram.
The Kremlin moved to blame several potential parties after the blast. 26-year-old local resident Darya Trepova has been arrested, standing accused of having handed Fomin the exploding statue during a talk at the cafe. Russian media reports that she was previously arrested for attending an anti-war demonstration.
But blame has been lain elsewhere too. Russian government-controlled newswire agency TASS reports “The terrorist attack against Vladlen Tatarsky was plotted by Ukrainian special services”, and that they were working together with “incarcerated blogger” Alexey Navalny’s supporters.
While the Russians list Navalny and his supporters as domestic extremists, the West sees them as the main opposition to the Putin regime, albeit one that exists in prison. Navalny himself was jailed in 2022 for “fraud and contempt of court” and disappeared into the Russian prison system, despite his protests the prosecution was politically motivated.
A spokesman for Navalny’s group denied that they had anything to do with the blast.
The Russian interior ministry released a video featuring Trepova on Monday in which she confessed to having taken the statue to the event, although as British state broadcaster the BBC notes, the video may have been made under duress.
The governor of St Petersburg compared the blast to criminality and terrorism, stating: “War correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky… died as a result of an inhumane, monstrous crime. Many of those who came to meet with him were injured… [this] will achieve nothing! Russia is a country of strong people”.
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