Russia identifies Ukrainian suspect in war blogger’s killing

Russia’s Federal Security Service said a Ukrainian citizen had gathered information about the blogger and supplied the explosives used in the attack

Cemetery workers carry a portrait of slain Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, during a funeral ceremony on April 8, 2023.
Cemetery workers carry a portrait of slain Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, during a funeral ceremony on April 8, 2023.Associated Press/LaPresse (Associated Press/LaPresse)

Russia’s top security agency accused a Ukrainian man Thursday of involvement in a bombing that killed a well-known Russian military blogger at a St. Petersburg cafe. Vladlen Tatarsky, 40, an ardent supporter of the war in Ukraine who filed regular reports on the fighting from the front lines, was killed on April 2 as he led a discussion at a riverside cafe in the historic heart of Russia’s second-largest city. The bombing injured 50 other people.

A 26-year-old St. Petersburg resident, Darya Trepova, who was seen on video presenting Tatarsky with a statuette moments before the blast, was quickly arrested. According to Russian media reports, Trepova told investigators she was asked to deliver the statuette but didn’t know what was inside it.

Russian authorities described the bombing as an act of terrorism and blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating it. Ukrainian authorities have not directly responded to the accusation, but an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the bombing was part of Russia’s internal turmoil.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, known under its Russian acronym FSB, declared Thursday that a Ukrainian citizen whom it identified as Yuriy Denysov had gathered information about the blogger and supplied Trepova with explosives through a courier service.

The agency claimed that Denysov acted on orders from the Ukrainian security services and left Russia the day after the bombing, which was the latest attack inside Russia on a high-profile pro-war figure. Last year, a nationalist TV commentator was assassinated when a bomb exploded in her SUV outside Moscow.

Tatarsky was the pen name of Maxim Fomin, who had accumulated more than 560,000 followers on his Telegram messaging app channel. He had joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed insurgency erupted there in 2014 and fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging.

Military bloggers have become increasingly visible in Russia during the invasion of Ukraine, supporting the war but also exposing flaws in military strategy. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has shut down independent media outlets and muzzled any criticism of the war.

The FSB also reasserted Thursday that Trepova was a supporter of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The security service accused Navalny’s top allies, Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov, of making repeated calls for subversive activities in Russia.

Zhdanov said on his messaging app channel Thursday that authorities could try to use the explosion to extend Navalny’s prison term and to add the anti-corruption foundation he established to Russia’s list of terrorist organizations.

Navalny, the Kremlin’s fiercest foe, spent years exposing official corruption and organizing massive anti-government protests. He is currently serving a nine-year fraud sentence that he has denounced as a political vendetta.

His lawyers and associates said Wednesday that Navalny was suffering from acute stomach pains and voiced fears that he might have been poisoned.

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