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War blogger Vladlen Tatarsky killed in explosion in a Petersburg cafe

Source: Meduza
Vladlen Tatarsky

An explosion occurred on the evening of April 2 in the St. Petersburg cafe Street Food Bar No. 1, reports Interfax, citing local emergency services. The explosion killed one person and injured another 15. “According to the latest information, a gas cylinder may have exploded in the cafe,” said emergency services. There was no fire following the explosion.


Petersburg news outlet Fontanka writes that Streetbar belongs to Wagner Group founder and food service tycoon Evgeny Prigozhin. A discussion club called Cyberfront Z meets in the cafe on weekends. On April 2, “war blogger” Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin, was giving a talk. A poster for the event said that the blogger would discuss “what it’s like to file stories from hot spots while under fire, and also explain what it means to be a military correspondent.” Political scientist Konstantin Dolgov said that there was a possibility that Prigozhin would attend the event.

Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs says that Tatarsky was killed in the explosion. Fontanka reports that a patron of the cafe brought a small sculpture of a bust, which then exploded, to the event as a gift for Tatarsky. She reportedly gave the sculpture to Tatarsky and took her seat. The explosion occurred five minutes later. Attendees seated in the front rows suffered the most injuries. A search is underway for the woman who brought in the sculpture. Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case for murder. The event’s organizer says he had security measures in place, but that they “turned out to be insufficient.” Television network REN published a video showing Tatarsky looking at the gift.

Investigators are considering several possible versions of events, including deliberate murder, reports Interfax. A source from emergency services says that an unidentified young woman gave Tatarsky a small statue, which contained a radio-controlled explosive device. The device may have been activated after the woman left the venue.

Pro-Kremlin Telegram channel Ranshe Vsekh reports that the woman in question is Maria Yarun, from Ivano-Frankivsk, in Ukraine. She introduced herself as Anastasia at the event. According to Ranshe Vsekh’s source, the woman is now in the hospital.

Publication Verstka found a page on the social network site VKontake belonging to a Maria Yarun from Ivano-Frankivsk, with pictures that resemble those posted by Ranshe Vsekh. The page was last active in 2018.

A source inside Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry told state broadcaster RBC that Russian intelligence services have known for some time that an assassination attempt on Tatarsky was in the works.

Vladlen Tatarsky is a blogger and one of the most famous of Russia’s social media “war correspondents.” He is from Makiivka, in the Donetsk region. His Telegram channel has over 560,000 subscribers. He fought for the self-proclaimed “DNR” as part of the “Vostok” battalion, as well as for the self-proclaimed “LNR.” Before that, he served a prison sentence for armed robbery. He is also the author of several books about the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In one of his most famous videos, he says, “We’ll defeat everyone, we’ll kill everyone, we’ll rob everyone we need to. Everything will be the way we like it.”

Russian propagandists blamed Ukraine for Tatarsky’s death and demanded retaliatory measures. “Tatarsky was killed in downtown Petersburg. Ukrainian terrorists killed him. They are obviously all over our country. And they will kill and blow things up. But we’re not at war with the Ukrainian people. And we’ll teach Ukrainian swine everywhere. We’re a civilization, and that’s not all,” writes Anton Krasovsky, former director of the RT television network. “When will this country start to respond? The terrorists have lights, water, a working railroad, restaurants, Internet, the killers’ leaders travel around the country with TV cameras,” Tina Kandelaki, the deputy director of Gazprom Media, posted on Telegram. “What? Are we going to forget? Forgive?” wrote Magarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief.

Former State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, who lives in Ukraine, told the publication Sota that he knows Vladlen Tatarsky’s killers. “I’ll comment tomorrow, when we know the official position of the group which carried out this action,” he said. Ponomarev has previously claimed that he helped organize the murder of Daria Dugina, the daughter of philosopher and propagandist Alexander Dugin, but he was unable to provide any convincing evidence for his claim.

Mykhailo Podolyak, presidential adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, called the explosion that killed Tatarsky a manifestation of “internal political struggle.”

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