Skip to main content
  • Share to or

Fire feud Arsons across St. Petersburg may be part of a personal vendetta between a Ukrainian blogger and a Russian crypto trader

Source: Meduza

Since the end of December, there’s been a series of arson attacks in St. Petersburg residential buildings, all with the same MO. Arsonists have been placing tires outside the doors of apartments and setting them on fire. The St. Petersburg news outlet Bumaga identified seven buildings where the fires were set, all in different parts of St. Petersburg. In most cases, they were quickly extinguished, and the police caught the suspects. According to Bumaga, police have arrested at least eight people in connection with the arsons, six of whom are minors. One of the suspects said he set the tires on fire on orders from “a channel on a messaging app.” Others just said they were paid to do it.

Local media outlets have linked these arsons to a personal conflict between Ukrainian blogger Anatoly Shariy and a cryptocurrency trader from St. Petersburg. According to their findings, the fires are Shariy’s way of taking revenge against 21-year-old trader Pyotr Lunev, or “Odysseus.” (According to St. Petersburg outlet Fontanka, Lunev currently lives in Thailand.)

Shariy and Lunev reportedly launched a “crypto pyramid” together before a falling out in November 2023. Then, a video showing three addresses in St. Petersburg was posted on Shariy’s private Telegram channel. There were arsons at all three of the addresses.

According to Fontanka, fires were set at buildings where Lunev’s wife, parents, relatives, and business partners live. It’s unclear what exactly caused the conflict between the two, but Lunev’s father, who filed a police report, said that Shariy is trying to extort $8.2 million from his son. A post on Shariy’s Telegram channel implies that Lunev is a “scammer.” Shariy told the outlet that he has nothing to do with the arsons.

On January 7, another arson took place. Tires were set on fire outside an apartment belonging to Trofim Tatarenkov, a host on Russia’s state-run Sputnik radio. On Telegram, Tatarenkov said the perpetrators “wanted victims,” claiming that “the lights were on in the apartment” and “visible from the street.” He added that it “smelled of Ukrainian involvement.”

The police arrested three suspects in connection with the incident. In a video released after their arrest, the suspects said they’d been paid $1,000 to set the fire. According to Fontanka, the arson at Tatarenkov’s apartment was also connected to the attacks on Lunev, and not to Tatarenkov’s work, but the publication didn’t specify exactly how the two know each other.

Weekly newsletter

Sign up for The Beet

Underreported stories. Fresh perspectives. From Budapest to Bishkek.

  • Share to or