Friday, October 27, 2023

Darya Trepova Confesses to Involvement in Vladlen Tatarsky’s Death


Russian investigators have detained a woman in connection with the bombing of a St Petersburg cafe that left over 30 people injured. Darya Trepova, 26, was taken into custody after video footage showed her entering the cafe with a cardboard box that later exploded. In a brief excerpt of her interrogation released by the Russian Interior Ministry, she admitted to handing over a statuette that caused the blast, but did not say she knew it would explode.

The cafe, Street Food Bar No 1 near the River Neva, was once owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin – who runs Russia’s notorious Wagner mercenary group. The bombing occurred during a patriotic meeting attended by pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky. Prigozhin paid tribute to Tatarsky in a late-night video, displaying a flag with the words “in good memory of Vladlen Tatarsky”.

Russia’s anti-terrorism committee alleged the attack was organised by Ukrainian special services “with people co-operating with” opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Mr Navalny has been in jail ever since he returned to Russia from Germany in January 2021. He survived a nerve agent attack in Russia in August 2020, which was blamed on Russian security service agents.

Tatarsky, a vocal supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, was part of a pro-Kremlin military blogger community that has taken on a relatively high-profile role since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. He had more than half a million followers and, like Prigozhin, had a criminal past. He claimed to have helped launch combat drones and build fortifications.

The military bloggers have provided information about the war in a country where many have become frustrated with the lack of accurate information from official sources. Information provided by the Russian military, Kremlin-controlled television and state officials has been criticised for being inaccurate. Last week, several official Russian sources shared a video allegedly showing Ukrainian troops harassing civilians. Western analysts proved using open-source information that the video had been staged.

Who was behind Tatarsky’s murder is unclear, but it is reminiscent of the killing of Darya Dugina, a vocal supporter of the war and the daughter of a Russian ultra-nationalist. She died in a car bomb attack near Moscow last August. Russian officials have already hinted that Ukraine is to blame for the explosion. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak blamed the blast on a Russian “internal political fight”, tweeting: “Spiders are eating each other in a jar.”

The blast could be linked to political infighting in Russia, as Kyiv has said. There are now a lot of angry men carrying guns in Russia. With the military running low on troops, convicts have been let out of prison, handed weapons and sent to the front. Russian authorities have also conducted large-scale recruitment campaigns for volunteer fighters and recruited some 300,000 men in a “partial mobilisation”. The Kommersant newspaper recently reported that the number of murders committed in Russia last year rose for the first time in 20 years.

The bombing at Street Food Bar No 1 has raised questions about who was behind it and what their motives were. While some have suggested it was part of an internal political fight in Russia, others have blamed Ukrainian special services or radical groups operating independently of the government. It is clear that tensions between Ukraine and Russia are still high and that violence could be used as a tool to further political agendas.

Latest stories