The funeral of high-profile Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was held in Moscow after he was killed in a bomb attack in Saint Petersburg. Tatarsky was killed on Sunday after a woman handed him a bust that later exploded in a cafe, wounding more than 40 people. Russian authorities have claimed that the attack was orchestrated by Ukraine with help from supporters of jailed critic Alexey Navalny. However, Kyiv has blamed it on Russia’s domestic infighting. The funeral was held at the prestigious Troyekurovskoye cemetery in western Moscow with heightened police presence. Some supporters wore the letters Z and V – symbols of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine – on their clothes. Carrying lit candles, priests in white robes led a funeral service at the cemetery. Tatarsky’s awards were placed on velvet cushions near his coffin.
The event took place under heavy security, with metal detectors erected at the entrance and a thorough security check. Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the mercenary Wagner Group, was also present at the funeral. He laid an axe of some kind on top of the coffin when he paid his respects. The cafe where Tatarsky was killed was owned by Prigozhin. In a statement released by his spokespeople, Prigozhin praised the blogger for helping “destroy the enemy”. Russian investigators have charged Darya Trepova, a 26-year-old St Petersburg resident, with “terrorist offences” over the bombing.
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin bestowed the highest Order of Courage on Tatarsky, who was a strong supporter of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. He publicly demanded Russia pursue the war even more aggressively and had more than 500,000 followers on the Telegram messaging app. Tatarsky joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed rebellion erupted there in 2014. He fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging. At a Kremlin ceremony announcing the annexation of four Ukrainian regions last September, Tatarsky recorded himself saying: “We will defeat everyone. We will kill everyone. We will rob everyone as necessary. Just as we like it.”
Putin has accused Western security services of having helped Kyiv stage “terror attacks” in Russia. The attack on Tatarsky came after Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent ultranationalist intellectual, was killed last year in a car bombing outside Moscow, which Russia also blamed on Ukraine.