The killing of a leading Russian military blogger by a bomb explosion and its aftermath were caught on camera, footage shows, as details in new reports potentially shed light on the targeted assassination that has enraged pro-war figures.
Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed Sunday in an explosion during an event at a St. Petersburg cafe that injured 40 others. Media reports suggested the explosive may have been stashed inside a figurine of Tatarsky gifted to him by an attendee.
According to a video shared by St. Petersburg’s 78.ru news site, the explosion took place as Tatarsky packed the statuette back into its box during an audience member’s question.
A second video of the explosion’s aftermath showed bloodied audience members emerging from the bombed-out cafe.
The video’s author, identified as Marat Arnis, a special correspondent for the state broadcaster Channel One, can be heard saying “I think our speaker [Tatarsky] is f*cked.”
Tatarsky’s death sparked outrage and calls for vengeance among prominent Russian pro-war hawks.
President Vladimir Putin posthumously awarded Tatarsky the Order of Courage late Monday.
Authorities detained 26-year-old St. Petersburg resident Daria Trepova in connection with the attack. Russia’s Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) claimed Tatarsky’s assassination was orchestrated by Ukrainian intelligence and involved jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s banned network.
Navalny’s associates took to social media to deny the allegations, accusing the Kremlin of seeking to press additional criminal charges against the fierce Putin critic.
A report based on unidentified sources by St. Petersburg’s Fontanka.ru news site suggested that Trepova’s actions had been supervised by a Kyiv-based “activist.”
Trepova was allegedly instructed to gain Tatarsky’s trust during previous events, then bring over the statue from Moscow without her knowing of its contents. Trepova’s instructor had reportedly bought plane tickets from St. Petersburg to Uzbekistan, where she was promised to travel onward to Kyiv.
Fontanka.ru reported that the explosive device was allegedly activated remotely via a SIM card inside the Tatarsky statue.
The two published videos from the cafe, which is owned by the founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, showed a woman resembling Trepova interacting with Tatarsky at the event and briefly appearing among the victims outside.
Arnis said in an interview he had witnessed Trepova telling Tatarsky that security guards initially refused to let the statue inside the cafe.
“Bring it over. We’ll check,” Arnis recalled Tatarsky telling Trepova.
Five minutes later, Arnis said, Tatarsky was killed in the explosion.