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Daria Trepova Sentenced to 27 Years for Pro-War Blogger's Killing

Darya Trepova. Olga Maltseva / AFP

A St. Petersburg court on Thursday sentenced Daria Trepova to 27 years in prison for the killing of prominent pro-war blogger and propagandist Maxim Fomin, better known as Vladlen Tatarsky, the independent Mediazona news website reported

The sentence is the harshest known sentence handed down to a woman in modern Russian history, Mediazona said.

Trepova, 26, gifted Tatarsky a golden bust of himself at an April 2023 event in a St. Petersburg cafe popular among ultranationalists and pro-war figures. An explosive device hidden inside the statuette went off a few minutes later, killing Tatarsky and injuring over 50 people. 

Russia's Second Western Military District Court found Trepova guilty of terrorism, illegal trafficking of explosive devices and illegal document forgery and sentenced her to 27 years in a medium-security penal colony.

She has also been ordered to pay a fine of 600,000 rubles ($6,750).

Prosecutors had requested a 28-year sentence for Trepova.

Tatarsky, a convicted bank robber turned pro-Russian rebel in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, had been an ardent supporter of the invasion of Ukraine.

Investigators claimed Trepova acted on the instructions of individuals located in Ukraine. 

Trepova, who opposes the war in Ukraine, insisted she did not know that a bomb was hidden inside the bust. She pleaded guilty to the document forgery charges while maintaining her innocence regarding the other two charges. 

According to Trepova’s version of events, she acted on the instruction of Russian opposition journalist Roman Popkov and an individual using the alias Gestalt.

In Trepova’s testimony on Monday, she said she agreed to deliver the bust to Tatarsky after she was told it contained a listening and tracking device. 

“I was always sure that there was just a microphone in the bust,” she said during the testimony. 

The state prosecutor dismissed Trepova’s account.

The other defendant on trial, Dmitry Kasintsev, 27, was sentenced to one year and nine months in jail on Thursday for harboring Trepova in his apartment after the cafe bombing.

A former medical student at St. Petersburg State University, Trepova is reported to have attended Russian opposition events before Tatarsky’s killing but otherwise led a private life. When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, she and her husband Dmitry Rylov were detained at an anti-war rally in central St. Peterburg. 

Eva Levenberg, a criminal lawyer at the OVD-Info human rights project, has said that there are few precedents for such terms and that they are usually handed to people who had “the most active role and involvement in committing a crime.”

“It is a very serious punishment even by Russian standards.”

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