Suspect in killing of Russian war blogger charged with terrorism

by Jacob Fuller

Russian investigators on Tuesday charged Darya Trepova, a 26-year-old St Petersburg resident, with terrorist offenses over the killing of pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in a bomb blast, and remanded her in pre-trial detention.

Tatarsky, a cheerleader for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine whose real name was Maxim Fomin, died on Sunday in a St Petersburg cafe where he was due to talk.

The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said it had charged Trepova with committing “a terrorist act by an organized group that caused intentional death”. The charges carry a maximum jail term of 20 years.

It said she had acted under instructions from people working on behalf of Ukraine.

Russia’s health ministry said 42 others had been injured in the blast, and 24 were still in hospital as of late Tuesday.

Trepova was transferred from St Petersburg to Moscow, where the Basmanny district court on Tuesday remanded her in custody until June 2, Russian news agencies reported.

Footage of the St Petersburg event had Tatarsky showing the figurine off to his audience before it exploded.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee on Monday accused Ukrainian intelligence of organizing the killing with help from supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny – a possible reference to the fact that Trepova once registered for an anti-Kremlin tactical voting scheme promoted by Navalny’s movement.

An aide to the Ukrainian president said the attack was the result of internal conflict in Russia.

Ilya Ponomaryov, a former Russian lawmaker turned Ukraine-based Kremlin critic, published a statement from what he said was a group of Russian militants called the National Republican Army in which it claimed responsiblity for the blast.

Last August Ponomaryov said the National Republican Army had planted a car bomb that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of an ultra-nationalist, near Moscow. Until that point, the group had never been referred to publicly before.

His assertion and the group’s existence could not be independently verified by Reuters.

Court documents indicated Trepova had been detained at a protest on Feb. 24 last year, the day Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine.

Trepova’s husband told the independent investigative outlet The Insider he believed she had been framed and had not known the statuette contained explosives.

Tatarsky had himself fought in Ukraine for separatist forces, and also served time in Ukraine for bank robbery.

Last year, in a video shot at a ceremony in the Kremlin to mark Russia’s unilateral annexation of four Ukrainian regions, he said Russia should “kill everyone” and “rob everyone” in Ukraine.

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters