Killing of Russian military blogger at St Petersburg cafe investigated as 'high-profile' murder

3 April 2023, 06:30 | Updated: 3 April 2023, 06:53

Vladlen Tatarsky has been killed and at least sixteen people were injured in an explosion at a cafe in St Petersburg
Vladlen Tatarsky has been killed and at least sixteen people were injured in an explosion at a cafe in St Petersburg. Picture: Telegram/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The killing of a prominent Russian military blogger is being investigated as murder after dozens of people were injured in an explosion at a cafe in St Petersburg.

Pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky was been killed in the explosion, which has been described by authorities as a "high-profile murder".

Twenty-four others were taken to hospital and six were in critical condition, authorities added.

It is thought to have been caused by an explosive device, according to sources quoted by Russian news agencies.

Mr Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, had over 560,000 followers on Telegram, one of the most popular social platforms in Russia, and was among the most prominent of the influential military bloggers providing commentary on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

There is currently no indication of who was responsible for the blast, which occurred at at the "Street Bar" cafe in the city.

A St Petersburg website said the cafe had at one time belonged to Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, an elite paramilitary force that is fighting for Russia in Ukraine.

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According to media and military bloggers, Mr Tatarsky had been meeting with members of the public and that a woman presented him with a statuette which apparently exploded.

Pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky
Pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky. Picture: Telegram

He was among the hundreds that attended a ceremony at the Kremlin in September 2022 to proclaim Russia's annexation of four partly occupied regions of neighbouring Ukraine - a move that was condemned as illegal by most countries at the UN.

Mr Tatarsky was shown saying in a video clip at the time: "We'll defeat everyone, we'll kill everyone, we'll rob everyone we need to. Everything will be as we like it."

According to media and military bloggers, Mr Tatarsky had been meeting with members of the public and that a woman presented him with a statuette which apparently exploded.
According to media and military bloggers, Mr Tatarsky had been meeting with members of the public and that a woman presented him with a statuette which apparently exploded. Picture: Alamy
Emergency services workers at the "Street Cafe" in St Petersburg, where the blast occurred.
Emergency services workers at the "Street Cafe" in St Petersburg, where the blast occurred. Picture: Alamy

Military analyst and British former air vice-marshall Sean Bell has said it "looks really unlikely" that the Ukrainian military was involved in the attack because it was not a military target.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: "It could have been the resistance movement, much more likely.

"As rising Russian casualties from the war in Ukraine there's increasing domestic unrest back at home."

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