Darya Trepova, a woman suspected of involvement in a blast at a cafe in central St. Petersburg on Sunday, will appear in Moscow’s Basmanny District Court Tuesday as part of her pre-trial detention. The explosion killed Vladlen Tatarsky, one of the country’s leading pro-Kremlin bloggers, and wounded 40 others.
On Monday, Russian authorities released a video of Trepova admitting to handing a statuette that later blew up. In the video, Trepova does not say she knew there would be an explosion, nor admit any further involvement. The circumstances around which Trepova spoke in the video are unclear.
Russian law can carry a life sentence for terrorism.
Tatarsky, a pseudonym for Maxim Fomin, was a prominent military blogger whose vocal support of Russia’s war efforts had earned him more than 560,000 followers on Telegram.
Tatarsky had been conducting a meet and greet at the cafe on the bank of the Neva River, where he was the guest of a pro-war group called Cyber Front Z, when the blast occurred. A video shared by Mash, a Telegram channel linked to Russian law enforcement, showed Tatarsky being handed something minutes before the explosion.
Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Trepova had previously been detained for her involvement in anti-war rallies.
As more information emerges, here’s what we know about the blast so far.
What caused the explosion in St. Petersburg?
Russia’s Investigative Committee for St. Petersburg said forensic experts were on the scene to identify what caused the explosion. The committee described the case as “murder by a publicly dangerous method.”
Russian media said a woman gifted Tatarsky with a box containing a bust of him, which they believe contained an explosive device that blew up. Cyber Front Z, which organized the event, said that their safety precautions for the high profile event “proved insufficient.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who leads the Wagner mercenary group fighting in eastern Ukraine, said he owned the cafe where the blast occurred.
Who is Vladlen Tatarsky?
Tatarsky was born in Ukraine, according to Russian media, and has fought on the side of pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
Tatarsky gained notoriety as one of Russia’s most prominent nationalist military bloggers, issuing support for the war as well as criticism of military failures.
The Tatarsky pseudonym comes from the protagonist of a Russian novel Generation “П” by Victor Pelevin. The story follows a failed Moscow creative in 1990s post-Soviet Russia amid widespread corruption under Boris Yeltsin’s leadership.
The pro-war blogger often traveled with Russian troops on the front line. He was also present at a Kerlin ceremony in September where Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed four Ukrainian regions in the southern and eastern portions of the country.
Speaking in a video message recorded during the ceremony, he said: “I congratulate everyone, everyone who waited till this moment. We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will rob everyone we need. Everything will be as we like,” he said.
What we know about Darya Trepova
The 26-year-old Trepova was identified as a suspect by Russia’s interior ministry and detained on Monday. According to Russian media outlet TASS, Trepova’s home in St. Petersburg was searched by law enforcement on Sunday and her mother and sister were reportedly questioned.
Court documents obtained by CNN show Trepova was previously arrested for participating in a rally when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
She spent 10 days in custody over attending the anti-war rally, the Associated Press reported.
While Trepova’s husband Dmitry Rylov was a member of the opposition Libertarian Party of Russia, the political party issued a statement via Telegram denying any direct connection to Trepova herself.
Rylov told the independent Russian publication The Insider that he believes Trepova “was really just set up and used.”
Who is behind the attack?
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed Ukraine, saying that Tatarsky’s profile had “won him the hatred of the Kyiv regime,” but no evidence has been presented over who carried out the bombing.
“Spiders are eating each other in a jar,” tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian politician and adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Question of when domestic terrorism would become an instrument of internal political fight was a matter of time, as breakthrough of ripe abscess.”
While on a tour of Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv region, Zelensky declined to make any comment about the blast. “About St. Petersburg. I’m not thinking what is going on in St. Petersburg, or in Moscow. They have to think. Russia have to think about their cities. I’m thinking about our country. And our cities,” he said.
Wagner Group’s Prigozhin warned against blaming Kyiv for the blast—and that it was likely a “group of radicals” not linked to Ukraine.
The blast marks the second killing of a pro-war figure on Russian soil since the war in Ukraine began. Last September, Darya Dugina, the daughter of the ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin credited as the architect of the invasion, died when a bomb exploded in her vehicle.
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