vladlen tatarsky russian military blogger is killed in st petersburg bombing

Maksim Fomin, who was known as Vladlen Tatarsky, represented a radical wing of pro-invasion bloggers and activists who backed Moscow’s war but also criticized what they saw as the flaws in the Russian Army.

A popular military blogger who was one of the most influential voices backing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine was killed on Sunday when a bomb exploded in a cafe in central St. Petersburg, Russia’s Interior Ministry said.

The blogger, Maksim Fomin, who was known as Vladlen Tatarsky, was at the Street Food Bar #1 Cafe for an event in Russia’s second-largest city at which he was speaking about his experience as a military reporter, the state news media reported.

Videos posted on social media showed Mr. Tatarsky receiving a small statue onstage shortly before the explosion. St. Petersburg’s independent news outlet, Fontanka, cited a witness who said he had received the statue as a gift from a woman who introduced herself as a painter called Nastya.

At least 25 other people were injured in the explosion, and 19 of them were hospitalized, according to the city’s governor, Aleksandr Beglov. Videos from the site posted on social media showed broken glass and furniture strewn around the cafe.

The killing of Mr. Tatarsky apparently was the most high-profile attack on a prominent war supporter in Russia since August, when a car bomb killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent ultranationalist supporter of Mr. Putin. United States intelligence officials said they believed the attack had been authorized by the Ukrainian government, which denied involvement.

After the deadly explosion on Sunday, Mihailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, suggested the attack was a sign of internal fractures in Russian society, in line with Kyiv’s usual description of sabotage and terror attacks in Russia since the start of the war.

Mr. Podolyak wrote on Twitter: “Spiders are eating each other in a jar. Question of when domestic terrorism would become an instrument of internal political fight was a matter of time.”

Since Russia’s invasion, Mr. Tatarsky, 40, had emerged as one of the main pro-war voices on the Telegram messaging app, which has been widely used in Russia’s restrictive news media environment to disseminate news, opinion and pro-war propaganda.

He has amassed more than 550,000 followers on the app, publishing daily videos in which he described the situation on the front line, the problems faced by the Russian Army and prospects of the war.

Vladlen Tatarsky in an undated photo from social media.Telegram, via Reuters

Last November when a Russian commander announced that Moscow’s troops would be pulled from the strategically important city of Kherson, Ukraine, Mr. Tatarsky was among Russia’s hawkish military bloggers and commentators who responded with despair, anguish and denial.

Mr. Tatarsky reacted to the news by saying in a post that Russia’s overall plan for war was “idiotic” and “based on disinformation.”

A native of Makiivka near Donetsk in Ukraine, Mr. Tatarsky obtained Russian citizenship in 2021. His survivors included his wife, Ksenia. Local news outlets said he also had a son from a first marriage.

Mr. Tatarsky represented a radical wing of pro-invasion bloggers and activists. He argued that Russia must win the war against Ukraine at all costs and called for the elimination of the Ukrainian state.

“We need to end this state sooner or later,” Mr. Tatarsky said on Saturday in his latest video. “This needs to be our policy.”

He also denounced Russian activists and cultural figures who opposed the war, and often criticized the way the Russian Army was conducting the war, including the poor coordination among units and the lack of advanced weapons like drones.

In another recent video, he suggested that nothing would change if “you replace the defense minister or chief of the general staff.”

“We need to change the system,” he said.

Anatoly Kurmanaev contributed reporting.

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