Russian investigators said they have arrested the prime suspect in the pro-war murder Russian blogger Vladlen Tatarsky. Tatarsky, whose real name is Max Fomin, was killed on Sunday after a bomb exploded at a café in St Petersburg. The blast also injured at least 32 people, 24 of whom were taken to hospital for treatment. Reports say 10 are in a serious condition.
Daria Trepova, 26, had emerged as a prime suspect in the murder and her apartment was raided early this morning by OMON special police forces.
RussiaThe Commission of Inquiry has now confirmed that she has been arrested by the police.
In a statement released recently, they said: “On suspicion of involvement in the explosion in a cafe in St. Petersburg, employees of the Russian Commission of Investigation, together with operational services, have detained Daria Trepova.”
Her arrest follows the release of a video in which Ms Trepova appears to be walking to the No. 1 Street Food café, carrying a box that may contain a small figurine containing 450 grams of TNT.
The 26-year-old has a track record of resisting the military campaign Ukraine and was arrested on February 26 after taking part in an anti-war protest dubbed “Bloody Mistress”.
Witnesses said Trepova had approached the pre-war blogger leading up to the explosion.
According to their testimony, she told Tatarsky that she brought an image of him and that she wanted to give it to him as a gift.
However, security personnel asked her to leave it at the cafe’s door, thinking it might be a bomb.
Tatarsky laughed and told her to go get it, which she did, before presenting the bust to the pro-war blogger. He then placed it on a nearby table.
The explosion occurred within three to five minutes of the exchange between the two, resulting in the death of the pro-war activist.
According to reports, Trepova, whose friend Dmitry Rylov is a member of the so-called Russian Liberation Army, was booked on a flight from St. Petersburg last night.
The destination remains secret, but it has been suggested that she planned to travel to Georgia via Turkey.
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Many Russians went to Georgia after last year’s military draft before the war Ukraine.
Trepova, a former shop assistant in St. Petersburg, is said to have messaged a friend and said, “I could have died there, I would rather have died there, I had been framed.”
Investigators claim to have identified a second suspect in the bombing and have named her as Maria Yaran, 40.
She is reportedly in hospital in Saint Petersburg after the bombing.
Russian experts have speculated that Tatarsky’s assassination may have been intended as a warning to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin, Wagner’s boss, is involved in a bitter power struggle with Russia‘s Ministry of Defense and military leaders.
In particular, he has repeatedly attacked Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Russiatop General Valery Gerasimov for their warfare Ukraine.
Yesterday’s bombing took place in a restaurant that used to belong to Prigozhin.
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, say the location of the attack is significant given that Tatarsky had attended an incident-free event earlier in the day.