Coalminer-turned Kremlin propagandist Vladlen Tatarsky was killed in what appears to be a targeted bombing in Russia’s second largest city on Sunday.
Tatarsky was one of the most influential online supporters of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and amassed more than 560,000 followers on his Telegram account.
The 40-year-old made his name early in the operation by publishing videos analysing the military situation on the ground and offering advice for mobilised troops.
Tatarsky, real name Maxim Fomin, was born in Soviet Ukraine, but obtained Russian citizenship in 2021 and is now one of the most prominent backers of Putin’s war. The Kremlin propagandist came from the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, which Russia claims to have annexed and is currently mostly held by Russian troops. Many countries have condemned the annexation as illegal.
After the Kremlin’s annexation of four regions of Ukraine last year, Tatarsky posted a video in which he stated: ‘That’s it. We’ll defeat everybody, kill everybody, rob everybody we need to. It will all be the way we like it. God be with you.’
Tatarsky, who obtained Russian citizenship in 2021, is understood to have taken the side of Russian proxy forces when they occupied the eastern Ukrainian territory in 2014.
He worked as a coalminer before starting a furniture business. When he ran into financial difficulties, he robbed a bank and was sentenced to prison. He fled from custody after a Russia-backed separatist rebellion engulfed the Donbas in 2014, weeks after Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Then he joined separatist rebels and fought on the front line before turning to blogging.
Pro-Putin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky (pictured) was killed in what may be a targeted bombing in Russia’s second largest city on Sunday
Military bloggers and patriotic commentators compared the bombing that killed Tatarsky to the killing last August of Darya Dugina, a nationalist TV commentator. Dugina and Tatarsky are pictured together
This is the moment Tatarsky was handed a statuette that is believed to have been hiding the bomb that exploded at Street Food Bar No. 1
Once Putin launched his full-scale invasion of the nation, Tatarsky began filing regular reports from Ukraine.
Last December, Tatarsky vowed: ‘We will conquer everyone, we’ll kill everyone. We’ll loot whoever we need to, and everything will be just as we like it.’
He was known for his blustery pronouncements and ardent pro-war rhetoric that advocated for the elimination of the Ukrainian state.
Earlier in October, he shared a video declaring: ‘What are Ukrainians? I suddenly understood it. A Ukrainian is a Russian who got mentally sick… A Ukrainian is a Russian spiritual transvestite who is trying to squeeze into another skin.
‘I was always interested – when was this moment when they shifted from a healthy Russian person…into total schizophrenia?
Tatarsky, real name Maxim Fomin, (pictured) was born in Soviet Ukraine, but obtained Russian citizenship in 2021. He is now one of the most prominent backers of Putin’s war
This is the moment of the explosion that killed Kremlin top war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky and wounded dozens of people attending an event in a cafe in St Petersburg on Sunday
‘The future of Ukraine, those people who live there, is that they are Russian people and they will return to their normal state.
‘When we win in Ukraine, the future of these people is that they are Russian people who recovered from their craziness, their spiritual transvestism, and returned to their normal state.’
In June when Russian troops were forced to leave Snake Island by Ukraine, he praised the ‘heroic fight’ of Putin’s fighters.
Like other Putin cheerleaders, Tatarsky also took aim at the Russian army for failing to fight even more ruthlessly in Ukraine.
Just last week, he took to Telegram to highlight the alleged problems within the Army and argued: ‘We need to change the system.’
It is understood that the blast was ’caused by an improvised explosive device hidden inside a statue given to Tatarsky as a gift’. Russian media has shared a photo of a young woman (pictured) suspected to have given Tatarsky the figurine
Before the blast on Sunday, Tatarsky (pictured) spoke to a party in front of projection of an image of himself
Tatarsky was killed in a blast at Street Food Bar No. 1, located in the St Petersburg city centre, on Sunday after he was reportedly handed a figurine of himself containing explosives by an unnamed woman at a political event at a cafe
Pictured: Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky making a video from the Ukraine frontline
He told his followers that just ‘replacing the defence minister or chief of the general staff’ would not be enough to correct the issues.
Similarly, in November, when Moscow announced it would be pulling troops out of Kherson, Ukrain, Tatarsky slammed commanders for making war plans that were ‘idiotic’ and ‘based on disinformation.’
He also sarcastically hit out at military leaders last December when Ukraine attacked an airbase in Ryazan with a drone, saying: ‘Who can say which academy teaches that airfields must be guarded during a war?
‘Or is it a secret sacred knowledge that is transmitted only to the chosen few?’
Tatarsky has also publicly denounced Russian activists and cultural leaders who have criticised the war.
Tatarsky was killed on Sunday in a bomb attack in St Petersburg after he was reportedly handed a figurine of himself containing explosives by an unnamed woman at a political event at a cafe.
Around 100 people were at the event, with at least 25 injured by the blast and four in a critical condition.
It is not known if the woman who handed him the statue, which Russian media said was a gold-coloured likeness of Tatarsky and contained 200g of TNT, was aware of its contents.
Eyewitnesses reported that when Tatatsky was given the statuette he joked to the woman: ‘I hope you didn’t make me fat.’ It exploded around three minutes later.
It was not immediately clear who had carried out the bombing attack on Tatarsky in Putin’s home city as no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the death.
Pictured: The St Petersburg cafe where Tatarsky was killed on Sunday in a bomb attack
Pictured: A man lays flowers outside the cafe following the explosion as Russian forces take security measures
Analysts in the country have speculated that the attack was carried out by the Ukrainian secret service.
Military bloggers and patriotic commentators immediately pointed a finger at Ukraine and compared the bombing to the killing last August of Darya Dugina, a nationalist TV commentator.
Dugina was killed when a remotely controlled explosive device planted in her SUV blew up as she was driving on the outskirts of Moscow. Russian authorities blamed Ukraine’s military intelligence for her death, but Kyiv denied involvement.
If he was deliberately targeted, it would be the second assassination on Russian soil of a high-profile figure associated with the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s foreign ministry on Sunday paid tribute to Tatarsky and lashed out at Western governments for failing to react to the attack.
Bloggers like Vladlen Tatarsky ‘are defenders of the truth’, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram, adding that the lack of reaction from Western governments ‘despite their concerns for the welfare of journalists and the free press speaks for itself’.
The explosion had a power of 200 grams of TNT, law enforcement officials said. Pictured: The damaged exterior of Street Food Bar No. 1 in St Petersburg following Sunday’s explosion
Around 100 people were at the event, with at least 25 injured by the blast and four in a critical condition. Pictured: An interior view of the cafe after the bombing
It was not immediately clear who had carried out the bombing attack on Tatarsky in Putin’s home city as no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the death. Pictured: The interior of the cafe after the blast
‘Russian journalists constantly feel the threat of reprisals from the Kyiv regime,’ Zakharova said.
‘It is thanks to Russian war correspondents that the world sees true, operational images and finds out what is happening in Ukraine.’
Tatarsky was ‘dangerous’ for Ukraine ‘but bravely went on until the end, fulfilling his duty’, she added.
The blogger is survived by his wife, Ksenia, according to local news reports. He is also believed to have fathered a son from his first marriage.