Russian police have arrested a woman suspected of delivering a bomb that killed a prominent pro-war Russian military blogger in a blast in a cafe in central St Petersburg on Sunday, as authorities blamed Ukraine for the attack.
Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed by a bomb blast as he was hosting a discussion with other pro-war commentators at a cafe on the banks of the Neva River in the historic heart of St Petersburg.
Police said they had identified a woman called Darya Trepova as the suspect and that she was arrested in an apartment in St Petersburg after a search on Monday morning. Authorities said she was a supporter of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
In a statement, Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee claimed the attack was “planned by the special services of Ukraine with the involvement of agents from those who had cooperated with the so-called Navalny Anti-Corruption Fund [Foundation]”.
Sources in the country’s interior ministry told the RBK news outlet that the attack was “carefully planned in advance by several people”.
Trepova had apparently spoken with Tatarsky prior to the explosion, the Associated Press reported. One witness said the woman told Tatarsky she had made a bust of the blogger but guards asked her to leave it at the door, suspecting it could be a bomb, the agency reported. They joked and laughed, and then she went to the door, grabbed the bust and presented it to Tatarsky, according to the AP report.
A Ukrainian official has suggested the attack was planned internally in a dispute between pro-Kremlin groups. Russian news reports said Trepova had said that she had been “used”.
The blast that ripped through Street Food Bar No 1, which sits in sight of historic landmarks and has ties to the Vladimir Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, stunned Russia’s second largest city on Sunday. Whoever ultimately stands behind the attack, it is the latest reminder of how the violence unleashed by Russia in Ukraine has increased the dangers in its own cities as well.