Russian investigators say they have arrested the main suspect in the killing of the pro-war Russian the blogger Vladlen Tatarsky. Mr Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin, was killed on Sunday after a bomb exploded in a cafe 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 key suspect in the murder and her apartment was searched this morning by the special OMON police unit.
RussiaThe Investigative Committee has now confirmed that she has been arrested by the police.
In a statement issued moments ago, they said: “On suspicion of involvement in the explosion in a cafe in St. Petersburg, the employees of the Russian Investigative Committee, together with the operational services, arrested Daria Trepova.”
Her arrest follows the release of a video showing Ms Trepova walking towards the Street Food No 1 cafe and carrying a box containing what could be a small statue containing 450g of TNT.
The 26-year-old has a history of opposing the military campaign Ukraine and was arrested on February 26 after participating in an anti-war demonstration called “Bloody Mistress”.
Witnesses said Trepova approached the pro-war blogger in the moments before the explosion.
According to his testimony, he told Tatarsky that he had brought a sculpture of him and wanted to give it to him as a gift.
However, the security personnel asked him to leave at the door of the cafe, suspecting that there might be a bomb.
Tatarsky laughed and told him to go get it, which he did, before presenting the bust to the pro-war blogger. Then he placed it on a nearby table.
The explosion occurred three to five minutes after the exchange between the two, resulting in the death of the pro-war activist.
Reports say Trepova, whose boyfriend Dmitry Rylov is a member of the Russian Liberation Army, was booked on a flight from St. Petersburg last night.
The destination remains a secret, but it has been suggested that she intended to travel to Georgia via Turkey.
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Many Russians moved to Georgia after last year’s military draft for the war in Ukraine.
Trepova, a former grocery store worker in St. Petersburg, said she texted a friend and said: “I could have died here, I’d rather have died here, I’ve been set up.”
Investigators say they have identified a second suspect in the attack and have named him Maria Yaran, 40 years old.
He is said to be in the hospital in St. Petersburg after the attack.
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, was engaged in a bitter power struggle with RussiaThe Ministry of Defense and the military leaders.
In particular, he repeatedly attacked the Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu and Russiageneral general Valery Gerasimov for his conduct of the war in Ukraine.
Yesterday’s bomb attack took place in a restaurant belonging 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, as Tatarsky had attended a previous event earlier in the day without incident.