ST PETERSBURG, Russia — An explosion tore through a cafe in Russia's second-largest city Sunday, killing a prominent military blogger who had supported the fighting in Ukraine and was speaking at a patriotic discussion event.
Russian news reports said blogger Vladlen Tatarsky was killed in the explosion at the Street Food Bar No. 1 cafe in St. Petersburg. Twenty-five people were wounded, and 19 of them were hospitalized, according to the regional governor, Alexander Beglov.
Russia media and military bloggers said Tatarsky was meeting with members of the public and that a woman presented him with a box containing a statuette that apparently exploded. A patriotic Russian group that organized the event said it had taken security precautions, but added that “regrettably, they proved insufficient.”
The reports did not mention any claim of responsibility. The Interior Ministry said everyone at the cafe at the time of the blast was being “checked for involvement.”
Since the fighting in Ukraine began on Feb. 24, 2022, various fires, explosions and apparent assassinations have occurred in Russia without any clear connection to the conflict.
Tatarsky had filed regular reports from Ukraine. Tatarsky is the pen name for Maxim Fomin who had accumulated more than 560,000 followers on his Telegram messaging app channel. He was known for his blustery pronouncements and ardent pro-war rhetoric.
After the Kremlin's annexation of four regions of Ukraine last year, Tatarsky posted a video in which he vowed: “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.”
Many countries have condemned the annexation as illegal.
A top Ukrainian government official speculated that internal Russian opposition to the Kremlin's invasion was behind the blast.
“Spiders are eating each other in a jar,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote in English on Twitter. “Question of when domestic terrorism would become an instrument of internal political fight was a matter of time.”
Last August, Darya Dugina, a 29-year-old commentator with a nationalist Russian TV channel, died when a remotely controlled explosive device planted in her SUV blew up as she was driving on the outskirts of Moscow. She and her father — a philosopher, writer and political theorist — strongly supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine.
Russian authorities blamed Ukraine for the attack, but Kyiv denied involvement.