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Russian blogger who pushed for Ukraine war dies in cafe explosion


An explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe killed a popular pro-war Russian blogger and injured at least 16 others, the Russian Interior Ministry said Sunday.

A St. Petersburg woman has been detained on suspicion of being involved in the incident, Interfax, a Russian news agency, reported. Russian authorities said they were investigating the death as a murder.

Vladlen Tatarsky was one of the Ukraine war’s more prominent military bloggers. His Telegram page has more than half a million followers. According to reports, Tatarsky was an alias, and the writer’s real name was Maksim Fomin.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack in a statement. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, praised Fomin and bloggers like him, who she said are regularly threatened by Ukraine.

Military bloggers are valued for their insight and sourcing in a medium that thrives on live coverage. During Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even pro-Kremlin bloggers like Fomin criticized the Russian war effort, often arguing for more aggressive policies or different strategies but remaining pro-war.

Fomin is a former fighter with the separatist Donbas militia, The Washington Post has reported. His radical bent was appreciated by the war’s leaders, as evidenced by the access he was given. That includes Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the financier of the infamous Wagner mercenary group and Putin’s former chef. Fomin conducted an interview with Prigozhin this year in which the Wagner boss criticized Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, over supply issues Wagner has faced.

Russians at Daria Dugina memorial push for tougher action against Ukraine

“When we will run out of all the Wagner fighters, it’s Shoigu and Gerasimov that will probably have to take up arms,” Prigozhin said in the interview with Fomin. “All Russians should speak out and say: ‘Give ammunition to Wagner.’”

Fomin was certainly no peacenik. A BBC journalist tweeted a video of Fomin from last September following a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. In it, the blogger says: “We’ll conquer everyone, we’ll kill everyone, we’ll loot whoever we need to, and everything will be just as we like it.”

The explosion that killed Fomin is not the first mysterious attack inside Russian territory. Another pro-Russian writer and commentator, Daria Dugina, was killed by a car bomb in August 2022. She was the daughter of far-right ideologue Alexander Dugin.

One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Portraits of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion one year ago — in ways both big and small. They have learned to survive and support each other under extreme circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed apartment complexes and ruined marketplaces. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated along an expanse of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and take a look at where the fighting has been concentrated.

A year of living apart: Russia’s invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, has forced agonizing decisions for millions of Ukrainian families about how to balance safety, duty and love, with once-intertwined lives having become unrecognizable. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening global divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.


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