Mystery Group Behind Bombing Attack

This week, the National Republican Army claimed credit for the murder of Russian military blogger Vladlen Tartarsky at a St. Petersburg café on Sunday, the Russian independent news outlet Meduza reported.

According to the Associated Press, the 40-year-old Tartarsky, an ardent supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, was leading a discussion at a café in St. Petersburg on Sunday when he was killed by a bomb believed to be hidden inside a small statue. Forty others were wounded in the blast, including 25 who were hospitalized for their injuries.

Calling the incident an act of terrorism, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee accused Ukrainian special services of planning the bombing.

St. Petersburg resident Darya Trepova, 26, was arrested in connection to the bombing. Trepova was seen on video just moments before the blast presenting Tartarsky with the small statue.

In a video released by Russia’s Interior Ministry, Trepova told a police officer that she brought the statue to the café. Russian state media later reported that Trepova told investigators that someone asked her to deliver the statue and she did not know there were explosives inside of it. 

According to Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee, Trepova is an “active supporter” of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In 2022, she spent ten days in jail after being arrested for taking part in an anti-war rally.

On Tuesday, Meduza reported that the National Republican Army took credit for planning the bombing and said the casualties were active supporters of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The group said the bombing was “prepared and carried out” by them “independently” and was not financed or connected to “any foreign structures” or security services.

The group also called on human rights activists in Russia to provide assistance to Treptova.

Vladlen Tartarsky is the pseudonym for Maxim Fomin. Fomin fought with Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 for years before becoming a military blogger.