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Cafe attack that claimed military blogger’s life suspected to have been carried out by Russian prisons

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A Moscow court on Tuesday sentenced the woman suspected of involvement in the bombing that killed a Russian military blogger in Saint Petersburg to two months in prison pending investigation.

The blogger, Vladlen Tatarsky, 40, was a staunch supporter of the war in Ukraine and reported regularly on the fighting from the front lines. He was killed on Sunday while leading a discussion in a riverside café in the historic heart of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city.

Russian authorities called the bombing an act of terrorism and blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating it.

Police arrested 26-year-old Daria Trepova, a resident of Saint Petersburg, who was seen on video moments before the explosion presenting Tatarsky with a statuette believed to contain explosives.

The Ministry of Interior released a video in which Trepova told a police officer that she had brought the bust to a café. When asked who gave it to her, she said she would explain later. The circumstances under which Trepova spoke were unclear, including whether she was coerced.

The National Anti-Terrorism Committee, which coordinates counter-terrorism operations, said the bombing was “planned by the Ukrainian special services”.

It said Trepova was an “active supporter” of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Last year, she was arrested and spent 10 days in custody after taking part in an anti-war rally.

The Ukrainian authorities did not respond directly to the accusation, but President Volodymyr Zelensky said about the attack that he did not think about the events in Russia, and his chief advisor described the bombing as part of the internal turmoil in Russia.

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While Trepova was arrested in Saint Petersburg, her case was sent to Moscow, where the country’s top investigative agencies are headquartered, apparently reflecting her highest priority.

In a closed session, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow ordered him to remain in custody until June 2 pending an investigation.

Russian law proposes a life sentence for terrorism-related offences, but life sentences are not handed down to the women, who instead face sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

According to Russian media reports, Trepova told investigators that she had been asked to hand over the statue, but that she did not know what was inside.

The bombing injured 40 other people, 25 of whom were hospitalized. It was the latest attack inside Russia on a prominent pro-war figure.

Russia’s Federal Security Service accused Ukraine’s intelligence services last August of killing Daria Dugina, daughter of nationalist ideologist Alexander Dugin, in a car bomb attack near Moscow that President Vladimir Putin called “evil”.

Ukraine denied involvement.

Tatarsky is the pseudonym of Maxim Fomin, who has amassed more than 560,000 followers on his messaging app Telegram channel.

Tatarsky, who joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed insurgency broke out there in 2014, fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging.

Military bloggers have become increasingly visible in Russia, supporting the war but occasionally exposing flaws in military strategy while the Kremlin has shut down independent media and muted any criticism of the war.

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