Russian Woman on Trial in Bombing That Killed Military Blogger

A woman went on trial Wednesday in the bombing that killed a prominent Russian military blogger who died after he was given a bust of himself that later exploded. 

Darya Trepova, 26, is charged with carrying out a terrorist attack, illegal trafficking of explosive devices, and forging documents in the April 2 blast at the St. Petersburg Cafe in which Vladlen Tatarsky was killed and 52 others were injured. 

Trepova was arrested shortly after the bombing and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, according to Russian news reports. 

Tatarsky, 40, was an ardent supporter of the Kremlin’s military action in Ukraine and filed regular reports on the fighting from the front lines. 

Trepova was seen on video presenting Tatarsky with the bust moments before the blast at the riverside cafe in the historic heart of Russia’s second-largest city where he was leading a discussion. 

At her court appearance, Trepova admitted guilt on forging documents but maintained her innocence on the charges of carrying out a terrorist attack and the illegal trafficking of explosives, insisting she didn’t know the bust contained a bomb, Russian media reported. 

Trepova’s 27-year-old acquaintance, Dmitry Kasintsev, is standing trial with her, although he is under house arrest. She had stayed in his apartment after the blast, and the authorities have charged him with concealment of a grave crime. Kasintsev said in court he was willing to plead guilty to a lesser charge of not reporting a crime. 

The judge said that one of those injured in the blast had died, without giving details on whether it was connected to the blast, and adjourned the hearing until Friday. 

Russian authorities have blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating the bombing. Authorities in Kyiv have not directly responded to the accusation, but an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the bombing as part of Russia’s internal turmoil. 

Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, charged that a Ukrainian citizen it identified as Yuriy Denysov had gathered information about Tatarsky and supplied Trepova with explosives through a courier service. The FSB claimed that Denysov acted on orders from the Ukrainian security services. 

Tatarsky was the pen name of Maxim Fomin, who had hundreds of thousand of followers on his Telegram messaging app channel. He had joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed insurgency erupted there in 2014 and fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging. 

Military bloggers have played an increasingly prominent role in Russia amid the fighting in Ukraine, supporting the Kremlin but often criticizing Russia’s military leadership and exposing various military flaws. Unlike independent media or opposition figures, they haven’t faced any crackdown for that criticism. 

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