A well-known Russian military blogger, Vladlen Tatarsky, was killed in an explosion at a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday, authorities said.
Twenty-five other people were injured in the blast, 19 of whom were hospitalized, the city’s governor said. Investigators were questioning everyone who was inside the cafe, state media reported.
An “explosive device” went off, causing part of the building’s facade to collapse, according to state news agency TASS, citing preliminary information. Authorities opened a murder investigation, but it was not immediately clear if Tatarsky was the intended target of the blast.
“Today, an unknown explosive device exploded in a cafe in the center of St. Petersburg. According to preliminary data, as a result of this, a military blogger, known as Vladlen Tatarskiy, died, and 19 people were also injured of varying severity,” Russia’s Investigative Committee for St. Petersburg said in a statement, adding that it was treating the case as suspected murder.
Investigators and forensic specialists were on scene, the agency said. All the circumstances and details of the crime committed are being established,” it said.
Russia’s Interior Ministry confirmed Tatarsky was killed in the blast.
Tatarsky supported the war in Ukraine, had gained popularity since the start of what Russia calls its “special military operation” by providing analysis and commentary.
Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin, created his Telegram channel in 2019, naming it in honor of the protagonist of Victor Pelevin’s novel “Generation ‘P,’” according to Russian state news agency Vesti. He had since written several books.
Before that, in 2014, Tatarsky fought against Ukrainian nationalists with the Donbas resistance, according to Vesti, citing public sources.
Tatarsky had more than half a million followers on Telegram and while he was aggressively pro-war, he had sometimes been critical of Russian setbacks in Ukraine.
In May last year, he told CNN that he was not criticizing the overall operation, rather “individual episodes,” and that he still believed Russia would achieve its goals in Ukraine.
Tatarsky gained prominence after attending the ceremony in the Kremlin that marked the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
St. Petersburg’s prosecutor Viktor Melnik traveled to the scene to coordinate the actions of emergency services and law enforcement agencies, TASS reported. The governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, was overseeing the coordination of the work of the special services and the provision of assistance to the victims of the explosion, TASS said.