Suspect in pro-war blogger death detained, Russian investigators say

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Monday morning that it has detained a suspect in the killing of pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky.

The committee said on its Telegram channel that Daria Trepova had been detained “on suspicion of involvement in the explosion in a cafe in St. Petersburg.”

Prominent pro-Kremlin blogger Tatarsky was killed in the explosion on Sunday, with reports suggesting a woman had given him a figurine in a box as a gift before the explosion that killed the blogger and injured 30 other people.

Earlier Monday, the Interfax news agency reported that Trepova had been put on the interior ministry’s wanted list, although no link to Tatarsky’s death had been stated.

On Sunday night, law enforcement officers searched Trepova’s place of residence in St. Petersburg and her mother and sister were interviewed, Russian state news agency Tass reported Monday, adding that “according to preliminary data, it was Trepova who handed the figurine to Tatarsky, which contained explosives.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy to visit Poland this week

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to hold talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda about security issues and economic cooperation, as well as agriculture and the transport of Ukrainian grain via Poland.

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

The visit will take place on Wednesday, with Zelenskyy set to hold talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda about security issues and economic cooperation, as well as agriculture and the transport of Ukrainian grain via Poland.

Zelenskyy will also meet Ukrainian refugees living in Poland, where over one million Ukrainian refugees are estimated to be living as the war drags on. Millions of others have traveled on to other European countries.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since Russia’s invasion began over a year ago, donating much of its own military equipment to Kyiv and calling on other European nations to donate battle tanks to Ukraine and fighter jets.

Zelenskyy has made few trips abroad since the war started, with security concerns high on the list of challenges presented by foreign visits. He last met his Polish counterpart last December when he traveled back from his high-profile trip to the U.S.

— Holly Ellyatt

Alcohol seen to be a significant factor in non-combat deaths among Russian troops

Alcohol continues to be a blight on Russia’s armed forces, with Britain’s Defense Ministry suggesting a significant minority of non-combat related deaths have been caused by drink.

“While Russia has suffered up to 200,000 casualties since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a significant minority of these have been due to non-combat causes,” the U.K. said Sunday, noting that a Russian Telegram news channel recently reported there have been “‘extremely high” numbers of incidents, crimes, and deaths linked to alcohol consumption among the deployed Russian forces. 

“Other leading causes of non-combat casualties likely include poor weapon handing drills, road traffic accidents and climatic injuries such as hypothermia,” the ministry said.

Reservists drafted during the partial mobilization at a departure ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Sept. 27, 2022.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

While it’s likely that Russian commanders identify pervasive alcohol abuse as “particularly detrimental to combat effectiveness,” the ministry noted it’s difficult for Russia’s military leaders to curb drinking among their units.

“With heavy drinking pervasive across much of Russian society, it has long been seen as a tacitly accepted part of military life, even on combat operations.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia puts woman media name as suspect in war blogger’s killing on wanted list, Interfax reports

Russia’s interior ministry on Monday placed a woman Russian media have described as a suspect in the killing of war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky on its wanted list, the Interfax news agency reported.

Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed in a bomb blast at a cafe in St Petersburg on Sunday.

Russian police investigators inspect the damage at the ‘Street bar’ cafe in St Petersburg following an explosion there on April 2, 2023.

Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images

A woman called Darya Trepova was identified by some Russian media as a suspect online, though the interior ministry made no reference to the Tatarsky killing on its site which showed she had been put on its wanted list.

Fomin, who had 560,000 followers on the messaging app Telegram, was one of the most prominent of Russia’s war bloggers – a mixed group of war veterans and correspondents who have championed Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, while also offering stinging criticism of the Russian military leadership.

— Reuters

Russian military blogger’s death investigated as a ‘high-profile murder’

The death of Russian pro-war military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in an explosion in a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday evening is being investigated as a “high-profile murder,” Russia’s investigative committee said Sunday.

Russia’s Health Ministry said 30 people had been injured as a result of the blast, with 24 people sent to hospital, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

A leading Russian military blogger was killed on April 2, 2023, in an explosion at a cafe in St. Petersburg, the interior ministry said. “One person was killed in the incident. He was military correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky,” the ministry said on Telegram.

Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images

Tatarsky was a prominent pro-war blogger and, unlike most others, he had also fought in Ukraine and had commented extensively on the war and Russia’s military strategy. He had been a guest speaker at the cafe in St. Petersburg when the explosion took place. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, had been given a statue in a box that had later exploded.

It’s unclear who was responsible for the attack on Sunday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova slammed the West for not condemning the attack, stating on Telegram that when it came to any case relating to the “violent death of a Russian journalist … not only did they not conduct investigations, but they did not even show elementary human sympathy.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Wagner mercenary chief claims Russian flag has been raised over Bakhmut town hall

The head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries fighting in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine said Monday that his units had technically captured the town that has been the epicenter of fighting in Donetsk for months.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner private military company, posted a video on his Telegram channel saying the flag had a tribute on it to the Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who died in an explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe on Sunday evening.

“We hoisted the Russian flag with the inscription “Good memory to Vladlen Tatarsky” and the flag of PMC “Wagner” on the city administration of Bakhmut. Legally, Bakhmut is taken,” Prigozhin said in comments posted on Telegram Sunday evening. He noted, however, that Ukrainian units remained in western districts of the town.

“Legally, Bakhmut is taken,” Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner private military company, said in comments posted on Telegram Sunday evening.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

CNBC was unable to verify the claims but Ukraine’s military has not conceded defeat in Bakhmut, a town that has been fought over for over seven months now.

On Monday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian units were relentlessly assaulting Bakhmut “trying to take it under complete control,” but that its soldiers had “repelled more than 20 enemy attacks.”

Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar posted on Facebook Sunday evening that the “the situation in Bakhmut remains very tense,” adding that “our defenders have to stop the advance of the enemy in difficult conditions.”

Maliar said “excessively high losses of personnel” wasn’t deterring Russian forces. Both Ukraine and Russia claim to have inflicted significant losses upon each other during months of fighting around Bakhmut, leaving much of the town in ruins.

— Holly Ellyatt

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