Are we seeing a dangerous escalation in the Ukraine-Russian military conflict?
St. Petersburg was rocked by a powerful blast that injured at least 19 people in a café in the city centre. The explosion, believed to have been caused by an improvised explosive device (IED), also claimed the life of a prominent Russian military blogger.
Vladlen Tatarsky (real name Maxim Fomin) was a vocal supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
He was a guest speaker at an event hosted by the cafe when the bomb went off.
Videos posted on social media show an explosion and injured people on the street. It is not clear who was responsible for the blast.
A group called Cyber Front Z, calling itself “Russia’s information troops” on Telegram, said it had hired out the cafe for the evening.
Tatarsky’s following on Telegram numbers more than 500,000. He and other military bloggers have criticised aspects of the Russian campaign in Ukraine.
“There was a terrorist attack. We took certain security measures but unfortunately they were not enough,” its post on Telegram said. “Condolences to everyone who knew the excellent war correspondent and our friend Vladlen Tatarsky,” it said.
Tatarsky joined the Donbas militias back in 2014 in the wake of the Maidan coup in Kyiv. He has since become known in Russia as a blogger and a correspondent reporting on the situation in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Tatarsky has also authored several books.
According to reports, the blogger was a well-known figure in Russian military circles, and his posts on social media platforms often attracted a significant following.
Last August a car bomb attack near Moscow killed Darya Dugina, a journalist and prominent supporter of the Russian military. She was the daughter of ultra-nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, a close ally of Mr Putin.
Russian authorities have now launched an investigation into the blast, with the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) stating that it is treating the incident as a terrorist attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, but some experts have suggested that it could be linked to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.