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03/04/2023 | Bomb hidden inside decorative figurine kills pro-Kremlin military blogger in Russia

Joseph Fitsanakis

A POWERFUL EXPLOSION, LIKELY caused by a bomb hidden inside a decorative figurine, has killed one of the most prominent pro-Kremlin bloggers as he was giving a public talk in downtown St. Petersburgh, Russia.

 

The bomb killed Maxim Fomin, 40, who was known in online blogger circles under the pseudonym Vladlen Tatarsky. Born in eastern Ukraine, Fomin supported the pro-Russian secessionist movement in the Donbas. By 2021, when he obtained Russian citizenship, he had already made a name for himself as a pro-Kremlin military blogger on the Telegram social media platform.

In 2022, when the Russian military invaded Ukraine again, Fomin used his Telegram channel to spread pro-Kremlin information among his nearly 600,000 followers. He quickly rose to prominence as a commentator on military matters on Russian state-owned television. He also authored several books espousing Russian nationalist views. Fomin’s online activism came to embody a new generation of Russian bloggers who use their reach among Russian Internet users to aggressively promote pro-Kremlin political views.

On Sunday afternoon, Fomin was the main speaker at a pro-Kremlin event held in a St. Petersburg meeting hall, which is known as the Street Food Bar #1 Café. The downtown establishment used to belong to Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest collaborators. Prigozhin is the alleged owner of the Wagner Group private military company. In 2019, Prigozhin is believed to have donated the property to a group of pro-Kremlin activists, who have since been using it to host nationalist meetings in downtown St. Petersburg.

On Sunday afternoon, Fomin was the main speaker at an event held in the Street Food Bar #1 Café. The event had been organized by Cyber Front Z, an umbrella group of Russian nationalist bloggers, who refer to themselves on Telegram as a pro-Kremlin cyber army. At least 100 people were present at the event, according to reports. Shortly before the event began, an unknown woman tried to enter the facility carrying a large box. She told the event organizers at the entrance that the box contained a figurine, which she intended to present to Fomin as a gift.

According to some reports, the event organizers attempted to prevent the woman from entering the venue with the box, for security reasons. However, Fomin himself gave the woman permission to enter the facility with the box. A few moments later, one of the event organizers presented Fomin with the figurine, which appeared to be the bust of a helmeted soldier that allegedly resembled Fomin. Minutes later, an explosion killed Fomin and injured at least 30 people inside the Street Food Bar #1 Café, most of whom were transported to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment. Subsequent footage from inside the meeting facility appeared to show extensive damage caused by the bombing.

The culprit of the attack remains unknown. Some Russian officials hinted that the Ukrainian government was behind Fomin’s killing. However, the Kremlin has not made an official statement regarding the incident. Fomin’s assassination appears to be the most high-profile attack on a pro-Kremlin advocate inside Russia since August of 2022, when a bomb planted inside a car killed Daria Dugina, as she was driving in a Moscow suburb. Dugina was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian philosopher, who has been described as the ideological architect of President Putin’s nationalist foreign policy.

Intelnews.org (Estados Unidos)

 



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