Who was Vladlen Tatarsky, the blogger killed in St. Petersburg?
Russian war correspondent Maksim Fomin – better known under the pen name Vladlen Tatarsky – was killed in a suspected IED explosion in a café in downtown St. Petersburg on Sunday afternoon. Some 32 other people were injured in the blast in the ‘Street Bar,’ according to Russian officials.
Tatarsky rose to prominence as a military blogger after Russia launched its operation in Ukraine last February. He had over 560,000 followers on Telegram alone, where he provided daily reports and in-depth analysis of the latest battlefield developments.
He was born on April 25, 1982, in the city of Makeevka in Donetsk Region of the Soviet Union. In 1999, he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and began working at a mine. Later, he started his own business and took several bank loans to expand it, according to the Russian media. However, his company went bankrupt, and in 2011 he along with several friends decided to rob a bank. He was convicted and sent to a jail in Gorlovka in then-Ukrainian Donetsk Region.
In 2014, in the wake of the Western-backed Maidan coup in Ukraine, his prison came under fire. Tatarsky managed to escape and joined up with a Donetsk militia, which had opposed the coup in Kiev, serving at various times in two units of the militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). He also served in the intelligence service of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).
In 2020, Tatarsky reportedly moved to Moscow but returned to Donbass soon after the beginning of the Russian military campaign and rejoined one of the battalions in which he had previously served to fight against Kiev’s forces.
Tatarsky authored three books, including the autobiographical novel ‘Running’, which was published in 2021.
On Sunday, Tatarsky, who over the course of the conflict had managed to become one of Russia’s most popular military bloggers, was hosting a live event for his supporters at the St. Petersburg café. Kirill Makarov, the youth policy minister of the DRP, told Russian media that Tatarsky may have been killed by an improvised explosive device disguised as a statuette.
According to several Russian media outlets, a young woman had presented a figurine to the war correspondent during the event.