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3 Apr, 2023 13:36

Alleged mastermind behind killing of Vladlen Tatarsky revealed – media

A suspect in the case has said she was recruited by a journalist linked to Ukrainian intelligence
Alleged mastermind behind killing of Vladlen Tatarsky revealed – media

The main suspect in the murder of prominent Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, Darya Trepova, has admitted she was recruited by a man with ties to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), news outlet Shot claimed on Monday, citing sources. Tatarsky was killed on Sunday by a blast from an improvised explosive device.

The attack on Tatarsky was orchestrated by Roman Popkov, a former journalist with the MBKh Media outlet founded by exiled oligarch and staunch Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Trepova is reported to have said. According to the suspect, Popkov “taught her journalism” at first but then asked her to carry out a task for a “contact” of his. 

Shot claimed that Popkov’s contact was an SBU agent, although his identity has not been revealed. The Russian Interior Ministry published a video earlier on Monday in which Trepova admitted to bringing the bomb camouflaged as a statuette to Tatarsky’s meeting with his followers. In the footage, Trepova said she would “explain later” where she had obtained the figurine from.

According to Shot, Trepova brought the statuette to St. Petersburg in her car several days ago. She also claimed that her contacts tasked her with striking up a friendship with Tatarsky to later recruit him. She reportedly maintained that she was told the figurine contained a listening device.

Citing sources, other news outlets reported that Popkov is now working for exiled former State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomarev. Ponomarev, who currently resides in Ukraine, has repeatedly threatened to launch a terror campaign targeting Russian officials and anyone he deems to be supportive of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. The former deputy has also claimed to have ties to what he called a guerilla movement in Russia. 

Ponomarev previously alleged that this movement was behind the high-profile murder of another Russian journalist and public figure, Darya Dugina, who was killed in a car blast last year. Russian officials later claimed that Ukrainian agents were behind her murder.

Tatarsky, whose real name was Maksim Fomin, gained prominence in Russia as a military blogger after joining the Donbass militias in the wake of the Maidan coup in 2014. He served with local forces until 2019, and was placed on a blacklist by Kiev in January 2023.