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The Kremlin didn’t waste time blaming Ukraine for orchestrating the weekend bombing of a cafe in St. Petersburg, leaving what they claimed was 40 injured and high-profile ultranationalist military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky dead.
And Ukrainian officials were no less firm batting away the charge.
They blamed an “internal political fight” for the blast just a mile from where Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife lives in the historic heart of the Russian president’s hometown.
“Spiders are eating each other in a jar,” tweeted Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
Who should one believe?
“Every day in Russia, it’s a thriller series,” noted Ksenia Sobchak on her Telegram channel. The former Russian presidential candidate and self-exiled daughter of Putin’s onetime patron, Anatoly Sobchak, St. Petersburg’s first post-Soviet mayor, understands better than most that things are seldom as they seem in Putin’s Russia — if ever.
As in any good thriller, the assassination of Tatarsky boasts a cast of colorful characters, an enigmatic figure at the center, rollercoaster twists and turns, as well as distracting sub-plots delaying the denouement.
But in this whodunnit — as with so many in Russia — in the end we’re unlikely to discover the real identity of the murderer or their motives.
Like with the car bombing in August on the outskirts of Moscow of commentator Darya Dugina, daughter of Alexander Dugin, an ultranationalist ideologue, the list of possible perps is long. But that aside, little is certain or reliable — despite the wealth of CCTV footage that’s been released and the surprisingly quick arrest of a 26-year-old, Darya Trepova, until recently an assistant at a vintage clothing store.
She was seen giving Tatarsky a plaster figurine, which Russian investigators say was packed with TNT. In a video released by Russian authorities, Trepova is heard saying she “brought a statuette” inside the cafe, which “later exploded,” adding she would prefer to say later who asked her to give the blogger the gift. It is unclear whether Trepova was making her remarks under duress.
Last year, Trepova, who is married but separated from her husband according to two friends who spoke with POLITICO, was jailed for 10 days for protesting against Russia’s war on Ukraine. But for many reasons, she seems an unlikely bomber and was pictured leaving the cafe, Street Food Bar No 1 — once owned by Wagner paramilitary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and now run by his former son-in-law — as shocked and dazed as others caught in the blast.
Her friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing they could be ensnared in the anti-terrorist investigation, say they find it…