The Russian partisans who claim to have masterminded the assassination of pro-Putin blogger Vladlen Tatarsky have told the Express they wanted to send a clear message to Kremlin elites that they are no longer safe. The National Republican Army (NRA) claimed responsibility for the attack at the Street Food Bar #1 Cafe, formerly owned by the Wagner military boss Yevgeny Priogozhin. The bombing on Sunday left at least 32 people injured, with 24 taken to hospital. Ten are said to be in a serious condition.
Russian authorities arrested Darya Trepkova, 26, in connection with the attack on Monday and have now charged her with terrorism.
The NRA previously claimed responsibility for the car bombing that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of the far-right Russian political philosopher Alexander Dugin, in August of last year.
Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian politician and anti-Putin activist, acts as a spokesman and representative of the partisan group.
He told Express.co.uk that he had prior knowledge about the attack and said there had been expectations that the Wagner boss Prigozhin would also be in attendance at the event. Express.co.uk was unable to verify his claims.
Mr Ponomarev explained that the partisans wanted to make it clear to Kremlin elites who are propping up Putin’s regime, that they could no longer escape the consequences of their actions.
He said: “The audience is the elites: ‘beware, you are not safe anymore, Putin is not able to protect you, we are everywhere’.”
The former Russian MP, who now lives in Kyiv, added: “The partisans are resisting the current political system in Russia and want it to be removed.
“They cannot join the fighting in the military, but they are holding the front inside Russia.”
In their statement, the Saint Petersburg NRA section said they “organised and carried out” the attack on the “war criminal” Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin.
They insisted they had acted “autonomously” and without any help from foreign intelligence services.
The partisans ended their statement by calling on their fellow Russians to resist Putin and his regime.
They wrote: “We urge the citizens of Russia to follow our example and to show all kinds of resistance to the criminal Russian regime up to its complete destruction.
“Criminals will not feel safe on Russian soil! Russia will be free!”
Russia‘s Investigative Committee said Trepova had been acting under instructions from people working on behalf of Ukraine and had charged her with committing “a terrorist act by an organised group that caused intentional death”.
However, the partisans said that the 26-year-old was an innocent victim of Russia‘s brutal security services.
They said: “Russian security forces act in their traditional style – accusing and arresting those they can reach, regardless of their involvement, as has happened with Darya Trepova.
“Darya Trepova, a well-known figure in the left and feminist movement, is a hero.
“At a time when many “oppositionists” were posting and lighting flashlights on Facebook, she fought, went to rallies and risked her freedom to participate in all opposition movements that now disown her.
“We ask Russian human rights activists to help Darya Trepova and other innocent people who fall into the paws of Putin’s ‘oprichniki’ (police and security officials).”
Tatarsky was originally a coal miner from eastern Ukraine and was convicted of bank robbery.
He was in prison when Russian proxy militias launched their war against Ukraine‘s government in 2014.
Tatarsky said he fled custody and joined the Russian-backed forces, before later becoming a blogger and moving to Moscow.
He was also highly critical of Russia‘s top military leaders, and had aligned with other critics, such as Prigozhin.