Russian war correspondent killed in blast in St. Petersburg

Vladlen Tatarsky // official page in Vkontakte

Military reporter Vladlen Tatarsky (real name Maxim Fomin) was killed on Sunday in a bomb blast at a cafe in St Petersburg. This was reported by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS 23 people were injured in the attack, and four were hospitalized in serious condition. Law enforcement authorities have opened a criminal case under the article on murder, but the case may be reclassified under the article on terrorist attacks.

The explosive device went off in a cafe Street Food Bar №1 at 25 Universitetskaya Embankment on Vasilevsky Island in central St. Petersburg on the afternoon of Sunday 2 April. The venue was hosting a creative evening for Tatarsky. The device had a yield of more than 200g of TNT equivalent. Russian media report that approximately 100 people attended the creative evening. A patriotic discussion club, Cyber Z Front, was meeting on the weekend at the cafe where the explosion took place.

Tatarsky was on stage at the time of the explosion. According to preliminary reports, the bomb was concealed in a statuette given to Tatarsky by a girl, the agency was told by law enforcement agencies. It is alleged that the girl introduced herself as an artist and handed him the bust. Tatarsky placed it next to him, after which an explosion was heard. REN-TV channel has released a video showing the moment the statuette was handed over.

According to some sources, the girl was a stranger to Tatarsky and had fled the cafe before the explosion. Other sources say Tatarsky knew her.

Maxim Fomin is a native of Donbas who lived in Makeyevka. In 2011, he robbed a bank together with his accomplices, but he was quickly identified and jailed. When the war in the Donbass began in 2014, he managed to escape during the turmoil and joined the pro-Russian militia, where he was known by the call sign Professor and fought under field commander Igor Bezler. He soon joined the Vityaz unit and then joined the reconnaissance company of the fourth brigade of the so-called Luhansk People’s Militia. He fought in the “Vostok” battalion for a year, and in 2017 was assigned to the battalion’s reconnaissance.

The pseudonym is taken after Babylen Tatarsky, the hero of Victor Pelevin’s work. In 2020, he moved to Moscow and became a writer, publishing several autobiographical books: «Run», «War» and «Meditation». After the start of the war in Ukraine in 2022, Fomin returned to Donbass and joined the Vostok battalion. Together with a volunteer friend he operated drones, made calculations for UAVs. Vladlen Tatarsky actively maintained a telegram channel with the same name. His last post was written on Sunday at 4pm. He wrote about Ukraine’s preparations for an offensive. He reported almost daily on the events taking place on the front. Videos titled «Vecherny Vladlen» were published in various patriotic sub-publics, and the special correspondent’s reports from the battlefields gained thousands of views on the internet.

Tatarsky’s books were published by the far-right publishing house Black Hundred. Vladlen himself also expressed nationalist ideas and was very popular in the far-right milieu, but was not a member of any well-known far-right organizations.

The daughter of Russian far-right philosopher Alexander Dugin, Daria was killed on 20 August 2022 when her car was blown up on the Mozhaisk highway in the Moscow region. The Russian FSB reported that Ukrainian citizen Natalia Vovk and her daughter Sofia Shaban, who had traveled to Estonia after the murder, were involved in the crime.