A blast in St. Petersburg on Sunday killed a military blogger who supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian authorities reported.
Russia’s Interior Ministry said Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, died in the explosion at a cafe where he was a guest speaker at an event, according to BBC News.
“The makeshift explosive device that went off in a St. Petersburg cafe was stuffed with striking elements. The target was war correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky,” a spokesperson for law enforcement agencies told Russian state news service TASS.
The spokesperson reportedly added that the explosive device was about the size of a soap bar and was hidden in a figurine presented to Tatarsky. The TASS report noted that preliminary data show the device had a yield of more than 200 grams of TNT and went off near the stage where Tatarsky was holding an event.
Upwards of a dozen or more other people were reported to have been wounded and hospitalized, though the exact number appears to vary based on the source.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blast.
Video posted to social media shared by Russian state media outlets appeared to show the explosion from a distance, blowing out the windows of a building, and images from the aftermath.
A pro-Russian group called Cyber Front Z posted to Telegram to say it had reserved space at the cafe, Street Food Bar No. 1, for the evening, Agency France-Presse reported.
“There was a terrorist attack. We took certain security measures but unfortunately they were not enough,” the group said. “Condolences to everyone who knew the excellent war correspondent and our friend Vladlen Tatarsky.”
The New York Times reported that Tatarsky, 40, had amassed more than 550,000 followers on the Telegram messaging app. He is from Makiivka, which is near Donetsk, a region in Ukraine that Russia claimed to have annexed last year.
Bloomberg News reported that Tatarsky was at the Kremlin ceremony to announce the annexation of Donetsk along with three other occupied Ukraine regions in September.
“We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will rob everyone who needs to be robbed,” Tatarsky said in a video at the time. “Everything will be the way we like it.”
Russia began what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in an ongoing conflict that has led to tens of thousands of deaths and displaced millions of people.