A young woman has been detained by Russian law enforcement on suspicion of bombing a St. Petersburg cafe, in which a pro-Kremlin military blogger was killed and 25 others were injured. The woman said she had brought a statuette inside the cafe that later exploded, but media reports suggest that this statement may have been made under duress. She was reportedly detained for several days last year for taking part in a protest against the war in Ukraine on the day Russia’s full-scale invasion started.
The bombing has been labelled a terrorist act by the state-controlled Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee, which accused Ukraine’s special service of planning the attack. This claim has been met with condemnation, with one Ukrainian adviser tweeting that Russia had returned to Soviet classics of isolation, espionage and political repression. This is the second time a pro-Kremlin media figure has been killed on Russian soil since the invasion began.
The deceased military blogger in this case was part of a group of high-profile influencers filing reports on the Ukraine war, and had more than half a million followers on Telegram. He had been an advocate of Russia’s war in Ukraine under the pseudonym Maxim Fomin. Russia’s top investigative body has launched an inquiry into the bombing, calling it a ‘high-profile murder’. The bombing has highlighted Russia’s ongoing problems with terrorism and the difficulty faced by law enforcement and intelligence agencies in identifying and anticipating these incidents.
The motivation for the act remains unclear, but it has been suggested that it may have been carried out in response to Fomin’s pro-war rhetoric or in relation to his project of collecting data on the dead and missing in the war. Several regional groups have been rumoured to be behind the attack, but this information should be treated with caution until an official statement is made by the Russian government.