Russian ‘assassin’ who killed Putin blogger ‘told FSB thugs during interrogation she was told to give statue to target for a ”job in journalism”… but DIDN’T know it was a bomb’, media reports claim
- Daria Trepova reportedly believed she was being tested for a Ukrainian news job
- Reports cited leaked transcripts of Trepova’s interrogation by the Russian FSB
A Russian woman who killed a Kremlin propagandist in a bomb attack told FSB thugs interrogating her after she was arrested that she thought she was auditioning for a job in journalism in Ukraine, Russian media have claimed.
Daria Trepova, 26, reportedly believed she was on a ‘propaganda resistance’ test for a Ukrainian media outlet when she handed pro-Putin blogger Vladlen Tatarsky a small statue laced with explosives that blew him to pieces, Russian news outlet Fontanka reported.
Fontanka cited leaked transcripts of Trepova’s interrogation by Russian FSB security officials.
Trepova has since been charged with committing ‘a terrorist act by an organised group that caused intentional death’. Following the blast, she was detained by police and escorted to Moscow from St Petersburg under armed guard.
On Tuesday, Trepova was hauled into a closed-door hearing at a Russian court and ordered to remain in custody for two months pending an investigation. She could face up to 20 years in prison.
Daria Trepova is escorted inside a court building before a hearing in Moscow, Russia, April 4, 2023
Vladlen Tatarsky, 40, is seen moments before the explosion with the small statue at a St Petersburg café
Daria Trepova sits behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, April 4, 2023
Knowing nothing about the explosives, Trepova said she was offered a job as an editor at a Ukrainian media platform but was told she first had to complete a form of internship by carrying out a series of tasks.
Trepova was told her first task was to see Vladlen Tatarsky speak at one of his events and become acquainted with the pro-Kremlin blogger and staunch supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Fontanka reported that she was given a ‘secret item’ by a Moscow taxi driver – who also was said to have no knowledge of what they were doing.
Reports said the statue laced with explosives was ordered through the Telegram messaging app and was delivered anonymously to an intermediary.
Trepova then received her next task which was to meet up with Tatarsky again and give him the package.
Reports even said a ticket was purchased from Pulkovo international airport in St Petersburg to Uzbekistan as part of her safe travel to Ukraine.
The blast took place when the Kremlin propagandist had been speaking at a political event at the Street Food No. 1 café in St Petersburg when the bomb exploded next to him, killing him and injuring 32 others.
Russian authorities described the bombing as an act of terrorism and blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating it.
Daria Trepova (pictured at court) has been charged with terrorism over the blast that killed Russian blogger Vladlen Tatarsky
Trepova, 26, was kept in a glass cage during her court hearing in Moscow this afternoon
The anti-war Russian woman attracted a lot of attention as she walked into the Basmanny District Court with her hood up
Russian police guard the glass cage that Trepova was being held in, while photographers trying to take pictures can be seen in the reflection
Police arrested Trepova, who was seen on video moments before the blast presenting Tatarsky with a statuette that is believed to have contained explosives.
Russia’s Interior Ministry released a video in which Trepova told a police officer that she brought the bust to the café. When asked who gave it to her, she said she would explain later. The circumstances under which Trepova spoke were unclear, including whether she was under duress.
The Kremlin’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee, which coordinates counterterrorism operations, claimed the bombing was ‘planned by Ukrainian special services.’ They did not provide any evidence to back up this claim.
The committee added that Trepova was an ‘active supporter’ of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Last year, she was arrested and spent 10 days in custody after taking part in an anti-war rally.
Ukrainian authorities did not directly respond to Russia’s accusations, but President Volodymyr Zelensky said in reference to the attack that he doesn’t think about events in Russia, and his top adviser said the bombing as part of Russia’s internal turmoil.
While Trepova was arrested in St Petersburg, her case was sent to Moscow, where the country’s top investigative agencies are headquartered, an apparent reflection of its high priority.
In a closed-door hearing, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court ordered Trepova to remain in custody until June 2 pending the investigation. Russian law suggests a life sentence for terrorism-related crimes, but life terms aren’t handed down to women, who instead face sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
Investigators have charged Trepova (left) with terrorism over the bomb that killed Tatarsky (right)
Video footage showed the handcuffed bomb suspect being escorted through Moscow airport
‘Statue assassin’ Trepova (pictured) has been told she faces up to 20 years in jail after being charged today
According to Russian media reports, Trepova told investigators she was asked to deliver the bust but didn’t know what was inside it.
The bombing injured 40 other people, 25 of whom have been hospitalised. It was the latest attack inside Russia on a high-profile pro-war figure. Last year, a nationalist TV commentator was assassinated when a bomb exploded in her SUV outside Moscow.
READ MORE: Who was Vladlen Tatarsky and who is his charged ‘statue assassin’ Daria Trepova?
Tatarsky was the pen name of Maxim Fomin, who had accumulated more than 560,000 followers on his Telegram messaging app channel. Tatarsky, who joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed insurgency erupted there in 2014, fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging.
Military bloggers have become increasingly visible in Russia, supporting the war but occasionally exposing flaws in military strategy while the Kremlin has shut down independent media outlets and muzzled any criticism of the war.
It comes after Trepova was on Monday filmed with her hands chained to a radiator while being interrogated by Russian investigators yesterday.
Speaking for the first time since the bomb, she admitted to carrying the statue laden with explosives but pleaded her innocence by claiming she was ‘set up’ and did not known what was in the bust.
Head of the Wagner private army Yevgeny Prigozhin visited the bombed café – which he owns – earlier today, where he was filmed speaking to a group of people.
He had handed the café over to a patriotic group for meetings.
According to Russian media reports, police tracked Trepova down using surveillance cameras, though she reportedly cut her long blonde hair short to change her look and rented a different apartment in an apparent attempt to escape.
In the interrogation video, Trepova said she understood why she has been detained.
When asked why, she said: ‘For… I’d put it this way, for being at the assassination site of Vladlen Tatarsky.’
‘I brought the statuette there that exploded,’ Trepova said. When asked who gave her the statuette, she replied that she would say ‘later’.
Head of the Wagner private army Yevgeny Prigozhin visited the bombed café – which he owns – earlier today
Chilling video appeared to show Trepova, a St Petersburg resident who has previously been detained for taking part in anti-war rallies, walking into the café carrying a box containing what may have been statuette containing 450g of TNT – just minutes before it exploded.
The Russian Interior Ministry put Trepova on Russia’s wanted list on suspicion of murdering Tatarsky after she fled from the scene – but she was arrested within hours of the warrant being released.
Trepova’s partner, Dmitry Rylov – also in his 20s and a member of the so-called Russian Liberation Army – has insisted that she had been ‘set up’ too.
Wagner chief Prigozhin has previously declared that he does not believe Ukrainian forces were behind the attack.
‘It is indeed similar to the murder of Darya Dugina [daughter of a Putin ideologue who was killed aged 29 last year in a car explosion],’ he said.
‘I would not blame the Kyiv regime for it.
‘I think it was a group of [Ukrainian] Right-wing radicals who did it, which is unlikely to be linked to the government.’
An image shows Daria Trepova when she was put on Russia’s wanted list as published by the Interior Ministry. She has since been arrested and charged
Tatarsky was killed in a blast at the Street Food No. 1 cafe, located in the St Petersburg city centre, on Sunday
It comes after the millionaire Wagner leader claimed that Russia had taken control of Bakhmut – an eastern city which Moscow had spent months trying to capture.
He spoke on camera, holding aloft a Russian flag which was inscribed with Tatarsky’s name on it in a tribute.
Russian investigators also said they had identified a second female suspect, Maria Yaran, 40, as being involved in the blast. She is reportedly in hospital in St Petersburg following the bombing.
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