Hundreds of Russians attend war-blogger Vladlen Tatarsky funeral
Tatarsky was killed on Sunday after a woman handed him a statuette that later exploded in a cafe, wounding more than 40 people.
Hundreds gathered for the funeral of high-profile Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in Moscow after he was killed in a bomb attack in Saint Petersburg.
Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed on Sunday after a woman handed him a bust that later exploded in a cafe, wounding more than 40 people.
Russian authorities say the attack was orchestrated by Ukraine with help from supporters of jailed critic Alexey Navalny. Kyiv has blamed it on Russia’s domestic infighting.
Mourners, some carrying flowers, gathered at the prestigious Troyekurovskoye cemetery in western Moscow with a heightened police presence.
Some supporters wore the letters Z and V – symbols of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine – on their clothes. Carrying lit candles, priests in white robes led a funeral service at the cemetery.
Tatarsky’s awards were placed on velvet cushions near his coffin.
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from the funeral in the capital, said the event was taking place under heavy security.
“It took us quite a long time to get into the grounds of the cemetery and we’re still not allowed to go inside due to security concerns,” she said.
“Metal detectors have been erected at the entrance and we went through a very thorough security check.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the mercenary Wagner Group was also present at the funeral, Jabbari reported.
“He laid an axe of some kind, we believe on top of the coffin, when he paid his respects. He was the first person to do so before the crowds were allowed in.”
The cafe where Tatarsky was killed was owned by Prigozhin.
In a statement released by his spokespeople, Prigozhin – whose forces are leading the assault for towns in eastern Ukraine – praised the blogger for helping “destroy the enemy”.
“He is a soldier who stays with us, whose voice will always live and speak only the truth,” Prigozhin said.
Russian investigators have charged Darya Trepova, a 26-year-old St Petersburg resident, with “terrorist offences” over the bombing.
While Trepova was arrested in St Petersburg, her case was sent to Moscow where the country’s top investigative agencies are based – an apparent reflection of its high priority.
‘We will defeat everyone’
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin bestowed the highest Order of Courage on Tatarsky, who was a strong supporter of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
He publicly demanded Russia pursue the war even more aggressively and he had more than 500,000 followers on the Telegram messaging app.
Tatarsky, who joined separatists in eastern Ukraine after a Moscow-backed rebellion erupted there in 2014, fought on the front lines for years before turning to blogging.
At a Kremlin ceremony announcing the annexation of four Ukrainian regions last September, Tatarsky recorded himself saying: “We will defeat everyone. We will kill everyone. We will rob everyone as necessary. Just as we like it.”
Putin on Wednesday accused Western security services of having helped Kyiv stage “terror attacks” in Russia.
The attack on Tatarsky came after Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent ultranationalist intellectual, was killed last year in a car bombing outside Moscow, which Russia also blamed on Ukraine.