Russia on Monday claimed that the killing of military correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky by a cafe blast in the city of St. Petersburg on Sunday was “planned” by Ukraine’s special services.
"This is a terrorist act, we have seen the statement of the NAK (National Anti-Terrorism Committee). Now the active phase of the investigation is underway, we see quite vigorous steps to detain the suspects. In any case, let's be patient and wait for the statements of our special services that work there,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed in a press briefing.
In response to a question on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed about the topic, Peskov said Putin was immediately made aware.
"We wish a speedy recovery to those who suffered as a result of this terrorist attack and, of course, we condole with the families and friends of (Maxim) Fomin, who died as a result of this terrorist attack," he added.
Earlier in the day, the NAK claimed that the blast that killed Tatarsky was “planned” by Ukraine’s special services.
“The terrorist act committed on April 2 in St. Petersburg against the well-known journalist Vladlen Tatarsky was planned by the special services of Ukraine with the involvement of agents from among persons collaborating with the so-called Navalny Anti-Corruption Fund, of which the detained (Daria) Trepova is an active supporter,” a statement by the NAK read on Russian social network VK.
Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said he believes that Russian citizens should report cases of Ukrainian financing in Russia to the special services.
"If someone said in front of you that he receives money or work from Ukrainian sources – with the highest probability that someone has embarked on the path of betrayal – and he has already committed a criminal offense, he is an enemy and it is necessary to report him to the special services or law enforcement agencies," Medvedev said, according to his assistant Oleg Osipov, RIA news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later commented on the blast, saying Russian journalists are constantly facing threats of violence from Ukraine and the West.
Also read: Russia Security Council presidency a 'slap in the face': Ukraine FM
“Journalists are harassed, branded with special markings on the digital platforms of US internet monopolies, and ostracized by the Western media. All of this is being tacitly ignored by the related international organizations, whose behavior can no longer be interpreted as anything other than pandering, if not complicity,” Zakharova claimed.
Claiming that none have shown “any compassion” or have acted once to investigate the death of a Russian journalist, Zakharova said the “unconcealed jubilation” among those financed by the West on Tatarsky’s death is “astonishing.”
“Thanks to Russian war correspondents that the world sees truthful and promptly delivered footage and gets news about the latest developments in Ukraine. These people safeguard the truth that the world's mainstream media have abused. The Kyiv regime hated Vladlen Tatarsky’s professional work and service to his homeland. They saw him as a danger, but he did his duty and was true to his courageous self until the end,” she said.
Meanwhile, according to the press service of the Russian Health Ministry, the number of those injured by the cafe blast rose to 32.
The condition of 10 people are considered to be serious and injuries of 16 people were assessed to be moderate, while the condition of five people was deemed satisfactory, with another person being treated on an outpatient basis, the statement said.
The Russian Investigative Committee announced it opened a criminal case about the explosion, with a later statement on Telegram saying its personnel detained Trepova on suspicion of being involved in the explosion.
Ukrainian authorities are yet to respond to the claims.
One of the most influential military bloggers in Russia, Tatarsky had more than 560,000 followers on Telegram.