By Press Association
April 8, 2023, 3:37 p.m.
Hundreds of supporters including Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of mercenary outfit Wagner, turned out Saturday for the funeral of a high-profile Russian military blogger killed in a bombing attack.
Last week an explosion ripped through a cafe in Russia’s second city Saint Petersburg, killing 40-year-old Vladlen Tatarsky, who was known for his staunch anti-Ukraine stance.
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.”
Mourners, some carrying flowers, gathered at the prestigious Troyekurovskoye cemetery in western Moscow amid beefed-up police presence.
Some supporters sported on their clothes the letters Z and V — symbols of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine.
Carrying lighted candles, priests in white robes led a funeral service at the cemetery. Tatarsky’s awards were placed on velvet cushions near his casket. Among them was the Order of Courage, one of the country’s top awards that President Vladimir Putin posthumously bestowed on Tatarsky for his “bravery.”
Tatarsky, who hailed from the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, fought alongside pro-Kremlin separatists and then became a popular blogger with half a million followers on social media.
In a statement released by his spokespeople, Prigozhin, whose ragtag 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 added.
Russian authorities claim without any evidence that supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny helped Ukrainian authorities carry out the bombing attack. A 26-year-old Russian woman, Darya Trepova, was detained and charged with terrorism.
Investigators say Trepova had brought a statuette rigged with explosives to a cafe in Saint Petersburg and handed it over to the blogger, whose real name was Maxim Fomin.
The attack came after Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent ultranationalist intellectual, was last August killed in a car bombing outside Moscow that Russia also blames on Ukraine.