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Russian cafe bomb suspect remanded in custody

MOSCOW  — A Moscow court yesterday ordered that Darya Trepova, the suspect in the fatal bomb attack on a high-profile military blogger, be held in custody for at least two months.

The 26-year-old woman was detained after an explosion ripped through a cafe in Russia’s second city Saint Petersburg at the weekend, killing Vladlen Tatarsky, a high-profile supporter of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, and wounding dozens.

After investigators charged Trepova with terrorism, Moscow’s Basmanny district court ruled that she should remain in custody until June 2.

Video footage showed the young woman looking grim in the courtroom.

Earlier in the day the Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Trepova acted on orders from “figures based in Ukraine” and committed a “terror attack by an organised group.”

The statement said she had brought a statuette rigged with explosives to a cafe located along the Neva River not far from the historic city centre and handed it over to the blogger, whose real name was Maxim Fomin.

It is not clear if Trepova knew about the contents of the figurine, and there are few public details about her role in the bombing attack.

On Monday, the Investigative Committee and the National Anti-terrorism Committee both claimed that supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny helped Ukraine carry out the attack on the military blogger, who had more than half a million followers on social media.

Political observers said the bombing attack could be used to justify a further crackdown on critics of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

‘Rabid dogs’

In a chilling post on messaging app Telegram, former president Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday accused Russia’s embattled opposition of “waging a war” against ordinary Russians and “executing their compatriots”.

“Terrorists” should be “exterminated like rabid dogs”, added Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council.

Ivan Zhdanov, a top Navalny ally, said he believed that members of the domestic security service, the FSB, were behind the murder of the military blogger.

Ukraine has blamed Russian regime opponents for the blast.

In a video, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said he had arrived in Saint Petersburg from the frontline hotspot of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine to “honour” the memory of Tatarsky.

“Vladlen Tatarsky tried to consolidate society to fight the external enemy,” said Prigozhin at the cafe’s bombed-out premises, referring to Ukraine and Nato.

He blamed top city officials including the governor for not appearing at the scene and being unable to mobilise young people for the fight against “evil”.

Prigozhin also met with members of an ultra-nationalist group dubbed Cyber Front Z, pledging support. He says he used to own the cafe but handed it over to Cyber Front Z. — AFP

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