Russian officials and propagandists were quick to accuse Ukraine of killing "war correspondent" (military blogger) Vladlen Tatarsky (real name: Maxim Fomin), although forces inside Russia may have been involved in his murder, state analysts at the Institute for the Study of War.
Source: ISW report
Details: Analysts cite the words of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner PMC, who said that he would not blame the "Kyiv regime" for the deaths of Vladlen Tatarsky and Alexander Dugin's daughter Daria, who were killed in an explosion near Moscow in August.
"Fomin’s assassination at Prigozhin’s bar is likely part of a larger pattern of escalating internal Russian conflicts involving Prigozhin and Wagner," the report reads.
ISW states that "Fomin’s assassination may have been intended as a warning to Prigozhin, who has been increasingly questioning core Kremlin talking points about the war in Ukraine and even obliquely signalling an interest in the Russian presidency, whether in competition with Putin or as his successor."
The ISW also believes that the Russian authorities are likely to use Fomin's murder to increase self-censorship among Russian civil society representatives who question Russia's success in the war in Ukraine.
"The assassination is already deepening a divide within the Russian milblogger space, which may ultimately be beneficial to the Kremlin’s efforts to consolidate control of the information space," the ISW states.
- On 2 April, an explosion occurred in a cafe in the centre of St Petersburg that had previously belonged to Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner Group Private Military Company, killing "war correspondent" (military blogger) Vladlen Tatarsky and injuring 30 other people.
- Russian media outlet Interfax reported that Russian security forces had detained Daria Trepova, a resident of St Petersburg, on suspicion of murdering propagandist Vladlen Tatarsky.
- However, the Fontanka news agency states that the suspect is still being searched for.