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May 29, 2024

Russian woman sentenced to 27 years for blogger’s death

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Jan 25, 2024

Art student handed long prison term for bombing that killed pro-Putin propagandist

A Russian court has sentenced 26-year-old art student Daria Trepova to 27 years in prison for delivering a parcel bomb that killed pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in December 2021.

Trepova was found guilty of premeditated murder and illegally handling explosives. Russian prosecutors had asked the court to sentence her to 28 years in a strict-regime penal colony.

The high-profile case has underscored the deep divisions in Russian society over the war in Ukraine. While Tatarsky gained a wide following for his outspoken nationalist views supporting Russia’s invasion, Trepova has maintained her innocence and decried the country’s militarism.

Student insists she is ‘not a terrorist’

Speaking in court this week, Trepova continued to deny purposefully killing Tatarsky, saying she only intended to scare the blogger whom she blamed for “sending thousands of people to their deaths.”

“I’m not a terrorist, I’m not a murderer,” she told the judge. Nonetheless, the court determined that Trepova was directly responsible for Tatarsky’s death in the bombing of the Format cafe in St. Petersburg on December 3, 2021.

Prosecutors alleged that Trepova had stalked Tatarsky for months before placing the parcel bomb on his table while posing as an admirer wanting his autograph. The explosive device detonated moments later, killing the blogger. Authorities released CCTV footage of the bombing, which drew widespread media coverage.

War blogger gained notoriety for pro-invasion views

Vladlen Tatarsky first gained attention on social media in early 2022 for his incendiary Telegram posts urging harsh measures in Ukraine and vilifying Russians who opposed the invasion.

The former wedding photographer from St. Petersburg amassed over 100,000 followers in the months before his death by arguing the war was necessary to conquer Ukraine and punish those disloyal to President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“Tatarsky openly called for violence against anti-war activists, journalists, and Ukrainian civilians,” notes Moscow Times reporter Ilya Rozhdestvensky. “His war propaganda contributed to an increasingly militaristic climate in Russia.”

While revered by ultranationalists, the blogger received death threats from those who blamed him personally for encouraging Russia’s catastrophic war effort.

Sentencing seen as warning to anti-war voices

The court’s decision to impose one of the longest sentences ever for a political killing in Russia is widely viewed as a statement aimed at intimidating Putin’s critics.

With Russia suffering major losses in Ukraine, anti-war sentiments have grown – along with acts of protest and sabotage. Daria Trepova has become a cause célèbre for Russians opposing the invasion, despite her role in Tatarsky’s death.

“This draconian sentence serves to warn activists that the regime will crush any resistance,” observes Russian political scientist Svetlana Erpyleva. “It tells them: ‘Look what happens if you cross the line from protests we can live with into real defiance.'”

Supporters decry trial as ‘political’ amid signs of unrest

Backers of Trepova claim she did not receive a fair trial and that her sentence is disproportionate to her alleged crime. More than 150,000 Russians have signed online petitions calling for her release.

The harsh punishment comes as Russian authorities step up efforts to stamp out dissent. This week, courts in Moscow sentenced two Russian separatist leaders in Ukraine to lengthy prison sentences – one of them to four years – after they strongly criticized Putin’s management of the war.

There are indications that unrest in Russia could grow as economic conditions worsen and more troops return home dead or disillusioned from Ukraine. With morale sinking, some analysts question the military’s ability to sustain intense fighting through 2024.

“Cracks are appearing in Russia’s façade of loyalty to Putin’s war aims,” contends Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank. “The regime is resorting to fear tactics to keep the public under control as dissatisfaction increases.”

What comes next in the case

Legal experts say Trepova could serve over 20 years of her 27-year sentence if she loses her appeal. Supporters vow to continue rallying support in hopes of one day securing her early release.

“We will keep making noise until Daria is free,” says fellow art student Leonid Petrov, who organized an online petition for her. “If the rule of law still exists in Russia, no court can uphold such an excessive punishment for a 26-year-old woman.”

In the meantime, Trepova’s case is fueling polarized debate within Russia over the merits of Putin’s war and WHETHER political violence can be justified. Those divisions seem likely to deepen as the Ukraine conflict drags on.

“This trial put Russian society’s warring attitudes on full display,” concludes journalist Ilya Rozhdestvensky. “But instead of promoting reconciliation, it has only hardened feelings on both sides.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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