One day before the assassination of pro-Kremlin activist, Vladlen Tatarsky, a Kyiv Post journalist was contacted by Ilya Ponomarev, a Kyiv-based Russian opposition leader who has previously spoken on behalf of the National Republican Army (NRA).

 

At the very start of the conversation, Ponomarev indicated that "before Monday night" there would be "another 200" to "eliminate a Putinist enemy."  "200" is the cargo code that the Russian military uses for corpses and is commonly used as slang for "being killed."

 

This past August, the NRA took credit for the car bomb assassination of Russian Daria Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, an extremist ideologue. At the time, the Kyiv Post interviewed "Alexander," who gave Kyiv Post details of the killing that were not known to the public. Despite hackers who self-identified as NRA having defaced Russian websites with their logo and who have leaked sensitive data from Russian corporations that provide services to the Russian Government, some have remained skeptical as to the organization's existence.

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Since the Dugina killing, the NRA is not known to have engaged in any other bombings. The NRA's public statement at the time, which was read to the press by Ponomarev, stated that the organization was seeking the overthrow of the Putin regime, including via the use of violent means, but that violence would never be unleashed against civilians.

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Adding authenticity to Ponomarev's statements to Kyiv Post on Saturday, two hours after the explosion on Sunday that took the life of Tatarsky and injured 32 people, Ponomarev sent a further message to the same Kyiv Post journalist. It contained a photo of Tatarsky and stating that he was "200."

 

 

Ponomarev went on to indicate that Kyiv Post would not be able to get an exclusive interview with the murderer as that had already been promised to PosleZavtra, a pro-Russian opposition news source. Ponomarev continued that the assailant was at that point being exfiltrated from Russia.

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The contacted journalist emailed Kyiv Post editors so that there would be a time-stamped record of the conversation before the woman was exfiltrated.

 

Speaking again to Kyiv Post on yesterday, Ponomarev was emphatic that the woman arrested, Darya Trepova, on suspicion of having been behind the bombing, was not the bomber and that Russian police had detained the wrong person. Russian news sources say that Trepova was a courier who delivered a statue to Tatarsky that had a bomb inside of it. Now in custody, Daria Trepova is being represented by the same lawyer as Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich.  

 

The NRA's statement (in Russian), which was released on Tuesday, took responsibility for the assassination and also denied that Trepova was behind the bombing. It follows:


We, the St. Petersburg column of the National Republican Army, declare:

1. We organized and carried out an action on April 2, 2023 against a group of Z-activists and personally against the well-known warmonger and war propagandist, war criminal Maxim Fomin, known as Vladlen Tatarsky. This action was prepared and carried out by us autonomously, and we have no connection and have not received assistance from any foreign structures, let alone special services.

2. This action was carried out in a club owned by one of the most famous Russian gangsters and criminals, Yevgeny Prigozhin. As a result of the action the club will stop its work. We are satisfied with this.

3. The action we carried out was not directed against civilians, and all the victims are among the active supporters of the war, justifying the war crimes of the Putin regime in Ukraine.

4. The Russian security forces act in their traditional style - they accuse and seize those they can reach, regardless of involvement, as happened with Daria Trepova. Daria Trepova, a well-known figure in the leftist and feminist movement, is a hero. At a time when many “oppositionists” wrote posts on Facebook and shone flashlights, she fought, went to protests and risked her freedom by participating in all opposition movements that now refuse her. We ask Russian human rights activists to help Daria Trepova and other innocent people who fall into the clutches of Putin's guardsmen.

We also call on Russian oppositionists not to speculate on this topic, acting as assistants to the investigation, and to treat her status as a hostage of the system with understanding.

5. We call on the people of Russia to follow our example and provide all kinds of resistance to the criminal Russian regime up to its complete destruction. Criminals will not feel safe on Russian soil!

Russia will be free!

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Petersburg Column of the NRA

 

Russian authorities had initially sought to blame the explosion on Ukraine, which Ukrainian authorities have strongly denied.  Russian pro-government media sources are now pointing fingers at Roman Popkov, a close ally of Ponomarev and Editor-in-Chief of Rospartizan and PosleZavtra, media outlets financed by Ponomarev. Popov did years in Russian prison for a 2004 attack on the Russian President's Office.

 

 

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