Day 404: Ukrainian troops hold defense in Bakhmut

Blast at a cafe in St Petersburg kills a Russian military blogger. Ukrainian troops hold out in Bakhmut, despite Russia’s false claims. Ukraine secures release of 12 people from Russian captivity.

Blast in Prigozhin’s cafe in Saint Petersburg kills military blogger

Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky was killed in a blast in a cafe in Saint Petersburg on Sunday, April 2. A 25-year-old woman identified as Daria Trepova is suspected in his murder.

The next day, Trepova was taken into custody. Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating a bombing that killed the blogger. They allegedly deployed “agents” connected to Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Russian authorities said, mentioning Trepova as a vocal supporter of the movement.

The Street Food Bar No 1 targeted on Sunday is allegedly owned by founder of the Wagner group Yevgeny Prigozhin. Vladlen Tatarsky (whose real name was Maxim Fomin) died in blast at a meet-and-greet event with followers at the cafe.

According to Russian state media, Trepova brought a bomb hidden inside a figurine to an event where Tatarsky was appearing as a guest. She left before the explosion. 

Russian news site Fontanka published a photo of the gathering that captured the suspect. CCTV footage has surfaced showing her carrying the packaged box into the cafe. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi declined to make any comment about the explosion that killed the Russian military blogger on Sunday.

“I’m not thinking what is going on in St. Petersburg, or in Moscow. Russia has to think about it. I’m thinking about our country,” Zelenskyi said.

Ukraine’s ground forces commander visits troops near Bakhmut, refutes Russia’s false claims of city’s capture

Commander of Ukraine’s ground forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said he constantly works with forces that carry out combat tasks on the Bakhmut axis. He refuted Russia’s false claim that its troops had captured the city. 

Syrskyi said that around Bakhmut he had met with soldiers and commanders who “had destroyed the myth of invincibility of the Wagner [mercenaries] and Russian paratroopers”. “The enemy is getting weaker and trying to cover up its failures with new fakes about the capture of Bakhmut. But the truth is that successful work by the Ukrainian Armed Forces disproves all efforts by Russian propagandists,” Syrskyi said in a Telegram post on Monday, April 3.    

Spokesperson for the Eastern Military Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Serhiy Cherevatyi earlier said that Russian forces are “very far” from capturing Bakhmut, despite Wagner group founder Prigozhin asserting the opposite. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine also refuted the statement.

Twelve Ukrainians released from Russian captivity

Ukraine said on Monday it had secured the release of 12 people from Russian captivity, including five heavily wounded. “Twelve Ukrainians were released from captivity, of whom 10 are service members and two civilians,” Ukraine’s Coordination Headquarters for Treatment of Prisoners of War said in a statement.

“Ten defenders are soldiers and sergeants who were taken prisoner while fighting near Bakhmut, the villages of Orikhove and Orikhovo-Vasylivka in Donetsk region, and near Kreminna and Chervonopopivka in Luhansk region.”

“[Ukraine] also secured the return of two civilians whom Russia held captive. They are from Lyptsi village in Kharkiv region and Mariupol,” the statement reads.

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