Stoicescu: Rising Kremlin paranoia behind Russian military blogger slaying

Kalev Stoicescu taking part in Monday's 'Ringvaade'.
Kalev Stoicescu taking part in Monday's 'Ringvaade'. Source: ERR

The recent murder in St. Petersburg of a Russian military blogger is evidence of the insecurity of the Putin regime and growing paranoia on its part, security expert Kalev Stoicescu says.

Appearing on ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Monday, Stoicescu, who is a research fellow at the Tallinn-based International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) and ran for Eesti 200 at the recent Riigikogu elections, was speaking in the aftermath of the death of Vladlen Tatarsky, killed in a blast in a St. Petersburg cafe Sunday evening.

Tatarsky had been a vocal supporter of Russia's invasion of Ukraine via his bogging activities, but nonetheless his murder was likely conducted by Russian secret service operatives, Stoicescu said.

"I think this was a deliberate assassination by the Russian special services, and is a very clear signal to both bloggers and to [oligarch, head of the Wagner Group and Putin confidante Yevgeny] Prigozhin," Stoicescu said.

Tartarsky's criticisms of Prigozhin, dubbed "Putin's chef" due to some of his business activities including restaurant and catering services to the Kremlin, may have been decisive.

"These have been more vocal in criticizing both the Russian armed forces and the political power structure for failures [in Ukraine]. The fact that lately he (Tatarsky-ed.) turned his attention more towards Prigozhin and was more critical of the actions of the Russian armed forces, could have been fatal for Tatarsky," Stoicescu told "Ringvaade" presenter Marko Reikop.

The backdrop is a power struggle in Russia, which may be manifested by more, similar events in the future, Stoicescu added.

"We should look at the general background of what is happening in Russia. This horrendous paranoia that is increasing every day; parents informing on their children; children informing on their parents and teachers informing on students; people in the subway informing on their fellow passengers, etc. Things are likely soon to get even worse than they were under Stalin. This all points to the fact that Putin's regime is insecure and scared. While now the fight with these military bloggers has begun," Stoicescu went on.

Stoicescu added that Prigozhin himself has ruled out Ukraine as a potential culprit in the murder.

Prigozhin had already stated he did not suspect Ukraine being behind either the killing last August of Darya Dugina, daughter of a Russian ideologist, or of the recent killing of Tatarsky, the expert noted.

"I think that if Prigozhin already says something along those lines, then he knows what he is talking about. But, alas, he will not tell us what he knows," he added.

Military bloggers in Russia themselves are not run-of-the mill members of the public, but rather those who have good connections in and to the chain of power in Russia, and so consequently have access to strong information streams, directly from the military sphere.

Since Tatarsky was pro-invasion and a Russian patriot, other bloggers cut from the same cloth would now be feeling more uncomfortable, Stoicescu added, not leas since Russian special services could have been behind the Tatarsky killing .

There is a paradox with such individuals, he added – since while on the one hand they are highly patriotic and unwavering in their support of the invasion, on the other, they mirror alternative media in the west in some ways, in going against the official narrative and propaganda, and giving glimpses of what is really happening in the Ukraine war.

Sunday's explosion left to 24 other individuals being hospitalized, with half-a-dozen in a critical condition, the BBC reports.

While it was not clear in the immediate aftermath who had been responsible for the attack., Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, blamed "internal political in-fighting" and likened the situation to "spiders eating each other in a jar."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Ringvaade'

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