July 14, 2024

Russia’s interior ministry releases video of woman detained over St. Petersburg blast

From CNN’s Radina Gigova and Teele Rebane

Russia’s interior ministry released a short video of the female suspect who has been detained in connection with an explosion that killed a prominent Russian military blogger in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

In the video, a male voice asks the woman, identified by Russian authorities as Daria Trepova, if she understands why she has been detained.

She replies in the affirmative, and says she was detained for being at the scene of the murder of Vladlen Tatarsky, who was killed in the bombing at the Street Food Bar No. 1 cafe in central St. Petersburg.

Russian state media, quoting law-enforcement authorities and eyewitnesses, say an explosive device appeared to have been inside a figurine handed to Tatarsky by a woman at the cafe.

A male interrogator then asks Trepova what she did at the cafe. She replies that she brought the figurine, but declined to answer who gave it to her.

It is unclear whether Trepova was speaking under duress.

Human-rights advocates and international observers say Russian police routinely use torture and ill treatment to extract confessions. Russia’s security service uses coercion and entrapment to recruit informants among Russia’s opposition groups.

UN nuclear agency chief will travel to Russia on Wednesday

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel and Tim Lister

The head of the United Nations nuclear agency, International Atomic Energy Agency, will travel to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the Baltics Wednesday to discuss the safety of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a spokesperson for the agency told CNN.

“IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will visit Kaliningrad on Wednesday as part of his ongoing consultations aimed at ensuring the protection of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during the military conflict,” the spokesperson said Monday.

The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March of last year and is now run by the Russian atomic agency, Rosatom.

The situation at the nuclear plant has not improved, according to the IAEA chief, who visited the facility last week and cited increased military activity in the area.

Grossi during the visit said he was trying to formulate “realistic, viable proposals” that would be acceptable to both sides.

12 Ukrainian prisoners have been returned, Ukraine says

From Olga Voitovych

Twelve Ukrainian prisoners have been returned home from captivity – 10 military and two civilians, Ukraine says.

Five of them were seriously wounded, according to the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

The soldiers were captured in various parts of the front lines, it added.

On March 24, “Ukraine voluntarily and unconditionally returned to Russia all five severely wounded prisoners who were transportable,” the headquarters said, but added that Russia had released “only five seriously wounded Ukrainians, not all of them, as required by the international conventions signed by Russia.”

The Russian decision showed “a blatant lack of interest in establishing further exchanges for particularly vulnerable categories of prisoners and civilian hostages,” the headquarters said.

Since the beginning of the invasion in February last year, 2,005 Ukrainians have been released from captivity, according to the headquarters.

Cafe where St. Petersburg blast occurred linked to Wagner boss

From CNN’s Radina Gigova, Darya Tarasova and Teele Rebane

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said Monday that he “gave” the St. Petersburg cafe, where an explosion killed Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky on Sunday, to the Cyber Front Z group, which hosted an event at the cafe.

When asked to confirm whether he was the owner of the cafe, Prigozhin didn’t deny it, in comments published Monday by his holding company Concord on its VK social media page.

“Indeed, I gave the cafe to the patriotic movement Cyber Front Z, and they held various seminars there,” Prigozhin said.

Russia’s independent news outlet Fontanka is reporting that the cafe belongs to Prigozhin, on the basis of the Concord company’s ownership mentioned on the cafe’s receipt.

Prigozhin is the founder and sole owner of Concord, according to public records.

CNN has not been able to independently verify Prigozhin’s claims and whether he is the legal owner of the cafe.

In the same post, Prigozhin is also commenting on who may be behind the blast.

“I do not know the details of the incident now, I was only informed that, unfortunately, Vladlen Tatarsky died. I don’t know about the rest of the details,” Prigozhin said.

“Most likely, this tragedy happened at the seminar. As for the death of Darya Dugina, yes, everything is similar,” he said referencing the death of the daughter of ultra-nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, who was killed by a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow last year.

“But I would not blame the Kyiv regime for these actions. I think that there is a group of radicals that is hardly related to the government. That’s what I would call it,” Prigozhin said.

Zelensky declines to comment on St. Petersburg explosion that killed prominent Russian blogger

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declined to make any comment about the explosion that killed Russian military journalist Vladlen Tatarsky in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Zelensky said while on a tour of the northern Chernihiv region, “About St. Petersburg. I’m not thinking what is going on in St. Petersburg, or in Moscow. They have to think. Russia have to think about their cities. I’m thinking about our country. And our cities.”

Russia has arrested an anti-war activist named Daria Trepova in connection with the explosion that killed Tatarsky and injured at least 32 others at a cafe on Sunday.

Trepova’s husband Dmitry Rylov told the independent Russian publication The Insider that he is convinced his wife “was really just set up and used.”

Some more context: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said Ukraine may be behind the explosion. “There is evidence that the Ukrainian special services may be involved in the planning of this terrorist attack,” Peskov said. However, no evidence has yet been presented about who carried out the bombing.

Ukraine has said little about the explosion, beyond blaming in-fighting in Russia.

Two independent organizations in Russia — the Libertarian party and Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation — have denied any association with Trepova.

Wall Street Journal reporter appeals against his arrest in Russia

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Reporter for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich in an undated handout image.
Reporter for U.S. newspaper The Wall Street Journal Evan Gershkovich in an undated handout image. (The Wall Street Journal/Reuters)

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has filed an appeal against his arrest, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

The agency cited the press service of the Lefortovo court in Moscow, where he was taken into custody last week.

“The court received a complaint from Gershkovich’s defense against the choice of a preventive measure in the form of detention,” TASS reported.

No date for hearing the appeal has been set.

Gershkovich is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center at the notorious Lefortovo prison until May 29. He faces up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges.

It is the first time an American journalist has been detained on accusations by Moscow of spying since the Cold War.

Pope Francis calls for prayers for “the war-torn people” of Ukraine

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London

Pope Francis has called for prayers for “the war-torn people” of Ukraine in a tweet on Monday, just days after he was discharged from a hospital after being treated for a respiratory infection.

Here’s what he said: 

Ukrainians deride Wagner chief’s claim that Russian forces hold Bakhmut

From Svitlana Vlasova in Kyiv

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary force, speaks in a video message that was allegedly filmed near the city administration building in Bakhmut, Ukraine, in this still image from an undated video filmed through a night vision device and released on April 3.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force, speaks in a video message that was allegedly filmed near the city administration building in Bakhmut, Ukraine, in this still image from an undated video filmed through a night vision device and released on April 3. (Concord Press Service/Reuters)

Ukrainian officials have dismissed the claim made Sunday by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin that “in legal terms” Russian forces hold the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut.

Prigozhin made the claim while raising a Russian flag in Bakhmut in honor of the murdered military journalist Vladlen Tatarsky. He said the flag was being raised at the site of the council building. Video later surfaced of a flag being raised amid some rubble.

Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, told CNN that “all administrative buildings in Bakhmut have been destroyed. I don’t even know which one he was talking about.”

“At night, he put some kind of a rag on some remnant of something, it was shown on some incomprehensible video from a thermal imager,” Cherevatyi said. The reality was that “they have not been able to capture Bakhmut for nine months.”

By contrast, the official said Ukrainian forces only raised the flag once enemy units are expelled and stabilization measures are undertaken.

Cherevatyi said that a significant part of Bakhmut remains completely under the control of the Ukrainian defense forces, so this is “just more wishful thinking” on Prigozhin’s part.

“We are able to deliver everything we need there, including ammunition, medicine, food, and to take the wounded out of there,” he told CNN, adding that “the situation is very difficult but under our control and there are no signs of a systemic breakthrough or any significant operational success.”

The Russians failed to surround Bakhmut and made no battlefield breakthroughs while still suffering heavy losses, Cherevatyi said.

“Over the past 24 hours alone, 154 occupiers were killed in the Bakhmut sector, primarily Wagner fighters, 144 were wounded, and one was taken prisoner,” the official said.

Chervatyi said that so far Wagner’s units continue to be the main Russian striking force in Bakhmut, but “because of significant losses, they are unable to act entirely on their own in this area today…We can see that airborne troops and motorized infantry units are being deployed.”

He said the Wagner chief tried to create the illusion of self-sufficiency, but had failed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke about the battlefield Monday, alluding to the expectation that Ukrainian forces might soon launch a counteroffensive.

NATO pledges ongoing support to Ukraine

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London

NATO allies are “united in [their] determination to stay the course and support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference Monday.

“We will not be intimidated. We will continue to support Ukraine,” he said.  

The secretary general warned that “any provision of lethal aid by China to Russia” would be a “major mistake,” but also highlighted that NATO has not seen any changes in Russia’s “nuclear posture” that requires any response from NATO.

“We do not know when this war will end, but when it does, we will need to put in place arrangements so that Ukraine can deter future aggression and history does not repeat itself,” Stoltenberg said. “We cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security.”

NATO chief calls for “immediate release” of US journalist arrested in Russia

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference prior to the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, Belgium, on April 3.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference prior to the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, Belgium, on April 3. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for the “immediate release” of US national Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in Russia on spying charges last Friday.

“I join the United States in their call on Russia to release the American journalist Evan Gershkovich,” Stoltenberg said in a news conference Monday. “His arrest is of concern. It is important to respect freedom of the press, the rights of journalists, and the rights to ask questions and to do their jobs. Therefore, we call on his immediate release.”

Russian authorities detained Gershkovich last week and accused him of spying, signaling a significant ratcheting of both Moscow’s tensions with the United States and its campaign against foreign news media, which has been under intense pressure since President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. The Wall Street Journal categorically rejected those allegations, saying in a statement that it “vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter.”

It’s mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here’s what you need to know

From CNN staff

Russia has arrested an anti-war activist named Daria Trepova in connection with the explosion which killed prominent blogger Vladlen Tatarsky and injured at least 32 others at a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Finland is set to officially become a member of the NATO military alliance at an accession ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Russia arrests suspect over St. Petersburg explosion: A suspect has been detained in connection with the explosion that killed ultranationalist military blogger Tatarsky at a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday. Officials claim that Trepova worked with agents of the Ukrainian special services and associates of the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
  • Kremlin blames Ukraine: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said Ukraine may be behind the explosion. “There is evidence that the Ukrainian special services may be involved in the planning of this terrorist attack,” said Peskov. However, no evidence has yet been presented about who carried out the bombing.
  • No claim of responsibility: Ukraine has said little about the explosion, beyond blaming in-fighting in Russia. Two independent organizations in Russia — the Libertarian party and Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation — have denied any association with Trepova.
  • Trepova’s husband says she was “set up”: Dmitry Rylov has told independent Russian publication The Insider that he is convinced his wife “was really just set up and used.” “Dasha [Daria], in principle, is not the kind of person who could kill anyone,” added Rylov, who is not in Russia.
  • Finland to join NATO: Finnish President Sauli Niinistö will travel to Brussels on Tuesday to attend an accession ceremony at NATO headquarters, officially marking the start of the country’s membership of the military alliance.
  • Poland delivers fighter jets to Ukraine: Poland has already delivered “several” MiG-29 fighter aircraft to Ukraine, the Polish president’s foreign affairs adviser Marcin Przydacz said Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to visit Poland on Wednesday, according to Przydacz.
  • Competing claims over Bakhmut: Zelensky thanked the Ukrainian military for defending the country, particularly the eastern city of Bakhmut. “It’s especially hot there today,” Zelensky said Sunday, without elaborating further. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed in a short video published Sunday that “in legal terms, Bakhmut has been taken.”
  • Melitopol explosion: A Russian-appointed official was injured in a car explosion in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Monday. The injured person, Maksym Zubarev, is reportedly the head of the Russian-occupied Yakymivka community.
  • German vice chancellor in Kyiv: Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday. “The purpose of this trip is to give Ukraine a clear sign that we believe that it will be victorious, that it will be rebuilt,” said Habeck.

Source: cnn.com

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