“I support an open court hearing,” Daria Trepova, accused of a terrorist attack that killed military correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky and wounded more than 40 people who were present at the meeting with him, said at the trial. About why the meeting was still transferred to a closed regime, how journalists stormed the abode of justice, and representatives of the defense were outraged by the leaks in the case, but refused to comment to the press – in the report “BUSINESS Online”.
How “Shards of Holy Miracles” turned into fragments from a bomb
The explosion in the St. Petersburg cafe “Street Bar”, which killed war correspondent Vladlen Tatarsky (real name and surname Maxim Fomin) and injured more than 40 people of varying severity, instantly became one of the most discussed topics in the media. The incident took place on Sunday, April 2. Almost immediately, it was established that Daria Trepova, a girl, a former student of St. Petersburg State University and, as the investigation believes, a possible supporter of the Anti-Corruption Foundation * Alexei Navalny, was involved in the incident. According to investigators, it was she who, on a fateful Sunday evening, handed Tatarsky a figurine with explosives. This is also confirmed by numerous witnesses who were at the meeting with the military correspondent, as well as videos made a few minutes before the tragedy. Trepova was detained on Monday morning, the day after the crime, in a rented apartment in the Vyborgsky district of St. Petersburg. At the same time, it became known almost immediately that the measure of restraint for her would probably be chosen by the capital, and not the St. Petersburg court. Later, this information was confirmed with a clarification: the hearing will be held in the Basmanny District Court of Moscow.
For one full working day on Monday, journalists learned a lot about Trepova. Not only age, marital status, education, but also details about her environment, areas of interest and the sequence of actions committed by the girl on Sunday evening. Part of the media stated that Trepova was most likely set up or used blindly. Some acquaintances of the accused told the press that she was, in principle, a peace-loving and apolitical person, was fond of fine arts, fashion design, and even tried to build a business in this area. The SBU, Navalny’s supporters, as well as the journalist and former activist of the banned in the Russian Federation and recognized extremist National Bolshevik Party Roman Popkov, who now lives in Kiev, were named as possible customers of the terrorist attack. Popkov and the bulkers, however, deny their involvement in the incident.
Trepova herself, during interrogation in the investigative committee of the Russian Federation, admitted that the people who recruited her had set her the task of getting closer to Tatarsky. Before the incident, the girl lived abroad for some time, but periodically appeared in Russia. On the instructions of recruiters, she ran the Shards of Holy Miracles telegram channel – outwardly apolitical and full of beautiful reproductions, but with a slight patriotic flair, she often visited the Foliage bookstore, well known in the Z-environment. For several months, Trepova became close to representatives of the patriotic link, including Tatarsky. He knew her under the name “artist Nastya” – that’s how the girl introduced herself when she first looked at Vladlen’s evening in the Moscow “Foliage”.
According to preliminary data from the investigation, on March 31, she arrived in St. Petersburg by car from Moscow and brought with her a sculptural image of Tatarsky, intended for him as a gift. According to Trepova herself, she did not suspect that she was actually inside the figurine – it seemed to her that there was a listening device. She handed Tatarsky a gift and, after his insistent entreaties not to stray far from him, sat down in an armchair by the window, a few meters from the military correspondent. The explosion, which resounded a few minutes later, killed the military correspondent, shrapneled those who were sitting nearby and stunned Daria herself. In the video footage showing how people left the cafe torn apart by TNT, you can see how Trepova goes out into the street, while maintaining outward calm. Then, presumably at 18:25, the girl enters a rented apartment on Vasilyevsky Island not far from the Street Bar, shortens her hair, changes clothes and calls a taxi. For the next four hours, she winds around the city, changing from 4 to 6 cars. At around 11:00 pm, she arrives at the apartment of her friend’s husband, located in one of the residential areas of St. Petersburg, not far from the metro station with the poetic name “Parnassus”. Surveillance cameras captured Daria, dragging a suitcase on wheels, and an unknown young man entering the elevator and going upstairs – with the girl smiling slightly, keeping up the conversation with a guy who, apparently, turned out to be her random travel companion. Early in the morning, the police and special forces will drive up to this house, a search will begin in the front doors, and by 11:00 Trepova will finally be detained, having made her the first interrogation.
A long journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, or How journalists guarded Trepova at Basmanny
All this was actively exaggerated in the media. Therefore, already on Monday evening, as soon as it became known that the hearing in the Trepova case would be held in the Basmanny Court of Moscow, many members of the press went to the well-known to them and already managed to become a household name of the abode of justice. Among them was the correspondent of “BUSINESS online”. Formally, there was no confirmed information about the date and time of the hearing, but no one doubted that they would try to conduct it promptly. However, on the evening of April 3, the journalists were left with nothing – the servants of Themis came out more than once to explain that the court was no longer working, there was no one in the building and it was impossible to hold a hearing. TASS later confirmed that the meeting would take place on Tuesday, April 4. The journalists dispersed to meet again at the Basmanny Court in a few hours.
At ten minutes to nine the next day on Kalanchevskaya Street, where the court was located, one could notice a whole crowd of media representatives. Videographers and photojournalists tried to choose a more comfortable shooting point. Almost immediately it became known that it was not worth waiting for the meeting before noon. Such a press was not surprised: the journalists, despite the assurances of the court employees, were sure that Trepova could be delivered at any moment. By 13:00, in the fourth hour of waiting, it turned out that the suspect had only recently taken off from St. Petersburg. An hour later, with a small media outlet, it was reported that the plane with the likely culprit in the death of Tatarsky had landed in the capital, and a video from the airport was posted to confirm. In the footage, Trepova follows under escort in the same clothes in which she was captured the day before in St. Petersburg: she was wearing a red-striped sports jacket, dark blue trousers and sneakers in a muted yellow hue.
In Basmanny Darya, most likely, they brought it straight from the airport. It turned out to be problematic to let in all the press representatives who wanted to: there was only one metal frame at the entrance to the court. However, the press service of the court turned out to be ready for increased media attention: in the corridor near the meeting room, in which Trepova was soon to appear, they organized a space for the media, separated from the main hall by four benches. Gathered in a narrow corridor, the journalists waited for about half an hour for the session to begin. This was due to the fact that the court needed time to familiarize itself with the materials of the investigation. They were probably brought in at the same time as the suspect.
“At the current stage, there are no grounds for closing the process on the case”
Finally, Trepova was brought into the meeting room. The bailiffs immediately forbade journalists to ask her any questions. The defendant herself, being in the “aquarium”, seemed lost and preferred not to notice the representatives of the press. Crossing her legs and clasping her hands in front of her, she sat humbly, her eyes on the floor, and whispered something. It was impossible to make out what exactly Trepova was saying, but it could be assumed that she was reading something like a prayer or was simply talking to herself. Journalists at this time could take photo and video frames. When the writing correspondents were let into the hall, Trepova stopped whispering and completely turned away from the press, staring at the wall. With the advent of judge Valentina Levasheva, her gaze continued to remain indifferent to what was happening, her hair was disheveled, her jacket was removed. Before the judge, Trepova appeared in a sports burgundy sweater, dark blue trousers and yellow sneakers.
At the beginning of the meeting, Daria behaved calmly, answered the questions asked very confidently, without breaks in her voice. At the same time, she added thanks and inserted other polite language into her speech where it was appropriate. Confirming her identity, she told the court the facts about which the media have written more than once over the past two days. The girl said that she had an incomplete higher education. Recall, earlier it was reported that in 2019 she voluntarily expelled from St. Petersburg State University, where she studied at the Faculty of Medicine for four years. Trepova also confirmed the marriage. Her husband, an activist of the Libertarian Party of Russia (LPR), Dmitry Rylov, according to some sources, now lives in Tbilisi.
Almost immediately investigator Abdulmanov applied to the judge with a petition. He asked to attach to the materials of the case the decision on the performance of the actions of the operational-investigative group. In addition, he filed a motion to transfer the process to a closed regime. “I propose to consider it in a closed format, since public consideration can violate privacy,” he said. Prosecutor Fedina did not object to the petitions, but Daria herself had doubts when the judge turned to her with a similar question. She even expressed a desire to get acquainted with the attached materials. “This is nothing special, just a list of investigators, nothing significant,” one of the representatives of the defense, Daniil Berman, hastened to reassure her. It is worth noting that the defendant had two lawyers, but the second representative of the defense Bityuk was not remembered by the press, because during the open part of the meeting he did not say anything on the merits.
“I support an open court hearing. I do not support the closure of the court session,” Trepova answered in confusion. This position was supported by her lawyer. “I think that at the current stage there are no grounds for closing the process on the case. Moreover, I draw the court’s attention to the fact that for some reason some of the court’s information has already been opened and published in the media,” Berman explained. – If the investigation considered that it was necessary to hide the process, then there was no need to allow leaks. As a result of these leaks, opinions are already being expressed by various individuals, including government officials, which puts pressure on participants in advance.” However, the judge, unfortunately for the journalists, took the side of the investigator and transferred the process to a closed regime.
The correspondent of “BUSINESS online” could only wait for the announcement of the court’s decision in the corridor. After the press was removed from the hall, the meeting lasted another 40 minutes and ended with a more than likely outcome. The court took Trepova into custody for 2 months – until June 2, 2023. All participants in the process declined to comment. Lawyer Berman literally ran away from journalists waiting for him on the street. In the documents of the court itself, it is clarified: “The petition of the defense for the choice of a measure or other measure not related to detention was denied.”
Recall that Trepova was charged under Part 3 of Art. 205 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part 4 of Art. 222.1 (“Act of terrorism committed by an organized group, resulting in the deliberate infliction of death on a person, as well as the illegal carrying of explosive devices, committed by an organized group”). According to lawyers, she could face up to 30 years in prison.