On April 2, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova lamented the lack of Western reaction to the death earlier that day of Russian pro-war military blogger Maxim Fomin, aka Vladlen Tatarsky, killed in a St. Petersburg cafe explosion that also injured several dozen other people.
Referring to Fomin as a “war correspondent,” Zakharova said:
“Today, the lack of reaction from the White House, Downing Street, Elysee Palace, etc., given their ostensible concern for journalists’ wellbeing, is self-revelatory.”
That is false.
Fomin was no war correspondent, but rather was a Kremlin propagandist and pro-war military blogger who called for Ukraine’s destruction and the murder of Ukrainians. His channel on the Telegram messenger had more than 570,000 subscribers.
In December 2011, Fomin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for armed bank robbery, which he was serving in Horlivka, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. Only three years later, after Russia launched its clandestine military invasion of eastern Ukraine, Fomin escaped from prison and joined a pro-Russian militia in the Donbas.
Russia-installed Donbas authorities briefly re-arrested but subsequently pardoned Fomin.
After the pardon, in 2017, Fomin ended up in the pro-Russian militia in the Russian-occupied parts of eastern Ukraine's Luhansk Oblast.
According to the BBC, Fomin served in the LPR’s intelligence units and participated in military operations intermittently until 2021. At the same time, Fomin and a mercenary from the Wagner private military company ran a YouTube channel, on which they discussed military operations and sometimes voiced Russian nationalist sentiments.
After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Fomin again joined the hostilities. On his Telegram channel, and in an interview with Russian state media, Fomin discussed military operations he took part in, launching combat drones and building fortifications.
Fomin fully supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating that its primary goal is the "complete destruction of the Ukrainian state."
In September 2022, Fomin participated in the Kremlin ceremony at which President Vladimir Putin announced Russia's illegal annexation of four partly-occupied Ukrainian regions.
“We’ll defeat everyone, we’ll kill everyone, we’ll rob everyone we need to. Everything will be the way we like it,” Fomin said in a video message recorded at the ceremony.
On September 13, 2022, Fomin called for strikes to destroy power plants in Ukraine so that more Ukrainians would die in hospitals:
“Many people have a strange love for Ukrainians. They don’t understand why we’re destroying their infrastructure. Why do we make them angry? Look, those pigs were already angry… we must destroy the infrastructure. Hospitals will not work, and more Ukrainians will die - on operating tables, for example...”
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed outrage for the West’s “lack of reaction” to journalists’ safety issues just days after the Russian authorities arrested Evan Gershkovich, an American journalist covering Russia for The Wall Street Journal, on fabricated espionage charges.
On the same day Zakharova called Fomin – a convicted criminal and militant – a “war correspondent,” she claimed on Russian TV that Gershkovich was not involved in any journalistic activities in Russia. Gershkovich’s years of reporting from Russia prove that claim to be demonstrably false.