Ukrainian pranker accused of misinforming of Kemerovo fire victims arrested in absentia
MOSCOW, March 28 (RAPSI) – Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant in absentia for Ukrainian national Nikita Kuvikov known as pranker Yevgeny Volnov, who allegedly disinformed people of the death toll in the blaze in Kemerovo’s Zimnyaya Vishnya (“Winter Cherry”) shopping mall, the court’s spokesperson Yunona Tsareva told RAPSI.
Kuvikov (Volnov) was charged with inciting hatred and enmity.
According to investigation, the pranker called medical settings and government agencies on the phone and distributed false information on the death toll in the accident in order to destabilize the situation. Reportedly, he said that about 300 people were killed by fire.
The fire in the mall occurred on March 25. Investigators reported that 64 persons including children were killed in the accident. A criminal case has been launched over involuntary manslaughter, violation of fire safety regulations that left more than two persons dead and provisions of services that don’t meet safety requirements.
About 100 investigators and criminal law experts of the Investigative Committee’s headquarters are currently working at the site of the tragedy.
Five persons were arrested and questioned, including a formal head of the mall’s owner company, a renter of a place where the fire allegedly began, a CEO and an employee in an organization maintaining the fire alarm and a guard who allegedly turned off the emergency notification system when he received a fire signal. Charges were brought against them. The defendants were put in detention until May 25.
Investigators note that 70 persons were questioned as witnesses and allegedly numerous violations made during the mall construction were found. It was also revealed that fire exits were blocked.
According to the Investigative Committee Chairman Alexander Bastrykin, the two main versions of the tragedy are an electrical short circuit and arson. Technical, electrical and construction examinations would be conducted as part of the investigation, he said during the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Putin declared March 28 a national day of mourning.