Ukrainian pranker appeals arrest in absentia over misinforming of Kemerovo fire victims
MOSCOW, April 3 (RAPSI) - 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, has appealed a Russian court’s ruling to arrest him in absentia, the spokesperson of Moscow’s Basmanny District Court Yunona Tsareva has told RAPSI.
A date for hearing has not been set yet, she said.
On March 28, the court issued an arrest warrant for Kuvikov (Volnov) in absentia. He 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 Kemerovo’s 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.
Seven persons were charged and detained in the case. They are: Yulia Bogdanova, CEO of the Kemerovsky Confectionary Combine, a company owning the mall, Tanziliya Komkova, head of the region’s State Construction Inspection, a formal head of the mall’s owner company Georgy Sobolev; the mall’s manager Nadezhda Suddenok; CEO of the company System Integrator that developed the fire safety system Igor Polozinenko; an employee of the company, who personally installed the fire alarm Alexander Nikitin and a guard who allegedly turned off the emergency notification system when he received a fire signal Sergey Antyushin.
Investigators noted 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.