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Russian lawmakers crack down on ‘telephone terrorism'

December 20, 2017, 14:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Since September 11, a wave of phone calls has swept across Russian cities

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MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) passed in the third, final reading on Wednesday a draft law on increasing the maximum jail terms for "telephone terrorists" from five to ten years.

The initiative was submitted by State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and the heads of the Statehood Development and Legislation Committee and the Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov and Vasily Piskarev.

The lawmakers approved amendments to Section 207 of the Russian Criminal Code ("False report about an act of terrorism"). They stipulate that any hoax calls on alleged preparations for an explosion, arson or other dangerous actions that may result in deaths or significant damage are punishable by three to five years in jail.

If "telephone terrorists" act with the goal of "destabilizing the activity of government agencies," they will face between six and eight years in prison. In case such acts results in fatalities or severe consequences, these individuals will face punishment between eight and ten years in prison. According to the current version of the Russian Criminal Code, the maximum penalty under its Section 207 is a prison term of up to five years.

Since September 11, a wave of phone calls has swept across Russian cities. Emergency services have combed through secondary and higher schools, shopping malls, airports, railway stations, hotels and government buildings. In Moscow alone, evacuations were carried out at more than 30 facilities, a total of 450,000 people were evacuated across Russia from September 11 to September 25, 2017, and about 1,000 anonymous phone threats were registered. According to Krasheninnikov, the damage from these hoax bomb calls amounted to 1 bln rubles ($16.9 mln).

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