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Russian debt collector-turned-arsonist may face attempted murder charges

January 28, 19:34 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to media reports, the attacker was a debt collector, who was pressing for the repayment of a 4,000-ruble micro-loan (roughly $60)
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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, January 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Investigative Committee may bring forward stronger charges in the case opened over the arson of a private home in the city of Ulyanovsk, on the Volga river, in which a two-year-old child was hurt.

The IC press service has told TASS the incident occurred late at night on January 27. A local resident hurled a Molotov cocktail through the window of a private home. A man, 56, and a two-year-old child suffered burns in the fire that followed.

According to media reports, the attacker was a debt collector, who was pressing for the repayment of a 4,000-ruble micro-loan (roughly $60). By the moment of the attack the interest on the debt had grown ten-fold. There has been no confirmation from the IC a debt collector was involved.

Originally the attacker, 44 years of age, was accused of causing premeditated damage to or destruction of property by arson, but as the investigation proceeds, he may have to brace for much stronger charges (attempted murder of two or more persons).

"Investigation is in progress into all circumstances of the incident. A decision is to be made if the accused should be remanded in custody," the IC said.

Russia’s Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko has declared that in her opinion the activity of all debt collectors should be suspended until the adoption of proper legislation.

"In view of the ever more frequent cases of outrageous arbitrariness by collectors it is essential to pause the operation of all debt collector agencies until the adoption of a special law that would establish strict rules for them to follow," Matviyenko said in a statement issued by the press-service of the upper house of parliament.

While such legislation is being drafted, the rule prohibiting the transfer of any banking services-related rights to unlicensed persons and entities should be restored to the law on banking activity."

"In this way we will protect the people from contacts with shady personalities and shady organizations operating in collector agencies’ disguise," she said.

At a full-scale meeting of the upper house of parliament on Wednesday Matviyenko called for the fastest adoption of a law on debt collector activities.

"These days it is a criminal type of business. Ever more often we hear absolutely outrageous stories of how debtors are being forced to pay the money they owe. Bearing in mind that the overdue debt on loans keeps growing, the bundle of related problems will be snowballing," Matviyenko said. She urged her colleagues, the State Duma and the government to pool efforts to produce an up-to-date comprehensive law on debt collectors.

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