MOSCOW, November 14./TASS/. A wave of hoax bomb calls to numerous facilities in Moscow in the past two months came from several groups of people from abroad, the head of the Moscow Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, adding that 13 criminal cases have been opened.
Investigators have found out, "that all calls coming on a mass scale have been made with the use of VoIP telephony," Oleg Baranov said. "Analysis of incoming calls has shown that they as a rule have similar texts and digital gadgets have been used. This has made it possible to conclude that these waves of calls come from several groups of people," he told a round-table at the Moscow City Duma.
He said most calls have been tracked from Turkey, Ukraine, the US and Japan. "These facts prevent us from taking prompt measures to thwart criminal activity," he noted.
Baranov said criminal cases have been launched not on each separate phone call, but on crimes "having the same plot and signs of being committed by one group of criminals," he said.
He said 13 criminal cases have been opened, each of them embracing 11 to 273 bomb alert calls.
More than 250,000 people have been evacuated from 564 facilities due to hoax bomb scares in Moscow starting from September, the head of the Moscow department for regional security and anti-corruption fight said earlier on Tuesday.
"As of November 9,564 facilities had received bomb threat calls. More than a quarter of a million people were evacuated, including 184,000 people from crowded areas, 29,000 from educational establishments, 13,000 from hotels and hostels, 9,000 from government agencies and 18,000 from railway stations," Vladimir Chernikov told a session of the Moscow Duma.
He said damage from hoax bomb calls runs into hundreds of millions of rubles, "including direct costs defrayed by city agencies in connection with evacuations". According to the department’s chief, there is other damage apart from material losses that are difficult to calculate. Among them moral damage and fear people feel when such threats come in.
"Muscovites can feel calm, as the entire might of the city’s system works to counter them [telephone terrorists]," the official said, adding that none of the bomb threats in Moscow has been confirmed. However, "developments have shown that there is still room for improvement."
Chernikov believes it is necessary to stiffen punishment for telephone terrorism. "We must see to it that hooligans don’t even dare think about. The punishment must be more severe," he stressed.
Since September 11, a wave of phone calls has swept across Russian cities and towns. Emergency services have combed through secondary and higher schools, shopping malls, airports, railway stations, hotels and governmental buildings. More than one million people were subject to evacuation as safety precautions from over 2,600 facilities in 170 cities and towns. Criminal cases have been opened into numerous bomb scares in Moscow and other Russian cities.