MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Security Service announced on Thursday it has shut down a Dutch-registered Startmail.com website that has been sending thousands of hoax bomb threats to courts, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and other facilities across Russia since November 2019.
"Since November 28, 2019 until now, the foreign service Startmail.com (in the Netherlands) has sent more than 1,000 anonymous reports with bomb threats to emails of judicial authorities in 16 Russian regions," the FSB Public Relations Center told TASS.
More than 16,000 social infrastructure facilities such as schools, kindergartens, hospitals, transport and shopping centers received bomb threats, which turned out to be a hoax.
"Starting from January 23, 2020 access to information resources of the foreign service Startmail.com will be banned," the FSB said, noting that the decision was made based on a demand of the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media.
The website was shut down in order to prevent hoax bomb threats and protect the Russian Internet segment from false information, which is sensitive to the public and creates a threat of harming citizens’ life, health and property, the FSB explained. These reports also pose a threat to public safety and to the operations of social and transport infrastructure facilities, it said.
The bomb scare wave erupted in November 2019 with anonymous perpetrators emailing bomb threats to courts, schools, shopping malls and colleges. All threats were checked by bomb squads, but not a single one was deemed to be genuine.