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Russian court issues arrest warrant in absentia for Ukrainian pranker

Vladimir Putin gave instructions to report to him regularly on the investigation of the case
Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping centre in Kemerovo Maxim Grigoriev/TASS
Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping centre in Kemerovo
© Maxim Grigoriev/TASS

MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS/. A court in Moscow has issued an arrest warrant in absentia for Ukrainian pranker Nikita Kuvikov, who spread false rumors in the Internet about the number of casualties in the Kemerovo shopping and entertainment center fire.

"The court has sustained the investigator’s request for an in absentia arrest warrant for Ukrainian citizen Nikita Kuvikov (nicknamed online as pranker Yevgeny Volnov - TASS)," the court’s press service said.

"The Basmanny Court has granted the motion of investigation to take into custody the suspect Kuvikov for a period of two months since the date of either extradition or detention in the territory of the Russian Federation," the spokesperson said.

In addition, Kuvikov was placed on the wanted list.

Earlier, the IC was reported to have opened a criminal case under Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code (Incitement of Hatred or Hostility).

According to investigators, Kuvikov spread false rumors about the number of Kemerovo fire fatalities, thus misleading the relatives of victims and injured survivors and trying to destabilize the situation.

Earlier, recordings of Kuvikov’s telephone calls containing allegations about hundreds of fire victims were uploaded on social networks. The Investigative Committee and the Emergencies Ministry dismissed the rumors.

On March 25, a fire engulfing the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping and entertainment center in the Siberian city of Kemerovo killed 64, including 41 children. Twenty-seven bodies have been identified. Seventy-six people, including 27 minors, have been injured in the blaze.

Putin declared March 28 a national day of mourning for the fire victims.