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Convictions for using spy gadgets quintuple in Russia

A total of 235 individuals were convicted last year for using spy gear

MOSCOW, December 20. /TASS/. The number of individuals convicted in Russia for using spy gear like pens with concealed video cameras, handheld radio-microphones and camouflaged mini cameras as well as other similar devices has risen almost fivefold since 2011, law enforcement agencies told TASS on Wednesday.

"A total of 49 individuals were convicted in 2011 under article 138.1 of Russia’s Criminal Code ("Illegal commerce in special devices intended to clandestinely obtain information") compared to 161 in 2013 and 235 last year," the source in the country’s law enforcement agencies said.

Spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia, Alexander Kurennoi, said in an interview with RT TV Channel that prosecutors would conduct a full-scale review of all criminal cases launched under article 138.1 of the country’s Criminal Code.

"At the initiative of the Prosecutor General’s Office, this check has been instituted all across Russia. We will study, if there are abuses when enforcing these regulations in the regions," the spokesman said.

The attention of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office was drawn to this issue after a journalist asked Russian President Vladimir Putin at his recent annual year-end news conference about a criminal case opened against farmer Yevgeny Vasilyev in the Kurgan Region who had bought a GPS-tracker to monitor his cow’s whereabouts.

A total of 385 crimes were registered in Russia in 2015 under article 138.1 of the country’s Criminal Code and 344 individuals were exposed as those complicit in these wrongdoings compared to 331 such offences and 296 accomplices in 2016.