Sunday, 26 January 2014

Hoax bomb callers in Russia may face 5 years in jail

Making hoax bomb threats by telephone could become punishable by prison sentences of up to five years in Russia under proposed legislation presented to parliament Friday. A bill filed with the State Duma envisions imprisonment or fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($14,500) for what Russian media has dubbed “telephone terrorism.” Schools and train stations are frequently targeted by the hoaxes, causing major disturbances and creating substantial financial damages. Misinforming authorities about forthcoming terror attacks is currently punishable by a maximum prison sentence of three years or a fine of 200,000 rubles. Authorities say they are concerned that existing penalties are insufficient to deter pranksters, however. The cost of a single bomb check can reach 5 million rubles ($145,000), according to a note accompanying the bill, which has been made available on the Duma’s website. There were 2,245 telephone calls warning of forthcoming terror attacks in Russia in 2013, up from some 1,300 in 2009, the note said. Backers of the legislation say 90 percent of such calls were pranks. Less than one quarter of “telephone terrorists” are convicted, because most uses fake SIM cards and encrypted calls of Internet-based anonymizing tools to hide their identity. No timeframe is yet available for consideration of the draft legislation.

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