Kemerovo Region’s top official arrested as part of mall blaze case
MOSCOW, May 25 (RAPSI) – Head of the Ministry of Emergencies’ department for Kemerovo Region Alexander Mamontov has been arrested by law enforcement officers as part of the investigation into a criminal case over tragic fire in the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping mall that left 64 people dead, the press-service of the Investigative Committee has reported.
According to the Committee, head of the Ministry’s directorate for city of Kemerovo Grigory Terentyev and other officials are also under investigation. Depending on their alleged actions, officials are suspected of criminal negligence and embezzlement.
Investigators allege that Mamontov and Terentyev have not organized the mall’s safety examination since 2017 despite knowing that one should have been completed before March 18.
In addition, Mamontov used his position to embezzle 1.8 million rubles ($29,200) from the Ministry and used it for benefit of other persons.
The blaze in the mall occurred on March 25. According to investigators, 60 people including dozens of children were killed by fire. Initially it was reported that 64 people died.
A criminal case has been launched over involuntary manslaughter, violation of fire safety regulations that left more than two persons dead and provisions of services that don’t meet safety requirements.
Eight persons were charged and detained in the case. They are: Yulia Bogdanova, CEO of the Kemerovsky Confectionary Combine, a company owning the mall, Tanziliya Komkova, chief of the region’s State Construction Inspection, a formal head of the mall’s owner company Georgy Sobolev; the mall’s manager Nadezhda Suddenok; CEO of the company System Integrator that developed the fire safety system Igor Polozinenko; an employee of the company, who personally installed the fire alarm Alexander Nikitin, a guard who allegedly turned off the emergency notification system when he received a fire signal Sergey Antyushin and fire team commander Sergey Genin, who was charged with negligence.
Moreover, on March 28, the court issued an arrest warrant for Ukrainian national Nikita Kuvikov known as pranker Yevgeny Volnov, who allegedly disinformed people of the death toll in the blaze, in absentia. He was charged with inciting hatred and enmity.
According to investigation, the pranker called medical settings and government agencies on the phone and distributed false information on the death toll in the accident in order to destabilize the situation. Reportedly, he said that about 300 people were killed by fire.