MOSCOW, February 17 (RAPSI) – State Duma lawmakers have approved in the third and final reading amendments envisaging termination of provision of communication services in penitentiary facilities, according to the official database of the lower house of Russia’s Parliament.

The document stipulates that in case facts of use of cellphone subscriber numbers by detainees or convicts are detected, service providers are to cease to service such numbers after receiving a respective written decision issued by the head of the federal penitentiary authority, a deputy thereof, or the head of a regional penitentiary authority, depending in whose jurisdiction the respective facility is.

The measure is planned to clamp down on illegal call centers created and operated by convicts to defraud primarily the elderly and pensioners, Chair of Committee on Security and Anticorruption Vasily Piskarev believes. The new bill will also serve to cut supplies of drugs and other prohibited items to detainees; prevent witness tampering and coordination of actions of yet free coconspirators, as well as put an end to financing of criminal bosses in prisons, often carried out with the use of cellphones, the lawmaker observes.

Chair of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy Alexander Khinshtein, in turn, comments that the move has been developed since 2014, when the scale of the problem became clear. The next step, Khinshtein says, is the introduction of criminal responsibility for repeated smuggling of cellphones to penitentiary facilities, as the current punishment does not answer the danger such a deed poses to the society.