More than 1,000 people have petitioned the State Duma and the Federation Council demanding that the authorities impose criminal penalties on those who spread false information about the tragedy in Magnitogorsk. The appeal to the Russian Federal Assembly’s chambers was published on the web portal change.org.
«The tragedy in Magnitogorsk shocked millions of Russians. The New Year holidays gave way to tears and mourning in the blink of an eye. The tragedy was exploited by a cynical huckster of fake news, Ukrainian pranker Yevgeny Volnov,» said the author of the petition, Artyom Soldatenkov.
The pranker, who pretended to be an Emergencies Ministry employee, «called up residents of multiple dwellings on Karl Marx Street in Magnitogorsk and said that terror attacks were about to be committed in Magnitogorsk,» in addition he requested that they warn their neighbors about it, Soldatenkov said.
«This is not the first stunt by the Ukrainian pranker,» he pointed out, noting that the Ukrainian made up a fake news story falsifying the number of people killed in the Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping mall fire in Kemerovo, by inflating it to 300. «Unfortunately, Volnov was not held accountable for his actions, and his YouTube channel continues to broadcast on Russian territory as well,» TASS quoted the activist as saying.
These sorts of stunts could lead to mass panic and victims, the petition says. «In light of this great public danger, we demand that law enforcement bodies hold all people involved in disseminating false information about the tragedy in Magnitogorsk accountable! They should not feel that they can get away with this and get off scot-free this time as well!» the document stressed.
«We demand that those who circulate such fake news be held criminally responsible,» the initiator concluded.
On the morning of December 31, a section of a 10-storey apartment block in Magnitogorsk collapsed, killing 39 people. Eighteen people were rescued in the first hours following the collapse, and six more, including two children, were rescued by Emergencies Ministry employees while clearing the debris. The search and rescue operation lasted four days. According to preliminary information, the collapse was caused by a domestic gas explosion.