Politics

Syria main source of recent bomb hoaxes in Russia – police

The wave of bomb hoax calls in Russia that began in September and sparked numerous evacuations, inflicting multibillion-ruble damages, originated from terrorist-controlled territories in Syria, Russia’s deputy interior minister has said.

The main part of these calls was made from the places in Syria with a high concentration of terrorists,” Igor Zubov was quoted as saying by Interfax. “Judging from their intensity, we can say that this was a cyberattack on the territory of the Russian Federation,” he added.

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The deputy minister said that “telephone terrorists” also made calls from Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He told reporters that the combined damages from the “cyberattacks” amounted to several billion rubles.

In recent months, Russia has been hit by a wave of bomb hoax calls. They began on September 11 and have caused the evacuation of over 2.3 million people from various buildings in 186 towns and cities. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) estimates the losses caused by the threats at about 150 million rubles (over $2.54 million). FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov told reporters in October that the agency had established that the fake calls had all been traced to four Russian citizens who reside abroad, but did not mention the exact country.

In early December, the Russian lower house passed in the first reading a bill ordering a penalty of five to 10 years behind bars for fake terrorist threat phone calls. The motion’s sponsors emphasized that it had been prepared and drafted as a reply to the bomb hoaxes and one of them, MP Vasily Piskaryov, told reporters that he expected the bill to be passed before the end of the year.

On December 5, President Vladimir Putin signed a law ordering communications companies to block calls from so-called ‘telephone terrorists’ at the request of law enforcement agencies without a court warrant.

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