Eight people convicted of deadly Siberian shopping mall fire


KEMEROVO, Russia – A Siberian court has found a group of eight people guilty of negligence in a 2018 fire in the city of Kemerovo that killed 60 people, including 37 children.

Zavodskoi District Court found on September 30 the former director of a company that owns the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) shopping center, Yulia Bogdanova; the former director of shopping center Nadezhda Suddenok; the former technical director of the shopping center, Georgy Sobolev; and the mall’s former security guard Sergei Antyushin, who was found guilty of providing unsafe services that resulted in the deaths of customers.

In addition, he also found the head of a company that installed the fire alarm system in the shopping center, Igor Polozinenko; his assistant, Alexandre Nikitine; and firefighters Andrei Bursin and Sergei Genin guilty of negligence in the fire.

The tribunal started to pronounce verdicts and sentences on September 30 The process can take several days to complete.

In May, a prosecutor asked the court to sentence the eight defendants to prison terms ranging from five years to 14 and a half years.

Bogdanova and Sobolev pleaded partially guilty, while the others pleaded not guilty.

The 2018 fire was one of the deadliest in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

It was the latest in a long line of disasters caused or exacerbated by the corrosive and deadly effects of neglect, recklessness, corruption, embezzlement and crumbling infrastructure.

Residents, relatives of the victims and Russians across the country blamed corruption and government neglect for the high death toll.

Days after the blaze, investigators said blocked emergency exits, a deactivated alarm system and “flagrant violations” of safety rules before the blaze started resulted in a high death toll.

A total of 16 people, including officials from the regional Emergency Situations Ministry and officials who approved the mall’s operations, have been charged with crimes which investigators say either led or aggravated the tragedy.

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