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Foreign trace in recent bomb scare in Belarus

Society 22.08.2019 | 12:46
The Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry. An archive photo
The Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry. An archive photo

MINSK, 22 August (BelTA) – False digital messages about planted bombs have been traced to foreign sources. The perpetrators use various tools to stay anonymous, BelTA learned from Kirill Vyatkin, Deputy Head of the Hi-Tech Crime Investigation Office of the Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry.

“Practice indicates that traces lead to foreign sources in every case. This is why international cooperation of law enforcement agencies of different countries plays an important role in finding out where the criminal act happened. Taking into account the geography of wrongful acts and the places they have been registered in, we are talking about neighboring countries and Western Europe,” Kirill Vyatkin said. In his words, the lawbreakers use Tor, VPN, anonymous email services, and proxy services. In some cases criminals resorted to VoIP telephony in order to hide their whereabouts.

False reports about danger have been submitted by the Orwell group in Ukraine. They were similar to the ones sent to Belarusian email addresses. The Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry is cooperating with Ukrainian colleagues on the case.

According to Deputy Head of the Central Office for Criminal Investigation of the Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry Maksim Svirid, the problem of danger reports became rampant in 2018-2019. However, no explosive devices were detected in the wake of these bomb threats in 2018-2019. Criminal cases were opened into every false danger report.

Maksim Svirid stressed that Belarusians should not ignore the bomb threats they may receive by email. Authorities should be contacted in such cases.

“Although a lot of resources are used to respond to such threats, we understand very well that the safety of citizens is the top priority in our work. This is why we stand ready. We are capable. We have enough resources and forces to adequately respond to such reports,” he stressed.

The officer went on saying that Belarusian police takes all the response measures in a way to minimize their impact on the affected organizations. While talking whether employees of such organizations have to leave their workplace for the sake of evacuation, Maksim Svirid reminded that administrative charges may be filed for failing to obey lawful instructions from police personnel.

Belarusian police is ready to handle several danger reports and examine more than ten sites simultaneously. “Police units and our colleagues have the resources to adequately respond to several reports like that. Citizens don't have to worry about that,” Maksim Svirid concluded.

On 19 August the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case in response to knowingly fraudulent danger reports. The reports from unknown parties claimed explosive devices had been planted in five hotels, the railway terminal, and the Minsk National Airport. Over 2,000 people had to be evacuated as a result. Bomb squads and investigators were dispatched to deal with the threats. No explosive devices were found. The hotels, the railway terminal, and the airport resumed work after that.

So far this year the Investigative Committee has opened 35 criminal cases in response to deliberately false danger reports. As many as 14 individuals involved in the crimes have been found. Guilty verdicts have been pronounced in six criminal cases.

False danger reports entail criminal prosecution starting at 14 years of age. Apart from that, the guilty parties have to compensate for the work emergency services have done to investigate the reports and examine the sites.

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