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Poland Extradites Owner Of Russian Shopping Mall Where 60 People Died

Vyacheslav Vishnevsky is detained in Kaliningrad on March 24.
Vyacheslav Vishnevsky is detained in Kaliningrad on March 24.

Poland extradited the co-owner of a Siberian shopping mall to Russia to face bribery charges on the eve of the second anniversary of a fire at the mall that killed 60 people.

On March 24, Vyacheslav Vishnevsky, who is an executive of a company that co-owns the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) mall in Kemerovo, was sent to a pretrial detention facility in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, local news agencies reported.

He must spend 14 days in quarantine because of concern over the spread of the coronavirus.

Vishnevsky is suspected of paying 7 million rubles ($88,800) during construction of the mall to receive permission for it to open, according to the press service of Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office. The transaction was disguised as a payment for services provided, the press service said.

Vishnevsky fled to Poland amid a preliminary investigation into the March 25, 2018, fire that engulfed the shopping mall. More than half of the 60 people killed were children trapped inside a move theater.

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Prosecutors also said he is under investigation in relation to the fire without specifying in what capacity and on what possible charges.

Polish authorities apprehended him on an international arrest warrant in March 2019.

According to Russia's Investigative Committee, officials at the Emergency Ministry’s regional branch and others responsible for permits and inspections didn’t properly review the mall’s compliance with fire-safety requirements.

Days after the fire, investigators said that blocked fire exits, an alarm system that was turned off, and "glaring violations" of safety rules before the blaze started led to the high death toll.

Residents, relatives of the victims, and Russians nationwide blamed corruption and government negligence for the high number of casualties in the blaze.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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