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Prosecutor Seeks Lengthy Prison Terms For Deadly Siberian Mall Fire

Sixty people died in the 2018 fire at a shopping mall in Kemerovo, including 37 children.
Sixty people died in the 2018 fire at a shopping mall in Kemerovo, including 37 children.

KEMEROVO, Russia -- The prosecutor in the high-profile case of a deadly mall fire in 2018 in Siberia has asked a court to sentence eight defendants to prison terms between five years and 14 1/2 years.

Prosecutor Aleksandr Korobeinikov asked the Zavodskoi district court in the city of Kemerovo on May 12 to hand the longest sentence to Yulia Bogdanova, former director of a company that owned the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) mall in the city, where a fire killed 60 people, including 37 children, in March 2018.

The prosecutor also asked the court to sentence former mall manager Nadezhda Suddenok and the mall's former technical director, Georgy Sobolev, to 14 years and 13 years in prison, respectively.

Korobeinikov asked that Igor Polozinenko, the chief of a company that installed a fire alarm system in the mall, and his assistant, Aleksandr Nikitin, get 6 years and 8 months and 5 1/2 years in prison, respectively.

The prosecutor asked the court to sentence Andrey Bursin and Sergei Genin, the individuals who led firefighting operations at the blaze, to six and five years in prison, respectively.

All of the defendants were charged with violating fire safety rules and negligence that led to human loss of life.

Bogdanova, Suddenok, and Sobolev pleaded partially guilty, while 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 last in a long series of disasters caused or exacerbated by the corrosively deadly effects of negligence, carelessness, corruption, corner-cutting, and crumbling infrastructure.

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

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.

A total of 16 people, including leaders of the regional Emergency Ministry and officials who had approved the mall's operations, have been charged with crimes that investigators say led to or aggravated the tragedy.

With reporting by Meduza

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