Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, August 9

© Alex StefflerRussian Press - Behind the Headlines, August 9
Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, August 9 - Sputnik International
Children Kept in Underground Bunker for a Decade by Muslim Sect \ Russian Security Agencies Need UAVs That Can Fly in Through Windows \ Handguns for Russians: New Amendment to Legalizing Short-Barreled Weapons

Moskovsky Komsomolets

Children Kept in Underground Bunker for a Decade by Muslim Sect

An underground sect has been discovered in Russia’s Muslim region of Tatarstan after nearly a decade of living in dismal conditions crammed in a bunker without heat, sunlight or proper food together with their children.

The children were deprived of healthcare or education and generally discouraged from any contacts with outsiders. Sexual activity was encouraged, however: a 17-year-old girl turned out to be pregnant.

The sect was founded in 1964 by its 85-year-old leader Fayzrahman Satarov, who declared himself a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state. In 1996 he bought land on the outskirts of the region’s capital, Kazan, where he built a madrasah (a religious school) with an eight-level basement which included multiple cells without natural light or ventilation. The density of the bunker’s population reached three people per square meter.

About 70 of Satarov’s followers cloistered themselves in it nearly a decade ago and declared themselves an Islamic caliphate. All of them, including children, avoided contacts with the outside world until the police launched an investigation into the sect’s illegal activity and discovered their dwelling. Satarov is charged with forcible assertion of private right, and three parents are being prosecuted for neglect of minors.

According to Guzel Udachina, a spokesperson for the local office of the ombudsman for children’s rights, all of the children who were kept in the bunker have parents. Ten children aged between six months and three years, and five young mothers (one of them a teenager) have been hospitalized for health checks.

Some of the children in the sect came from other cities, and many of them have no documents.

Older children, aged 7 to 12, were placed in institutional care as required by the law if it is determined that there is a threat to their lives and health in their families.

“A child involved in a sect becomes a hostage and his or her life is at risk,” said Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Pavel Astakhov. “This violates nearly every one of the child’s rights – to health, education and normal development. Unfortunately, the victims’ rehabilitation usually takes a long time and requires professional assistance. The parents will have to undergo the required treatment before they are allowed to visit their children.

The Fayzarahmanist mosque is not recognized by Tatarstan’s Muslim authority and is registered as a private building.


Russian Security Agencies Need UAVs That Can Fly in Through Windows

Russia will develop new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), since existing ones do not fully meet the requirements of the emergency, interior and security agencies, the Industry Ministry’s aviation department told the media.

UAVs have many applications, ranging from military and intelligence operations to disaster relief, rescue efforts and monitoring of natural phenomena. In combat conditions using unmanned devices can save time and lives.

There are four types of UAV depending on weight – micro (under 10 kg, under 1 hour of flying), mini, medium and heavy (over 1 metric ton, over 24 hours flying time).

All of them require open space for takeoff, the use of boosters and other launch facilities. A lot of time is lost in the search and repair of used devices. They also have limited possibilities for flying in urban environments and in mountainous and forest areas, a ministry representative said.

“Vertical takeoff and landing should solve these problems,” the source added.

He said all the immediate-response services are pinning great hopes on this project. The new UAVs can be launched from woods, gorges, caves and even from inside buildings. They will come in different shapes, from the classic aircraft outline to spherical ones or “buckets” with a propeller inside.

The sphere option will be good for intelligence and security applications, due to its low detectability by radar equipment.

“A lack of stable financing may seal Russia’s backwardness in this sector,” the source said.

Other countries have been working on such UAVs for the past 10-15 years. More than 50 devices produced by U.S. company Honeywell are being used in Afghanistan. One of them, the T-Hawk, was used in Japan after the Fukushima nuclear accident to beam back images of the damaged and contaminated areas.

A Honeywell source said these devices can be used for rescue operations in hard to reach areas.

The device was designed jointly with DARPA (a Pentagon division) and is dubbed Flying Can, a Honeywell representative said. It is smaller than conventional UAVs and weighs only 7.7 kg. At the same time, it can fly for 1.5 hours and can be used inside buildings.

Another producer, Aerovel, is working on its Flexrotor UAV for the U.S. Navy. It can take off like a helicopter while having the aerodynamics of a jet plane.

“We have someone who invented a similar device. Only it has no flight control system and flies on a leash,” said Amir Valiyev, head of the Moscow company AFM-Servers, which provides remote diagnostics and cartography services. “Honeywell’s device has the design advantage that all the equipment is hidden inside. It can hit objects without damage. It can fly through windows and operate inside rooms.”

Irkut Engineering, Russia’s main state-controlled designer of UAVs, could not be reached for comment.

Moskovskiye Novosti

Handguns for Russians: New Amendment to Legalizing Short-Barreled Weapons

Up to 10 million handguns are expected to be purchased once the ban on possession is lifted.

State Duma deputies Sergei Ivanov and Vladimir Semenov from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia have introduced amendments to the weapons law, which will legalize the use of handguns for self-defense. The amendments were introduced on August 7 and will be considered by the State Duma as early as the fall session.

The current law allows individuals to own and use long-barreled guns for self-defense. However, using these weapons is highly inconvenient, the bill’s authors believe. In the midst of a break-in, a resident would have little time to take a gun out of a safe, remove the covers, and assemble it. Whereas, a short-barreled weapon like a pistol or a revolver is much more convenient and easy to handle, and can hold more ammunition. Plus, handguns are much less powerful than rifles or shotguns.

Ivanov and Semenov have modeled their amendment on existing sport-gun legislation, which allows individuals to own smooth-bore (shot) guns from the age of 18, and rifles from the age of 23.

Under the proposed amendments, individuals, who have reached the age of 23 and have no mental disorder or drug abuse record, would be eligible to own a handgun. They would be required to apply for a police license to purchase and store a short-barreled weapon at home. They could use the weapon for self-defense in a case of illegal entry at their residence and if their life is in danger.

The authors of the bill also suggest limiting the fire power of the legalized weapons to 300 joules. This would ensure that only a few and relatively less powerful revolvers and pistols would qualify as legal self-defense weapons.

Initiatives to legalize handgun possession have been periodically floated in Russia. However, they have always received a mixed reaction from the public. Many people are afraid that legalizing handguns will result in a higher crime rate.

These concerns are shared by Russia’s law enforcement agencies, which have been categorically opposed to the legalization of handguns, citing a high crime rate and the potential for the weapons being used by mentally unstable individuals. They assert that legalizing handguns is unnecessary as there are a sufficient number of alternatives that can be used for self-defense.

The initiative is supported by Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council, Alexander Torshin, a long-time proponent of handgun legalization. He is the author of a report that was presented at the Federation Council in late July, justifying the legalization of short-barreled weapons in Russia. According to Torshin, a bill legalizing such weapons is ready, but will be submitted to the parliament when it has been completely finalized. He expects this to happen no sooner than early 2013 and believes that as many as 10 million people will be interested in owning a handgun once they are legal.

RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.


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