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    Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, January 25

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    Grown-up Punishment for Minors / Writer and Politician Eduard Limonov Talks to Izvestia about Mali Crisis / Criminal Case Opened Against Major Fruit Importer


    Grown-up Punishment for Minors

    The State Duma may lower the age of criminal responsibility in Russia to 12. United Russia members plan to open a dialog on the issue with psychologists, teachers and other experts during the spring session.

    The minimum age of criminal responsibility is currently 16, which seems too high for Vladimir Ponevezhsky, member of the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation.

    “We have been discussing a lower age since last fall when several incidents occurred involving children aged 13 and 14. They committed severe crimes, even murders, but were too young to be tried in court,” Ponevezhsky told Kommersant.

    The idea is not to hold children liable for all the offences in the Criminal Code but for three or four severe crimes like murder, fatal bodily injury, terrorist activities and participating in armed gangs. These would be preventive measures because occasionally, children are deliberately involved by criminals to commit offences they would not be punishable for due to their age.

    Although the discussion has been ongoing since last year, it has not brought any tangible results in the form of a draft law. Another member of the committee, Vladimir Pligin, says any bill would require a detailed expert evaluation by psychologists and teachers. It is worth looking into the experience of foreign countries where the age of accountability is below 12. More importantly, the practice of “closed schools” for underage offenders in Russia may provide an understanding of how efficient the isolation of minors can be in preventing repeated offences.

    “The risk of child repeat offenders is very high,” says children’s right ombudsman in Moscow, Yevgeny Bunimovich. “But stiffening the penalties will lead nowhere.”

    He explains that “the correctional institutions in this country, unfortunately, only produce more criminals.” Instead of lowering the minimum age of responsibility, policy changes should be made at these institutions and “closed schools” that would actually help young offenders start a new life.
    While referring to the foreign experience, deputies shudder to think of juvenile delinquency, says psychologist Lyudmila Petranovskaya. Juvenile delinquency is mainly associated with a child’s right to request protection from abusive parents or the right of the government to deprive such parents of parental rights. Juvenile delinquency is in fact a legal process that deals with juveniles and prescribes specific procedures for underage criminals that include correctional measures rather than punishment.

    During the third and fourth convocations of the State Duma, United Russia member Yekaterina Lakhova was pushing forward a juvenile delinquency bill. Last December she strongly supported the Dima Yakovlev Law. Enforcing adult punishment for minor children may be the next step.

    “It looks like after the Dima Yakovlev Law, a copy machine went crazy, looking for something else to print,” says Petranovskaya.


    Writer and Politician Eduard Limonov Talks to Izvestia about Mali Crisis

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Arab Spring shattered security in North Africa, referring to the instability in Mali.
    Well, she lied because the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt did not lead to an expansion of the Islamic revolution movement through North Africa. Just like white-hot lava, it is pouring in from Libya which had no Arab Spring at all. That country went through a civil war instigated by the West aimed at overthrowing Gaddafi’s socialist regime.

    As Clinton spoke of Benghazi in September 2012 when the US Ambassador was killed, she had to admit Libya was the source from whence the Islamic revolution was spilling over into Mali and Algeria.

    American minds think in terms of comic books. They seem to have been awed, a decade ago, by fantasy villain Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the one-eyed Taliban leader. But life isn’t a comic book.

    A week ago, armed Islamists marched steadily across Mali while the army just watched. France had to intervene, being the gendarme of North and Central Africa, and here we are, witnessing yet another international conflict.

    France sent over 2,000 troops and has plans to send more. As a result of its activity, supported by other European countries, a peaceful Libya turned into a permanent war zone with tensions and a haunt for various radical Islamist groups.

    Once they won, Libya seemed too small a place for all of them, so they started looking to free some space. Algeria proved too tough, with a strongly anti-Islamist government which never thought twice before suppressing its own Islamists who won a parliamentary majority. The militants who attacked the In Amenas gas plant were also ruthlessly put down.

    So they went into Mali instead. Although France is trying to repair the consequences of its policy in Libya, it is suffering high casualties. Islamic revolutionaries have been hardened by fighting in Libya and Iraq and they have powerful religious motivation. Several hundred French paratroopers are not going to stop this avalanche. They have resolve and no fear of death.

    Western countries will probably have to form a coalition to fight in Mali. The United States, now busy directing the civil war in Syria, will also help.
    The Islamic revolution movement would not have invaded Africa had it not been for erroneous European and US foreign policies. Their irrational hatred of remnant socialist regimes has led to the emergence of Islamic states in Europe – Bosnia and Kosovo. By destroying Libya, the West created a bubbling lake of revolution which is already starting to flood Africa.

    What happens after the Syrian regime falls? It can be predicted with high probability that secular states in the region will be razed. Lebanon will fall and Jordan will erupt in unrest and collapse before too long. Israel will live in permanent fear of aggressive Islamist Syria in the north, Hamas in Gaza and the East Bank, and will have Jordan flaring on its border.

    Criminal Case Opened Against Major Fruit Importer

    On January 24, investigators from the Russian Interior Ministry’s St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Police Department searched the office of Mikhailovsky Theater General Director Vladimir Kekhman, who is also the Director General  of the major fruit importer, JFC Group. Kekhman is also the majority shareholder of the company. Corporate warehouses were also searched. Moreover, the authorities have frozen about 400 million rubles ($13.3 million) in JFC assets. Interior Ministry officials are investigating fraud, a ministry spokesperson noted.

    Investigators say several top JFC executives and shareholders took out large loans from major banks in 2010-2012 under the pretext of fulfilling contracts with front and affiliated companies. In February 2012, top JFC managers who allegedly wanted to avoid repaying their loans filed for bankruptcy with a commercial court. Creditors have lost over 10 billion roubles ($332.2 million), investigators say.

    The criminal case was opened at the request of JFC’s primary creditors, including Sberbank, the Bank of Moscow, Raiffeisen Bank and Uralsib.

    Three major fruit companies, JFC, Sunway and Sorus, had accounted for up to 70 percent of fruit imports prior to the 2008 financial and economic crisis. JFC’s rivals went bankrupt after 2008, and JFC faced its first problems a year ago. JFC, which went into receivership in the spring of 2012, owes 15.8 billion rubles ($525 million) to creditors.

    The High Court of Justice in London ruled that Kekhman was bankrupt in the fall of 2012.

    A former JFC top manager told the newspaper that Kekhman had always controlled the company’s operations, that he was fully aware of its financial standing, and that all transactions had been concluded with his knowledge.

    Kekhman issued  a statement saying he was outraged by the scale of corporate fraud and voiced his willingness to cooperate with law-enforcement officials.

    Lawyer Svetlana Tarnopolskaya said banks typically checked the financial standing of their borrowers very carefully and that they also demand collateral before approving a loan. For these reasons loans are rarely used for fraud, she noted. She said it’s difficult to prove a borrower’s intent not to repay a loan. Consequently, it’s hard to bring the borrower to account, Tarnopolskaya said.

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

    Saint Petersburg, Hillary Clinton, Dima Yakovlev Law, children, murder, Joint Fruit Company (JFC), State Duma, United Russia, Yekaterina Lakhova, Vladimir Ponevezhsky, Vladimir Pligin, Eduard Limonov, Mali, Benghazi, Libya
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