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Court Asked to Close 54 Clubs

Policemen and fire-safety inspectors conducting a check of a computer games room in Divnogorsk on Monday. Ilya Naymushin

Moscow’s fire safety watchdog asked a court to shut down 54 local nightclubs and cafes after checks showed that there had been numerous fire safety violations, Oleg Naidyonkov, head of the fire safety watchdog, said Monday.

“In the first ten days [of December] alone, we checked 450 such facilities, a decision to suspend 54 of them was made and the materials were sent to the courts,” Naidyonkov said, Interfax reported. The web site of the Prosecutor General’s Office indicated that 425 facilities had been inspected.

The Emergency Situations Ministry started fire safety checks in Moscow and St. Petersburg nightclubs and cafes after at least 146 people died in a fire at the Khromaya Loshad (Lame Horse) nightclub in Perm earlier this month.

“The results of the surprise inspections are showing their effectiveness,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement posted on its web site.

The checks have already resulted in closures of five Moscow facilities: Martinika was shut down for 90 days, Gloria Elite for 60 days, Up & Down and Blues-Tonn for 30 days and Dialit for 20 days.

Dialit’s owners said the closures were illegal, however.

“I think that our cafe has been closed illegally. We were not warned about the check in advance. Besides, the cafe has been under repair since July, and there have been no visitors there,” Dialit owner Yelena Shaderova told The Moscow Times.

Among the violations found at Dialit were a lack of a fire alarm, bars covering the windows and construction materials blocking walkways, Shaderova said. She added that she would file a complaint to the prosecutor’s office after the cafe resumes operation.

Under current legislation, an inspector must warn the owner three days ahead of a check, but the Emergency Situations Ministry has said unusual measures are currently called for.

“Today, when an emergency requires extreme measures, an unexpected visit by the inspector can reveal numerous violations while there is a show going on,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has supported the Emergency Situations Ministry’s bid to toughen the penalties for those who fail to meet the fire safety guidelines.

“The punishments are only part of the problem, but a very important component,” First Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman told reporters Monday.

He also added that the punishment for violations should be “adequate and commensurate with the size of the violation.”

Among the nightclubs that have come under fire since the inspections began are popular Moscow clubs B2 and IKRA.

“We’ve fixed small violations revealed during the check. The nightclub is now working as normal,” said Svetlana Morozova, CEO at IKRA.

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