Russian authorities break up online community for pedophiles

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Russian authorities have arrested two men on suspicion of running an online community for pedophiles, the Russian League of Internet Security announced on Wednesday. The website had more than 100 members.

The League said the owner and administrator of the website have been arrested, although no details were given about the time and place of the arrests. The website had roughly 130 members, most of them from Russia, although some were from Germany, France, Israel and former Soviet nations.It is believed the website had been operating for several years, and members were required to submit self-made child pornography in order to become a member. Some of the members of the pedophile ring also met in person, including meetings outside of Russia.

The two men arrested, both Russian citizens, were taken into custody on charges of the production of child pornography and the sexual abuse of children. One of them led a boy’s choir at a local children’s art school, although officials did not say whether children at the school had been abused.

“We need to take urgent measures to strengthen legislation [to protect children] before it is too late,” a League official said. “Lately the internet has become a haven for pedophiles and perverts – all because of the weakness of Russian law to resolve these issues.”

The League also called on Russian authorities to put in place laws which allow websites featuring child pornography to be blocked. “In Western countries, websites with not only child pornography but also adult pornography are blocked,” the official said. “In Russia, at the present time there are no mechanisms in place to protect children.”

More than 9,500 sex crimes against children were reported in Russia in 2009, including more than 960 child rapes. Despite the authorities’ declared fight against the sexual abuse of minors, police are often slow to respond to allegations of child abuse, according to activists.

Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s Children Rights Commissioner to President Dmitri Medvedev, previously suggested the existence of a “pedophile lobby” in the country’s lower house of parliament, which he believes is responsible for blocking legislation against child sex abuse.

However, in October, the lower house of parliament approved a bill stipulating the voluntary chemical castration for pedophiles and other rapists. Such a chemical castration is carried out with a series of injections, which cause a drop in testosterone, the male hormone that causes the individual’s sex drive. However, the effect is not irreversible.

Laws regarding the possession of child pornography have also been under discussion for years. Russia is only one of two major countries in the world where the simple possession of child pornography is legal, although the production of it is illegal. The second country is Japan where it is legal to possess child pornography as long as there is no intend to sell or distribute the material.

The new bill which was passed in October also introduces a life sentence as a possible punishment for pedophiles who are repeat offenders. In addition, pedophiles are stripped of the right to plea for a suspended sentence.

Source: Channel 6 News