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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Investigators Target Fire Inspector Over Perm Blaze

Prosecutors investigating a Dec. 5 fire that killed at least 146 people in a Perm nightclub have added three more suspects to their case, including a local fire inspector who failed to close the nightclub during a visit nearly three years ago.

The Perm prosecutor's office said Sunday that local inspector Dmitry Roslyakov found seven fire safety violations, including a broken fire alarm and a blocked emergency exit, at the Khromaya Loshad (Lame Horse) nightclub in January 2007 but listed only two minor violations in his report.

Nightclub managing director Svetlana Yefremova, another suspect in the case, was fined for the violations, and the establishment was allowed to continue its work.

"As a result of Roslyakov's negligence on the job … the Khromaya Loshad continued its work with existing fire safety violations, which led to mass deaths in the Dec. 5 fire," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Prosecutors have requested the Investigative Committee to open a criminal case into Roslyakov.

The Investigative Committee on Friday opened criminal cases into the head of Perm's fire safety watchdog, Vladimir Mukhutdinov, and inspector Natalya Prokopyeva, who heads the watchdog's department in the Perm district where the nightclub is located.

Investigators said the two officials failed to detect numerous fire safety violations, noting that the nightclub was decorated with highly flammable materials that would produce a thick, toxic smoke if lit.

An indoor pyrotechnics show ignited artificial branches on the ceiling during celebrations for the club's eighth anniversary Dec. 5, causing a fire that sent 300 clubgoers stampeding to the club's single exit.

Charges have been filed against four suspects in the fire, including managing director Yefremova, nightclub owner Anatoly Zak, art director Oleg Fetkulov and Sergei Derbenyov, director of the Pirosvet pyrotechnics company, who installed the pyrotechnics blamed for the fire.

The charges carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Perm residents brought flowers and candles to the nightclub Sunday, the ninth day of mourning for the victims. The death toll grew by 11 people to 146 over the weekend, and more than 80 remained in hospitals late Sunday.

Perm's regional administration resigned en masse last week after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered withering criticism in connection with the fire. Perm Mayor Arkady Kats submitted his resignation to Perm lawmakers, who voted Friday to suspend him from office for one month as the investigation continues.

Meanwhile, fire safety checks of nightclubs and cafes ordered by Putin have resulted in the temporary closure of several popular places in Moscow. A total of 425 sites were checked in Moscow by the weekend, and five of them were closed, including Martinika for 90 days, Gloria Elite for 60 days, Up & Down and Blues-Tonn for 30 days and Dealit for 20 days, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. Forty-nine other establishments face temporary closure pending court decisions, and 360 fines were levied on various establishments, it said.

In St. Petersburg, 91 of 226 establishments have been checked, and the ministry has asked courts to temporarily close 14 of them.