Over 200 local residents in the city of Blagoveshchensk kept a house of a suspected pedophile under siege for six hours early on Friday after a report that he had sexually assaulted a seven-year-old girl, police said.
The mother of the girl had reported the incident on Thursday and investigators were conducting a search in the suspect’s house when a lynch mob surrounded the building shouting demands to carry out a “fair justice.”
“Investigators attempted to move the suspect out of the house, but the crowd wouldn’t let them do it. They had to call in riot police,” said Alexei Lubinsky, a senior regional police official.
The negotiations between police and residents continued for almost six hours and ended in a deadlock. Police had to disguise the suspect as one of their own to sneak him out of the house for further questioning.
According to preliminary investigation, the suspect lured on Tuesday two girls to the riverbank where he sexually abused one of them.
“The man threatened the girl and attempted to strangle her,” Lubinsky said.
The Russian authorities have long declared a fight against sexual abuses of minors, but its results seem to have been insignificant. Activists claim that police are often slow to respond to allegations of child abuse, and in some cases even ignore reports.
More than 9,500 sexual crimes against children were committed in Russia in 2009 alone, including over 960 rapes.
Russia’s ombudsmen for children’s rights, Pavel Astakhov, has suggested the existence of a “pedophile lobby” in the State Duma, the country’s lower house of parliament. He said such a lobby may be responsible for blocking legislation to help tackle the sexual abuse of minors.
However, a recent bill – yet to be passed – introduces life sentence as a possible punishment for pedophiles who are repeat offenders. It also stipulates voluntary medical treatment, including chemical castration, for other rapists.