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Russia moving to toughen carjack penalties

MOSCOW, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Russian lawmakers say they are working on legislation that would toughen the penalties for carjacking, which is increasingly perpetrated by organized crime.

The proposal in the Duma would boost the maximum penalty from seven years to 15 years in prison and would rule out the option of a suspended sentence by classifying carjacking as a "grave" crime.

Vyacheslav Lysakov, first deputy chairman of the Duma committee working on the bill, told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency the measure would go before the committee next month.

Carjacking has become a lucrative enterprise for organized crime gangs in Russia.

Lysakov told Itar-Tass suspects frequently are given suspended sentences and modest fines.

"If we make (carjacking) a grave crime, the judge will have to produce the ironclad arguments for a suspended sentence. It will be really hard to do," Lysakov said.