Pro-Kremlin party throws support behind driver accused in Mikhail Yevdokimov’s death

The pro-Kremlin United Russia party on Friday threw its support behind a driver who was sentenced to four years in internal exile for his role in the death of a regional governor in a road accident.

"The sentence for (Oleg) Shcherbinsky casts doubt on citizens' certainty of the justness of judicial authorities in defending their interests," United Russia said in a press release.

Mikhail Yevdokimov, the comedian-turned-governor of the Altai region of Siberia, was killed last August when the car he was riding in smashed into a tree after colliding with the car driven by Shcherbinsky. Yevdokimov's driver and bodyguard also were killed, and the governor's wife was seriously injured.

Shcherbinsky was found guilty of traffic violations leading to the deaths of two or more people, although he alleged that the governor was traveling at least 200 kilometers (125 miles) an hour and he had no time to change course.

The conviction led to public outrage, sparking drivers' protests in dozens of Russian cities. United Russia said that its regional branch in Altai, the Siberian province where Shcherbinsky was convicted, had asked the party's parliamentary faction to introduce amendments to legislation on government and other vehicles outfitted with special licenses and flashing lights.

Those cars have priority on Russian roads and other drivers complain that they often cause accidents as they weave in and out of traffic.

Shcherbinsky's appeal of his sentence, which requires him to live in a remote settlement, is scheduled for next Thursday, reports the AP.


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