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Video of the accident shows that traffic lights had been red for more than five seconds before a Russian diplomat's car plowed into another vehicle at a Bishkek junction.

BISHKEK -- The widow of a Kyrgyz driver who was killed in a traffic accident involving a Russian diplomat says she will file a lawsuit against Russia's embassy in Bishkek.

The widow, Nelli Leksina, has refuted Kyrgyz state media reports claiming that the Russian Embassy had expressed condolences to her family and would pay the expenses for the funeral of her husband -- Aleksi Leksin.

She told RFE/RL on February 20 that the Russian Embassy did not offer any condolences and that all expenses for the funeral were being paid by her husband's employer.

On February 16, a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado registered with the Russian Embassy sped through a red light in Bishkek and smashed at high speed into the side of a Mercedes Sprinter van driven by Leksin.

Leksin died while being transported to a hospital from the scene of the accident.

Russian Embassy spokeswoman Darya Pakhomova told RFE/RL that the driver of the embassy's car was a Russian diplomat named Viktor Pukhov.

Video of the accident, filmed by a Kyrgyz driver in a third vehicle and posted to YouTube on February 16, shows that the traffic signal had been red for more than five seconds and that Leksin was already in the intersection when Pukhov sped through the red light and smashed into Leksin's van.

The video post raised a storm of complaints from social-media users in Kyrgyzstan, prompting Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry on February 17 to summon Russia's Charge d'Affaires Aleksei Mzareulov to discuss the fatal accident.

Pukhov was hospitalized with a dislocated pelvis.

RFE/RL Contributor Denies Russian 'Separatism' Charges
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Mykola Semena, an RFE/RL contributing reporter who faces separatist charges alleged by the Moscow-installed authorities in Ukraine’s Crimea region, has said he will file an appeal for all of the charges to be dropped when his trial begins.

A preliminary hearing into Semena’s case was postponed on February 17 and rescheduled for February 28 by a court in the Crimean capital of Simferopol.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service on February 17, Semena said his appeal will be based on both the norms of international law and Russian legislation.

He said he will argue that there is no evidence a crime was committed.

"The appeal will argue that the status of Crimea is not clear, even within the framework of the Russian Federation, and that this is a disputed territory which is the subject of an animated discussion all over the world," Semena said.

"Since this is the case, I have the right to participate in this discussion and express my point of view," Semena said.

Semena was detained in April and then released, but was ordered not to leave Crimea.

He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the separatism charges, which are based on an article he wrote on his blog that was critical of Moscow's 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

The United States, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and international media watchdogs have expressed concern over Semena's case.

Rights activists say the charges and trial are part of a Russian clampdown on independent media and dissent in Crimea.

Nina Ognianova, the Europe and Central Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said on February 16 that "criticizing authorities is not a crime."

Ognianova called on the region's Russia-backed authorities to "stop harassing journalists in Crimea."

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent has described the charges against Semena as "part of a concerted effort by Russian and Russian-backed authorities to obstruct RFE/RL's journalistic mission to provide an independent press to residents of Crimea."

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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