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Drugs Added To Probe Of Deadly DUI Case Against Russian Actor, Kremlin Critic Yefremov

Actor Mikhail Yefremov after a hearing at a Moscow court on June 9.
Actor Mikhail Yefremov after a hearing at a Moscow court on June 9.

MOSCOW -- Investigators have added an "illegal drugs sales" probe to the high-profile case against Mikhail Yefremov, a well-known Russian actor who in recent years has criticized Kremlin politics in his one-man performances and now faces up to 12 years in prison for killing a person in an accident while he was driving under the influence.

A spokesman for the Moscow police, Vladimir Vasenin, said on June 10 that investigators are looking at "the fact of an illegal drugs purchase by the driver from unknown individuals," adding that the case against Yefremov has been sent to the Main Investigative Directorate of the Interior Ministry's Moscow office.

Earlier in the day, the Moscow prosecutor's office said that high levels of alcohol and drugs were discovered in Yefremov's blood samples.

Media reports quoted law enforcement officials as saying that, among other drugs, cocaine was found in the actor's blood.

Moscow police officials said on June 9 that Yefremov was drunk when he drove his Jeep Grand Cherokee at a high speed into an oncoming lane in central Moscow the previous evening, hitting another car. Yefremov did not suffer any injuries in the accident, while the driver of the other vehicle, identified as 57-year-old Sergei Zakharov, was rushed to hospital with multiple injuries and died hours later.

After Zakharov was pronounced dead, Yefremov was charged with "causing a deadly traffic accident while driving under the influence" and ordered not to leave Moscow.

A Moscow court ruled the same day that the actor must be held under house arrest until August 9.

Yefremov has pleaded guilty to the initial driving under the influence (DUI) charge and faces up to 12 years in prison for it. He has not reacted publicly to the new allegation.

Performances by the 56-year-old challenging President Vladimir Putin and his politics have been very popular in recent years.

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