YEKATERINBURG, Russia -- A Russian governor has been hospitalized in serious condition after a fatal three-car accident in south-central Russia, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
The driver of one of the cars that collided with Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Misharin's vehicle died in the accident. Misharin and his driver survived the December 1 accident but were taken to hospital in critical condition.
Misharin's press secretary, Ilya Ananyev, told RFE/RL that his boss sustained numerous fractures and head and facial injuries. He said Misharin may have to remain in the hospital for three months.
"I met the ambulance last night that brought Aleksandr Sergeyevich [Misharin] from the scene of the accident," Ananyev said. "It was a horrific experience. He was operated on by surgeons and his current condition is stable but serious."
Misharin, 41, took office in 2009 after the resignation of longtime Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel.
Federal Security Service (FSB) officers began an investigation of the crash but then ceded responsibility to the regional investigative directorate. Investigators classified the case as "a violation of traffic regulations with a lethal outcome."
Aleksandr Shulga, a member of the regional investigative directorate, told RFE/RL that Misharin's car was on the correct side of the road when the accident occurred.
"Most likely very bad weather was the main cause of what happened," he said. "Visibility was very poor as it was snowing and mud was being thrown from the wheels of other cars, hitting the windshield. Possible technical problems with the other cars involved in the crash might also have triggered the accident. We are now following different leads."
The office of the Sverdlovsk Oblast ombudsman on December 2 called for creating a public committee to monitor the investigation of the Sverdlovsk accident.
Sverdlovsk Oblast Prime Minister Anatoly Gredin will stand in for Misharin until he recovers.
Investigations of fatal traffic accidents in Russia involving the cars of top officials or executives have been a regular occurrence, with a number of major cases exonerating high-profile personalities.
In February 2010, the car of oil giant LUKoil's vice president, Anatoly Barkov, collided with another car, killing both women inside. The police blamed the driver of the other car
for that accident despite eyewitnesses' statements suggesting Barkov's car was driving in the lane designated for oncoming traffic.
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