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Russian Actor, Kremlin Critic Under House Arrest After Deadly Crash

Mikhail Yefremov performs in a play at a theater in Moscow on January 12.
Mikhail Yefremov performs in a play at a theater in Moscow on January 12.

Mikhail Yefremov, a well-known Russian actor who in recent years has criticized Kremlin politics in his stand-up performances, has been put under house arrest and faces up to 12 years in prison for killing a person in an accident while he was driving under the influence of alcohol.

A spokeswoman at the Moscow prosecutor's office, Lyudmila Nefyodova, said on June 10 that Yefremov was barred from leaving his home, using the telephone, the Internet, regular mail, and communicating with the media and individuals with the exception of close relatives, lawyers, and investigators.

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 leave Moscow.

Later on June 9, a Moscow court ruled that the actor must be held under house arrest until August 9. If found guilty, Yefremov faces up to 12 years in prison.

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

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Russian parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, on June 9 called for a parliamentary commission on anti-corruption efforts to watch the case in order to prevent "possible pressure on the investigation."

"The law is the same for all. Driving under the influence of alcohol is unacceptable. If it causes a death, no matter who was driving, the punishment must be the same -- up to 12 years in prison," Volodin said.

The widow of Sergei Zakharov said on a television program late on June 9 that she would like to see Yefremov sent to prison for the accident.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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