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Witness Says Russian Actor And Kremlin Critic Yefremov Was Not Alone In Car During Deadly Accident

Mikhail Yefremov arrives at a Moscow court on August 20.
Mikhail Yefremov arrives at a Moscow court on August 20.

A defense witness in the high-profile trial of Russian actor Mikhail Yefremov, an outspoken Kremlin critic who is charged with killing a person while driving under the influence of alcohol, says the actor was not alone in the car at the time of the accident.

Tevan Badasyan said at Moscow's Presnensky district court on August 31 that he saw "a tall man wearing a baseball hat getting in Yefremov's car just minutes before the accident."

"The man was seated in the rear seat and there was nobody on the front seats of the car," Badasyan said, adding that the car was parked near the “Uliss” bar and had a special license plate which he remembered and later turned out to be Yefremov's car.

On August 20, another witness, Aleksandr Kobets, testified that another person was driving Yefremov's car when it collided with a vehicle in an oncoming lane.

Yefremov again on August 31 asked the Judge Yelena Abramova to allow him to be treated by psychiatrists in order to recall all of the details of what happened in the June 8 high-speed collision.

The judge rejected the request.

Yefremov’s trial started on August 5. He pleaded not guilty, saying "I do not remember anything."

On August 11, the judge had to stop the trial after an ambulance was called to the courtroom to treat Yefremov who felt unwell.

If convicted, Yefremov, who in recent years has criticized the Kremlin in his one-man performances, faces up to 12 years in prison.

Police say Yefremov was inebriated when he drove his car at a high speed into an oncoming lane in central Moscow on the evening of June 8, hitting another car.

Yefremov did not suffer any injuries in the accident, but 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 later placed under house arrest.

Authorities later said that medical tests confirmed that Yefremov had traces of drugs, including cocaine, in his blood at the moment of the accident.

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

With reporting by TASS and Interfax

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