Russia has completed an investigation into a plane crash at a Moscow airport in May that killed 41 people, and plans to formally charge the pilot with causing death by negligence, the Kommersant business daily said.
Citing an unidentified source close to Russia's Investigative Committee, the state body that investigates major crimes, the paper said investigators had laid the blame at the door of pilot Denis Evdokimov without waiting for the final conclusions of the Interstate Aviation Committee.
Evdokimov denies the charges leveled against him, his lawyer, Natalia Mitusova, told Kommersant, adding that the defense's requests for independent examinations into the incident had been rejected.
Russia's Investigative Committee and operator Aeroflot did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment.
On May 5, a Sukhoi Superjet 100 operated by Aeroflot caught fire while making a bumpy emergency landing at Sheremetyevo airport, with television images showing it bouncing on the tarmac before its rear portion burst into flame.
Many aboard SU1492, flying from Moscow to the northern city of Murmansk, with 73 passengers and five crew, escaped using the aircraft's emergency slides that inflated after the hard landing.
In October, Svetlana Petrenko, an official representative of Russia's investigative panel, said Evdokimov had violated established rules, the state-run Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid reported.
"Further actions of Evdokimov to control the aircraft, carried out in violation of established rules, caused the destruction and igniting of the aircraft, resulting in the death of 40 passengers and one crew member," it had quoted Petrenko as saying.