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Senior Police Official Is Linked to Car Accident

Officials' cars with migalki, or flashing blue lights, have been blamed in a rash of recent traffic accidents. Y. Kuzmina

The Interior Ministry acknowledged on Tuesday that a car owned by Deputy Interior Minister Mikhail Sukhodolsky was in the vicinity of a crash that injured a woman, but it denied that the car was responsible for the accident.

A Cadillac Escalade, from a cortege equipped with flashing blue lights, rammed into a Mitsubishi Lancer driven by 35-year-old Moscow resident Natalya Brezhneva after two cars from the procession crossed into the oncoming lane on a highway in the Moscow region on Monday, reported.

Brezhneva was hospitalized with a concussion, a pelvic fracture and a bruised shoulder, the report said.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Sukhodolsky's car was present at the time of the crash on the 31st kilometer of Kaluzhskoye Shosse but wasn't involved. In fact, it said, Sukhodolsky's driver returned to the site of the crash and provided unspecified assistance to people involved in the incident.

The statement did not say whether the Cadillac was accompanying Sukhodolsky's car or just passing by.

The Cadillac was "assigned to" Sukhodolsky, an official in the Interior Ministry's department of state protection of property told

But a spokesman for the department, Vladimir Pushkaryov, said by telephone that the car could not have escorted Sukhodolsky because the department's cars only escort cargo.

Only traffic police cars are allowed to escort Interior Ministry officials.

An eyewitness of the accident said Sukhodolsky's driver removed the flashing blue lights from his car before returning to the scene of the crash, while the Cadillac driver took the license plates off his car, reported.

In addition, a senior Interior Ministry official, Colonel Vitaly Semenenko, contacted Brezhneva's relatives and arranged to bring her car in for repairs and cover all repair expenses, reported.

The Cadillac driver was drunk, Rosbalt reported, citing a spokeswoman for the Moscow region branch of the Investigative Committee, Yulia Zhukova. But Zhukova denied the report when reached by telephone Tuesday.

Repeated calls to the press office of the Moscow region traffic police went unanswered Tuesday.

Officials' cars with flashing blue lights have been involved in a series of traffic accidents in recent months, prompting outraged drivers to call for severe restrictions on using the lights or their outright ban.

The flashing lights, which allow the cars to break traffic rules, also have been blamed for contributing to Moscow's notoriously bad traffic jams.

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