Today the mayor of the City of Pyatigorsk was arrested while undergoing treatment for his injuries in the emergency room. Mayor Tarasov is charged with driving recklessly and vehicular manslaughter, after the vehicle he was driving crashed head on into another car, killing five people.
While driving his Toyota Land Cruiser, Mayor Igor Tarasov sped recklessly into the oncoming lane of traffic to pass a slow-moving truck. Tarasov's SUV immediately collided with a Russian-made sedan. Of the sedan's occupants - a family of four and the son's fiancÃ© - two passengers and the driver died on impact. The other two passengers died in the local hospital a few hours later. The passengers in the Mayor's Land Cruiser fared better. After the collision, they ditched the injured Mayor, ignored the devastated family in the other car, and fled on foot.
While he is still in critical condition, the Mayor has now been charged with the worst criminal charge Russian drivers can face-- "Disobeying the traffic rules and the exploitation of the transport vehicle, causing the deaths of two or more people" (part 3 of Criminal Code article #264).
While ignoring speed limits and weaving in-and-out of oncoming traffic lanes are common habits among Russian drivers, government officials take the recklessness to another level and are quick to claim their legal immunity when accidents happen. This latest incident coincides with the fact that earlier this week, the Pyatigorsk City Court voted to fire the Mayor. This decision was based upon a legal ruling that the city government elections of July 31 were illegal and nullified. The City Parliament's terms had all expired on February 8 and even then the election of the Mayor saw many voting irregularities. The Mayor still hoped to win the case and considered himself Mayor while driving his vehicle into the oncoming lane.
Before his serving as Mayor, Tarasov was an advisor to Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. Given the ugliness of this case, it is unlikely that Kadyrov will spend political capital to bail out his former advisor or pull strings to get the Mayor pardoned.
At the moment, the Mayor's emergency room is guarded by police. Denying the criminal allegations issued against him, Tarasov says he can't remember anything from immediately before the accident. The only memory he has is of the Stavropol city Mayor helping him out of the mangled vehicle. It is still unclear what Stavropol's Mayor was doing at the scene, and why it was him (and not emergency services) helping Tarasov out of the car.