Suleyman Kerimov is a Member of Parliament for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, headed by Duma's most scandalous leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Mr. Kerimov, with an estimated net worth of $7.1 billion, is also ranked number 72 on the Forbes list of the world's richest individuals. Kerimov is the owner of "Nafta-Moskva", an oil trading company, and he also is involved in many other large Russian businesses. Even though the Russian Parliament (Duma) is in session right now, this did not prevent Mr. Kerimov from retreating to his villa in the south of France. Mr. Kerimov wanted to relax after a stressful week of buying major stakes in Moscow's booming hotel industry.
While speeding through Nice's English Promenade (where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour) in his black Ferrari Enzo, Mr. Kerimov lost control of his vehicle, hit the curb and crashed into a tree. The car was torn apart and the fuel tank exploded upon impact. According to Nice Matin, Mr. Kerimov is currently in coma with burns over 70% of his body.
The Ferrari Enzo is a highly customized collection vehicle with a price tag of one million dollars; there are only few of them in the world. Enzo owners are known for pursuing extreme speeds, and Mr. Karimov is the fourth Enzo driver to suffer a major accident in the last three months. In the last major Ferrari Enzo crash, the driver wrecked his car after topping 163 miles per hour in Malibu Beach, California.
Several Russian media outlets are speculating that a popular Russian TV hostess, Tina Kandelaki, was in the passenger seat of the vehicle with Suleyman Kerimov. According to local hospital records she was treated and then quickly released with only minor injuries. Tina Kandelaki is married to a prominent Moscow businessman, Andrei Kondrahin, who has refused to comment. Mrs. Kandelaki is now in Moscow and has issued a statement declaring that she even wasn't in France at the time of the accident. Mrs. Kandelaki claims that she has been at home sick for several days with the mumps.
Tina Kandelaki (photo by ITAR TASS)
The headlines related to Russia these days seem to be straight out of James Bond movie - complete with shootings, death by exotic poisons, and spectacular Ferrari crashes on the French Riviera. Russia Blog will comment on the murder of Alexander Litvinenko very soon. In the meantime, we want to extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Suleyman Kerimov.