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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ryazan's Mayor Investigated Over Crash

Ryazan's mayor is suspected of covering up his involvement in a car accident last year in which two young motorcyclists were killed, prosecutors said Thursday.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Mayor Fyodor Provotorov lied when he told police that he was not behind the wheel of his Mercedes sport utility vehicle when it struck an oncoming motorcycle with two teenagers on a Ryazan region highway Sept. 2, said Dmitry Plotkin, an aide to the regional prosecutor.

The two teenagers died at the scene.

"Provotorov said at the time that it was not he who was behind the wheel but rather his friend, Sergei Vasin, who took the blame and was subsequently charged," Plotkin said, Interfax reported.

"Investigators believe he knowingly gave false evidence."

Investigators believe that Vasin arrived at the scene after the accident and that the two tried to conceal Provotorov's role by smashing up Vasin's face and smearing his blood on the steering wheel and air bag, Kommersant reported Thursday.

Provotorov, who was in the hospital Thursday, has not been charged or questioned, Plotkin said.

If charged and convicted, he could face up to six years in prison.

Provotorov is also suspected of improperly instructing Ryazan City Hall to spend about 40,000 rubles per month to rent cars from a company he co-owns, Plotkin said.

"He was essentially renting cars from himself," Plotkin said.

If charged and convicted of running an illegal business, Provotorov could face up to four years in prison.

Several governors and mayors have been investigated recently, and some have been charged with abuse of power and corruption. Political analysts have said the investigations look like a populist campaign to curry public favor ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections.