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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Wants Action on Crashes

ReutersA policeman working at the scene of a deadly crash near the village of Samarskoye in the Rostov region on Friday.
At least 29 people have been killed in a series of bus crashes in the past week, including one Friday that left nearly two dozen dead, prompting President Dmitry Medvedev to demand that officials boost order on the roads.

In the bloodiest accident, 21 people were killed when a bus and gasoline tanker collided Friday afternoon on a southern highway that has often been called one of the country’s most dangerous. The empty KamAZ tanker apparently veered into oncoming traffic on the M-4 highway between Krasnodar and Rostov-on-Don, Interfax reported.

A criminal investigation has been opened into the accident, Rostov prosecutors said.

Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said he would take personal control of the investigation and sent the head of the ministry’s road safety department to the scene.

Medvedev criticized Russia’s road safety record Friday at a meeting of the country’s Security Council. He urged the traffic police and other law enforcement agencies to work harder to improve order on the Russian roads.

“We can’t bury so many people because our traffic system is organized like this,” he said, according to comments on the Kremlin web site.

Between 30,000 and 35,000 people die in traffic-related accidents in Russia every year. In Moscow alone, about 700 people die on the roads annually, according to police statistics.

Two children were among the dead in the Rostov crash. The bus is thought to have been carrying about 40 passengers.

The driver is believed to be among the dead. The 35-year-old worked for a bus company called Kurganinskoye and had five years of experience driving Ikarus buses, Interfax reported.

The health minister of the Rostov region, Tatyana Bykovskaya, told Interfax on Friday that seven people were injured in the crash. One was in very serious condition and had been hospitalized in Rostov-on-Don, she said.

The bus was traveling from Kurganinsk to Taganrog.

In 2007, Putin identified the Don highway as one of the country’s most dangerous in a speech to lawmakers, RIA-Novosti reported.

The major artery runs from Moscow to the southern port of Novorossiisk and is being reconstructed as part of a federal program to develop the country’s transport system.

Every summer, about 3,000 people are killed on the highway, RIA-Novosti reported, citing Transportation Ministry statistics.

The accident was the second fatal bus crash in Russia in the last week.

On July 20, a bus left the road and turned over in the Novosibirsk region. Eight people died, including one child, and 39 were injured, Interfax reported.

The driver was arrested and is being questioned by police. He could be sentenced to up to seven years in jail for causing death by careless driving.

A passenger told a Tomsk region television station that the driver bent over to pick up some spilled sunflower seeds before the crash, RIA-Novosti reported.

In a third crash, a KamAZ truck slammed into a shuttle bus waiting at a stop on the Moscow Ring Road, or MKAD, on Saturday morning. Fourteen people inside the bus were injured in the accident, and 11 of them remained hospitalized Sunday, Interfax reported.