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Russian MP still unconscious after car crash in France

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A Russian billionaire lawmaker who crashed his car in France on the weekend has not regained consciousness, and is still connected to an artificial respirator in hospital, an emergency services source said Monday.
PARIS, November 27 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian billionaire lawmaker who crashed his car in France on the weekend has not regained consciousness, and is still connected to an artificial respirator in hospital, an emergency services source said Monday.

Suleiman Kerimov, 40, a member of the State Duma and one of Russia's richest men, reportedly lost control of his Ferrari and crashed into a tree in Nice on Saturday afternoon. His car burst into flames, and the MP was flown by helicopter to a Marseilles clinic with severe burns.

Hospital officials are maintaining confidentiality on Kerimov's condition, on the request of the patient's family, Russian daily Kommersant reported Monday. But an emergency services spokesman said Kerimov is in a serious condition, and has been connected to an artificial respirator.

Kommersant said Kerimov, ranked 72 among the world's richest people according to Forbes magazine, was driving at a high speed despite the 50 km/h (31mph) speed limit on the road.

The leader of Russia's ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), of which Kerimov is a member, was quoted by the paper as saying the crash looks more like an accident than an assassination attempt.

"If there was an explosion, you could think it resembled a murder attempt," Vladimir Zhirinovsky said. "It was an ordinary car crash, a technical failure; an accident, that's all."

Kerimov, an ethnic Daghestani, owns Nafta-Moskva investment company, which has assets in Russian energy giant Gazprom and Sberbank savings bank, and is deputy head of the State Duma's committee on physical training, sports, and youth affairs.

Russian experts said Monday Kerimov must have lost control of his 1.20 million euro Ferrari Enzo, a 12-cylinder racing car with a maximum speed of 350 kilometers (217.5 miles) an hour, which requires special driving skills.

Alexei Vasiliyev said it is a racing vehicle not designed for use in residential areas.

"Even a standard version allowed for sales is difficult to drive, even for professionals," he said. "This car helps you until it suddenly runs out of control."

Alexander Kotov, the head of a Russian professional drivers' union, said driving this car without special training is dangerous.

"It is tantamount to switching from a bicycle to a racing motorbike. I have 68 years of driving experience, but I would have trained for a long time in a special territory before driving a Ferrari."

Kommersant also said there was a woman passenger in Kerimov's car.

Russian TV channel STS confirmed Monday that channel anchor Tina Kandelaki was in the car, but said she did not suffer in the crash.

"Kandelaki was there and has arrived in Moscow. She is at home preparing for a TV show. I have talked to her, and she is feeling all right," said Alexander Chernov, head of the STS press service.

Kandelaki was in France on an invitation after winning a national television prize, Tefi, in Russia, the channel said.

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