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December 15, 2018

Driver who ran over pedestrians in Moscow blames lack of sleep

June 21, 2018
Chingiz Anarbek Uulu said he had barely slept before getting behind the wheel for 20 hours. (Russian Interior Ministry – Moscow)

MOSCOW — The Moscow driver who ran over seven people and sparked terrorism fears says he barely slept before getting behind the wheel, though a Russian opposition leader doubts the official police explanation.

The driver, identified as a 28-year-old Chingiz Anarbek Uulu, was seen in a video published by police saying that he accidentally stepped on the accelerator when he tried to brake on Saturday night, when his car went careening onto the sidewalk on a busy street filled with World Cup fans.




“I don’t know. I wanted to brake. There was another person there, I wanted to let him through. I wanted to brake and suddenly in a second, I pressed the gas,” Uulu said.

The man, who had been driving in Moscow since last month, said that he had only slept for two or three hours before spending 20 behind the wheel.

Security camera footage captured the moment as the car suddenly steers towards the sidewalk. The vehicle injured at least seven people, including two Mexican soccer fans, and kept going.

“He was going fast, I don’t know how fast he was going,” a witness who identified herself only as Viktoria told the Daily News at the scene on Saturday, before recounting how the driver ran past her as he fled.

At least eight people were injured when the car lurched onto the sidewalk
At least eight people were injured when the car lurched onto the sidewalk (AP)

Uulu said in the police video that he ran away because he was scared of being killed by onlookers and added that he was not drunk, a version reported in local press shortly after the event.

“Many versions. Asleep, tired, drunk confused the pedals … for any taste. I watched carefully and saw that he completely deliberately drove the car into a crowd of people,” said Evgeny Roizman, the former mayor of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city.

“I think that it’s a terrorist attack,” he added.

The statement from Roizman — a prominent critic of the ruling United Russia party — came after fellow opposition leader Alexei Navalny, released from jail this week after being arrested for protests around the reelection of Vladimir Putin, also spoke out about the incident.

“Nightmare. Looks like a deliberate act,” he posted on Twitter. The message had been removed by late Sunday morning.

Russian security services have been on high alert around the World Cup, which has taken place across the western part of the country and led to an expansion of police and national guard units in city streets.

Sixteen people were killed last spring in St. Petersburg when a man with reported ties to Islamic extremists detonated a bomb, and 18 people were injured by a suspected nationalist’s homemade bomb at a supermarket in the city last December.




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