The office of Russia’s prosecutor general said Friday that it will launch criminal proceedings against a Russian diplomat who hit and killed a woman in Canada while allegedly driving drunk last month.
The case has caused a political storm in Canada, where the opposition accused the Foreign Ministry of incompetence after it emerged that the diplomat, Andrei Knyazev, had twice been investigated for drunk driving in 1999.
Many Canadians voiced outrage that Knyazev, the first political secretary at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, would not face justice in Canada.
Ottawa police charged him with impaired driving, but he was withdrawn to Moscow following the accident after Russia refused to waive his diplomatic immunity.
“As a result of an investigation, a decision was taken to launch a criminal case against Knyazev,” the Russian prosecutor general’s office said in a statement Friday.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley had fought to have Knyazev tried in Ottawa, but he told Parliament on Friday that he nonetheless welcomed Russia’s decision.
Manley said he understood that penalties in Russia were comparable to those in Canada and that Knyazev could face five years in jail and the loss of his license, if convicted.