U.S. Asks Russia to Waive Immunity for Diplomat Whose Car Hit NYC Cop

The United States asked Russia on Tuesday to waive the diplomatic immunity of a Russian diplomat so he can face felony charges for allegedly driving while drunk and hitting a policeman directing traffic on a busy parkway.

If Russia refuses to lift the immunity of Ilya Morozov, an attache at Russia's U.N. Mission, the United States will order him to leave the country "for having abused the privilege of residence here," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said.

The request for Russia to lift Morozov's immunity came from Marjorie Tiven, who heads the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol. She informed Bolton that police want Morozov to face serious charges including felony assault on a police officer and operating a vehicle with abilities impaired by alcohol.

The spokeswoman for the Russian Mission, Maria Zakharova, said the note was being studied "and we will be able to make some comments in the nearest future."

The accident occurred Saturday night when the car swerved around traffic cones set up because of construction on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, the main parkway that runs down the east side of Manhattan, police spokeswoman Officer Kathleen Price said.

Police officials did not release the officer's name. They identified him only as a highway officer who was treated at the hospital for a sprained knee and released.

The police officer suffered minor injuries to his knees and was in stable condition, she said.

Morozov was taken into custody but was eligible for diplomatic immunity and was not charged criminally, police said Sunday.

He was given seven traffic tickets citing him for speeding in a posted work zone, driving while ability impaired by alcohol, failing to use a designated lane, operating a motor vehicle on the sidewalk, operating a motor vehicle on the shoulder, improperly entering from a controlled highway, and failing to comply with a lawful order by a police officer.

Zakharova said Sunday that Morozov accidentally entered the area, which usually is open for driving, but did not hit the officer. "He himself also claims that there was not any hit or physical contact with the policeman," she said.

In a letter to Tiven on Tuesday, Bolton said the U.S. Mission "considers alcohol related offenses to be a very serious threat to public safety."

"I am particularly sorry that a New York City police officer was injured by Mr. Morozov's alleged behavior on the evening of April 22, and would ask that you send ... my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery," Bolton said.

"We have sent the permanent mission of the Russian Federation a diplomatic note requesting that the Russians waive Mr. Morozov's immunity," he said.