Moscow, Dec 15 (IANS) A Moscow court on Friday sentenced Russia’s former Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev to eight years in a harsh-regime prison and a $2.2 million fine for bribery.
Ulyukayev, 61, is the first minister to stand trial in Russia’s recent history. Following the announcement, he was taken into custody and escorted from the courtroom. His attorneys intend to appeal the verdict.
He was detained in 2016, accused of trying to extort $2 million from state oil firm Rosneft to approve its purchase of another oil firm, the BBC reported.
The accusation was made by Rosneft boss Igor Sechin, who is also one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest aides. Sechin was asked to testify but did not turn up.
It was a security service sting operation involving Sechin last November that put Ulyukayev in the dock. Ulyukayev denied the charges and alleged he was framed.
The verdict read out by judge Larisa Semyonova said Ulyukayev had “made use of his position in order to demand from Rosneft chief Sechin a bribe, in exchange for giving approval” for the purchase of state-owned Bashneft.
“At the same time he told Sechin he would in future obstruct the company’s activities if it rebuffed him,” the verdict said.
Oleg Feoktistov, a former secret service officer who worked for Sechin, testified that the bribery took place on the sidelines of a Brics forum in India. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa form the Brics group.
“Using two fingers he indicated the sum he wanted to receive, which was equivalent to two million dollars,” Feoktistov said, citing what Sechin had told him.
State prosecutors had urged the court to sentence Ulyukayev to 10 years behind bars and a maximum $8.5 million fine. The request was lambasted by Ulyukayev as a “death penalty”.
In November 2016, Putin dismissed Ulyukayev from his high-ranking post citing loss of trust.