Guilty verdict for Russian ex-economy minister Ulyukayev 'groundless' - Putin adviser

Guilty verdict for Russian ex-economy minister Ulyukayev 'groundless' - Putin adviser

Russia's former economic development minister, Alexei Ulyukayev on Friday was found guilty of accepting a $2 million bribe and was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment.

Ulyukayev, who became economic development minister in 2013, was arrested at Rosneft's headquarters past year after being handed a bag containing $2 million by Sechin, who had asked security forces to set up a sting.

Sechin claimed in written testimony that Ulyukayev was extorting a bribe in exchange for issuing a positive assessment of Rosneft's bid to take over another oil company, Bashneft.

Ulyukayev had denied the charges and alleged that he was framed. Asked Thursday about Sechin's failure to show up, Putin said at his marathon news conference that he saw no violation of legal procedures by his lieutenant.

In addition to the prison term, the court also ordered the former minister to pay a fine of over 130 million rubles and banned him from holding public office and posts at state corporations for eight years after he finishes serving his sentence.

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"It's a awful, groundless verdict", Kudrin said on social media.

Russian former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev stands behind bars after the verdict at a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, December 15, 2017.

Ulyukayev has lost a striking amount of weight while under house arrest and has calmly read books by Chekhov and Kafka, as well as Plato's Apology of Socrates, during the trial.

Ulyukayev said the sentence was "unjust" and vowed to appeal.

In his emotional final argument, Ulyukayev pleaded not guilty to "those absurd accusations" and likened himself to an "elderly gladiator with a paper sword" trying to fend them off.

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