Russian prosecutors call for 10-year sentence for ex-economy minister
MOSCOW – Agence France-Presse
Russian prosecutors yesterday called for a 10-year prison sentence for former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev who is accused of extorting a $2 million bribe from a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Ulyukayev, 61, was arrested last year while still a minister, allegedly caught red-handed in a sting operation to greenlight the acquisition by state oil giant Rosneft of a stake in state-run oil company Bashneft.
He is the highest-ranking official arrested during Putin’s 17 years in power.
Investors are closely watching his case for signs of Russia’s future direction as Putin is widely expected to extend his rule until 2024 in a March vote.
Prosecutor Boris Neporozhny called for a 10-year sentence for the former minister in a “harsh regime colony,” adding that Ulyukayev should be stripped of his state awards.
“I ask you to find Alexei Ulyukayev guilty,” the prosecutor said in a Moscow court as he also asked for a fine of 500 million rubles ($8.5 million).
“The guilt of the defendant in receiving a bribe is completely proven,” he said.
Neporozhny accused Ulyukayev, who has spoken out against state intervention in the economy, of extorting $2 million from Rosneft chief Igor Sechin, who is a confidante of Putin, and is considered by many to be the second-most powerful man in Russia.
Sechin has refused to appear as a witness in the trial despite being summoned repeatedly, citing his busy schedule.
A judge earlier said the court had summoned Sechin by fax, mail and courier but Rosneft
Ulyukayev has denied the charges, saying he has been framed. He says he accepted a hamper from Sechin which he thought contained wine and other gifts.