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Russian prosecutors seek 10 years in bribery case of ex-economy minister

Aleksei Ulyukayev stands accused of accepting $2 million in bribes

(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) – Prosecutors in a high-profile bribery extortion trial are seeking a 10-year prison term for former Russian Economy Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, while his lawyers say their client must be acquitted.

“I ask you to find Aleksei Ulyukayev guilty of bribe-taking,” prosecutor Boris Neporozhny told the court, asking for a 10-year prison sentence, a fine of 500 million rubles ($8.5 million) as well as his being stripped of all state awards, and banned from holding government posts.

The prosecution said in its closing argument earlier on December 4 that it has been proven Ulyukayev demanded and accepted $2 million in cash from Igor Sechin, the chief executive of theRosneft state oil company, in exchange for Ulyukayev approving the sale of state-controlled oil company Bashneft to Rosneft.

Meanwhile, Ulyukayev’s lawyer, Timofei Gridnev, asked the court to acquit his client.

“Ulyukayev could not demand a bribe from Sechin because he could not in any way influence the decision on Bashneft’s privatization,” Gridnev said in his closing argument on December 4.

Sechin, who was summoned to the trial four times, never showed up and during the trial the prosecution used his written statements given to investigators.

Ulyukayev, the highest official to be arrested in Russia since Russian President Vladimir Putin came to power, has pleaded not guilty and called the case against him a provocation.

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Prosecutors said the bribe was paid last year on November 14.

After the exchange of closing arguments between prosecution and defense, Ulyukayev is expected to be given a chance to make his final statement before the verdict is announced.

Police detained Ulyukayev at the Rosneft headquarters shortly after Sechin handed him a brown bag with $2 million inside, prosecutors said. Ulyukayev was immediately arrested, and he was fired the next day by Putin.

Ulyukayev told the court on November 27 that he believed at the time the package contained a gift but a trap had been set for him.

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