Russia’s former economics minister was handed an eight-year prison sentence Friday after being convicted of accepting a $2 million bribe from President Vladimir Putin’s top associate.
The case against Alexei Ulyukayev has been widely seen as part of infighting between Kremlin clans. Ulyukayev was a prominent member of a group of liberal-minded Cabinet members, while his nemesis Igor Sechin is the most prominent representative of the hard-line flank of the Russian elite.
Sechin heads Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, and his clout seconds only that of Putin.
Ulyukayev was detained a year ago at Rosneft’s headquarters following a sting operation by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency. He rejected the charges as a provocation set up by Sechin.
The case was seen as a personal vendetta against Ulyukayev, who had been critical of a Rosneft privatization plan proposed by Sechin that saw the company purchase its own stock.
A Moscow court on Friday also ordered Ulyukayev to pay a $2.2 million fine. Prosecutors had asked the court to send him to a high-security prison for ten years.