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Russian ex-nuclear energy minister jailed

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A court in Moscow has sentenced Russia's former nuclear energy minister, Yevgeny Adamov, to five and a half years in prison for fraud and abuse of authority, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported on Wednesday.
MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - A court in Moscow has sentenced Russia's former nuclear energy minister, Yevgeny Adamov, to five and a half years in prison for fraud and abuse of authority, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported on Wednesday.

Yevgeny Adamov, 69, had been accused of leading an organized criminal group that embezzled over 3 billion rubles (about $110 million) from the Russian budget, as well as other state enterprises and organizations.

Genri Reznik, a lawyer for Adamov, said the defense would appeal against the verdict in the next ten days.

"It is an unjust and a harsh verdict. The prosecution did not provide any evidence at all that Adamov appropriated even a cent or a ruble," Reznik said.

Adamov, who served from 1998 to 2001 as Russia's nuclear energy minister, was originally arrested in Switzerland in May 2005 at the request of the United States, where authorities had accused him of misappropriating $9 million given to Russia for nuclear safety projects. If convicted in the U.S., Adamov would have faced up to 60 years behind bars.

He was extradited to Russia in early 2006 to face charges but was released by the Russian Supreme Court on July 21, after a total of 15 months in prison, to await trial.

In June 2007, Adamov's co-defendant in the U.S., Mark Kaushansky, was handed a 15-month prison sentence for personal and corporate tax evasion, and given a $20,000 fine. However, Kaushansky, a Russian nuclear engineer who now has U.S. residency status, was not convicted of involvement in the misappropriation of funds.

As part of a plea bargain entered by Kaushansky in September 2006, money laundering and other charges against him were dismissed.

Charges against Adamov are still pending in the U.S.

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