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Belarusian Air Force General Sentenced In Bribery Case

Major General Ihar Azaronak was relieved of his air-force command post in January.
MINSK -- The Belarusian Supreme Court's Military Collegium has sentenced the former commander of the country's air force to nine years in jail for a bribery-related offense and "illegal operations with ammunition," RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

After Major General Ihar Azaronak's sentence was read out, he shouted "Damn you, puppets!" at court officials.

Azaronak's co-defendant, Russian citizen Andrei Mashkautsan, was also sentenced to six years in jail.

Judge Uladzimer Davydau stripped Azaronak of his military rank and ordered him to pay 138 million Belarusian rubles (about $16,000) in compensation to the state.

No other details of Azaronak's case were discernible from the reading of the verdict and sentence. The trial, which started on October 25, was held behind closed doors.

Azaronak was arrested on December 20, 2010, one day after the disputed presidential election that gave incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka another term.

In early January, Lukashenka relieved Azaronak of his post as commander of the air force.

When asked to comment on her husband's sentence, Azaronak's wife told RFE/RL's correspondent and other journalists to "get out of here, you vultures!"

Read and watch in Belarusian here