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Ailing Ex-Governor Belykh Sent To Prison In Unknown Location In Russia

Former Kirov regional Governor Nikita Belykh (file photo)
Former Kirov regional Governor Nikita Belykh (file photo)

Nikita Belykh, a former regional governor who was sentenced to eight years in prison on a politically charged bribery conviction in February, has been moved from a Moscow detention center to a prison whose location was not revealed.

The secretary of the Public Monitoring Commission in Moscow, Ivan Melnikov, said on June 25 that Belykh was transported overnight from the Lefortovo jail to a prison where he is expected to serve his sentence.

Belykh's wife, Yekaterina Reifert, said she has not yet been told where he was being sent.

Melnikov said that the former Kirov Oblast governor underwent a through medical examination before being transferred, and that a doctor was expected to accompany him due to his poor health.

However, Yekaterina Belykh wrote on Facebook that her husband was given pills before he was transferred but that no doctor was with him.

Belykh, 43, was ill at times during his trial, and Reifert said after the verdict that the eight-year term was like a "death sentence" for her husband.

Belykh's lawyer, Andrei Grokhotov, told Ekho Moskvy radio on June 25 that his client's health remains "bad."

Once a leader of a liberal opposition party, the Union of Right Forces, Belykh was one of the few provincial governors in Russia not to be closely allied with President Vladimir Putin.

He was arrested in July 2016 and sentenced to eight years in prison on February 1, 2018, after a Moscow court found him guilty of taking about 400,000 euros ($466,500) in bribes in 2012-16 in connection with timber investment projects in the region.

One of the highest-ranking officials to be arrested in office since Putin was first elected in 2000, Belykh maintained his innocence, saying he was the victim of a "banal provocation" by law enforcement authorities.

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