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Former Head Of Russia's Mari El Republic Gets 13 Years In Prison On Corruption Charges

Leonid Markelov in court in Nizhny Novgorod on February 24
Leonid Markelov in court in Nizhny Novgorod on February 24

The former head of Russia's Mari El Republic, Leonid Markelov, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on corruption charges.

A court in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on February 24 found the 57-year-old Markelov guilty of bribe-taking, abuse of office, and illegal ammunition possession, and sentenced him the same day.

The court also ordered Markelov to pay a fine of 235.3 million rubles ($3.2 million).

Prosecutors in the high-profile case had asked the court to sentence Markelov to 17 years in prison.

Markelov rejected all the charges and pleaded not guilty.

"We will appeal the sentence that has been handed down," Interfax quoted Markelov's lawyer, Yelena Vyatkina, as saying.

Markelov led the Mari El Republic in Russia's Volga Federal District from 2001-17. He was arrested in April 2017 days after he had resigned. Investigators accused him of accepting the equivalent of more than $3.1 million in bribes.

While in pretrial detention in Moscow, Markelov complained of "torture" conditions. He said that he had been pressured in the Lefortovo detention center, where he says he was frequently transferred from one cell to another, subjected to frequent searches, and deprived of medical services.

Markelov’s lawyers also said their client was pressured to testify against himself.

With reporting by Interfax

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