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Russian Court Sentences U.S. Citizen To Prison In Absentia

Janna Bullock attends an event in Miami, Florida, in December 2015.
Janna Bullock attends an event in Miami, Florida, in December 2015.

A Russian court has convicted Soviet-born New York real-estate developer and socialite Janna Bullock of large-scale fraud and money laundering and sentenced her to 11 years in prison after a trial in absentia.

Moscow's Basmanny district court issued the verdict and sentence on January 23, following a trial that began after what Russia said was Washingon's refusal to extradite Bullock.

Bullock, a U.S. citizen, was convicted of stealing billions of rubles from the budget of the Moscow region.

Bullock has repeatedly said she and her ex-husband, Aleksei Kuznetsov, are victims of corruption in Russia, accusing former business partners of colluding with officials to steal from a business empire whose worth she once estimated at around $2 billion.

Russia accuses the pair of using Kuznetsov's position in the Moscow region's government to conduct financial machinations that resulted in the loss of more than 11 billion rubles from its coffers. The amount is the equivalent of $195 million now but was worth more than $400 million at exchange rates in place between 2005 and 2008, when the crimes were allegedly committed.

The United States and Russia do not have an extradition treaty, and have sparred over mutual refusals to hand over suspects in high-profile cases -- most notably in the case of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who fled the country in 2013 and has been granted asylum in Russia.

Bullock, 50, was born in the Belarusian town of Pinsk and emigrated to the United States in the early 1990s, shortly after the Soviet collapse.

Bullock met Kuznetsov later in the 1990s, when he was an executive at the now-defunct Russian lender Inkombank. She became prominent in New York real-estate circles in the years after Kuznetsov assumed the post of finance minister in the Moscow regional government.

Based on reporting by and TASS

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