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Former Russian Minister Ulyukayev Released From Prison.

Aleksei Ulyukayev appears in court during his trial in December 2017.

Aleksei Ulyukayev appears in court during his trial in December 2017.

Former Russian Economy Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2017 for bribery, has been released from prison after prosecutors decided not to appeal a court ruling last month that accepted his request for early parole.

Ulyukayev left Correctional Colony No. 1 on May 12, climbing into a Range Rover SUV vehicle that was accompanied by two more vehicles without license plates.
A court in Tver ruled on April 27 that it would grant Ulyukayev his request for an early release, saying that the ruling would take force on May 12 if prosecutors did not launch an appeal. Ulyukayev was convicted in December 2017 of taking a "large bribe" and sentenced to eight years in a strict-regime prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 130 million rubles ($1.8 million). Ulyukayev, who was fired by President Vladimir Putin hours after his arrest in the middle of the night in November 2016, is the highest Russian official to be arrested since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. He was found guilty of taking a $2 million in cash from the head of state-run oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin. Sechin is a longtime Putin associate. Prosecutors said the bribe was given in exchange for Ulyukayev approving the sale of Bashneft, a state-controlled oil company, to Rosneft. Police detained Ulyukayev inside Rosneft headquarters shortly after Sechin handed him the cash inside a lockable brown bag, prosecutors said. Ulyukayev has said he thought the package contained a gift but that a trap had been set for him. Ulyukayev, 66, was seen as a member of the liberal camp in the Russian ruling elite, while Sechin, a longtime former deputy chief of staff at the Kremlin, is perceived as a hard-liner and one of Putin's closest allies.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and TASS

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