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Russia jails alleged lover of ex-defence minister for 5 years


Anatoly Serdyukov

Anatoly Serdyukov

A Russian court on Friday sentenced the alleged mistress of disgraced ex-defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov to five years in a prison camp in a sweeping probe into a multi-million dollar embezzlement.

Former senior official Yevgenia Vasilyeva, who headed the defence ministry’s property department, was convicted along with four ex-colleagues of stealing money in a scam to sell off government assets.

Russia’s powerful investigative committee said it had also seized six properties and “1,200 pieces of jewellery and gems” worth 127 million rubles ($2.5 million, about two million euros) from Vasilyeva and frozen her bank accounts.

Vasilyeva has claimed to have been the mistress of Serdyukov, who was sacked by President Vladimir Putin over the $100 million corruption scandal.

However he managed to escape punishment while Vasilyeva, who was detained in late 2012, spent the two-and-a-half year span of the investigation and trial under house arrest in her luxurious apartment in Moscow, sparking allegations she was receiving preferential treatment.

The scandal delved into Vasilyeva’s private life and she said in one court session that she had “personal relations” with Serdyukov, though insisted they began after she was fired from her position.

Her life under arrest was also a ceaseless source of tabloid fascination as she focused on her hobbies as a self-styled painter, wrote romantic poetry and recorded music.

After launching a pop career, buxom blonde Vasilyeva even managed to record several music videos, including one that was shot in the countryside, despite her house arrest.

Her wide-ranging tastes led the Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin to crack a dark joke about her sentence: “There is a real opportunity (for Vasilyeva) to realise artistic potential in the genre of chanson,” he tweeted Friday, using the term often used for the music of the criminal world.

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