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May 8, 3:04 PM EDT

Former Russian defense official sent to prison in fraud case

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MOSCOW (AP) -- A Moscow court has sentenced a former defense official to five years in prison in a high-profile corruption case that has attracted nationwide attention.

Yevgenia Vasilyeva, the former head of the Defense Ministry's property department, was charged with fraud related to the sale of military assets. Under Friday's verdict, Vasilyeva will only serve 2 1/2 years in prison as she already has spent the remainder under house arrest.

Vasilyeva was close to former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who was fired in 2012 amid corruption accusations. The privileged terms of her house arrest and the sluggish pace of the trial led many to expect that she would be released, so the sentence came as a surprise.

Some saw the sentence as an attempt by the Kremlin to assuage public anger.

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