Former Russian Atomic Minister Adamov freed from jail on a suspended sentence

Vesti Russian state television news

Publish date: April 17, 2008

Written by: Charles Digges

Just two moths after sentencing former Russian Atomic Minister Yevgeny Adamov to five and a half years in prison, a Moscow court Thursday overturned the jail term and handed down a suspended sentence, setting him free.

Adamov was sentenced to a five and a half year stint in a Russian penal colony in February.

He was found guilty of abuse of office and for defrauding the Russian government of some $31 million in US aid money meant for security upgrades to aging Russian nuclear reactors, and stock dividends that accrued on that aid money while held by Adamov in several offshore banks and companies including one in the United States that Adamov had set up with several partners.

Adamov has maintained that he held the US government aid in various personal holdings to save it from falling prey to Russia’s turbulent economy while he served as atomic minister from 1998 to 2001. After he was dismissed as atomic minister by President Vladimir Putin, a Duma anti-corruption committee accused Adamov of setting up companies inside and outside Russia.

Two of Adamov’s partners, Vyacheslav Pismenny, the former head of the Troitsky Institute of Innovation and Thermonuclear Research, and Revmir Frayshut, former director of Tekhsnabeksport (Tenex)
Russia’s state enriched uranium sales giant, were each given four-year suspended sentences on Feb 20th as a result of their advanced age and poor health.

Adamov’s lawyer, Genry Reznik, said after the original February sentencing in Moscow that his 68-year-old client should be afforded the same circumstances as his co-defendants and vowed to appeal the jail sentence.

On Thursday, Moscow’s Zamoskovorestky District Court – the same court that sent him to jail – granted Adamov a suspended sentence, Russia’s state newswire Itar-Tass reported.

"The collegium of the Moscow City Court passed a ruling to change the sentence issued to Adamov by Moscow City’s Zamoskvoretsky Disrict Court and to mitigate it to a suspended term of four years with probation," court spokeswoman Anna Usacheva said, reading part of the decision of the Judge to Bellona Web in a telephone interview Thursday.

Viktor Antipov, the prosecutor who put Adamov in jail told RIA Novosit that he does not intend to appeal the change in terms of Adamov’s sentence.

"I do not object to the court’s ruling," he said.

Adamov, however has other ideas, and intends to vacate the guilty verdict against him altogether.

"I will appeal against the court’s decision and seek an investigation against those who allowed this legal situation to occur," Adamov said, according to RIA Novosti.

Adamov’s lawyers earlier said the prosecution had failed to provide any evidence to substantiate their client’s guilt, and the sentence was too severe.

Mark Kaushansky, 55, Adamov’s third partner who immigrated from Ukraine in 1979 , was sentenced to 15 months in prison and a $20,000 fine, plus an additional $60,000 tax penalty in June 2007 by the Western Federal District Court of Pennsylvania.

US Federal Authorities had attempted to extradite Adamov from Switzerland on a US warrant on May 2nd 2005 to stand trial along side Kaushansky while he was in Bern visiting his daughter. The US charged that Adamov had defrauded the US government of $9 million in aid money, more than three times less than he was eventually found guilty of embezzling.

Moscow filed an extradition request of its own with the Swiss, saying Adamov would be tortured for Russian nuclear secrets if turned over to American hands, indicating as well that Adamov faced charges in Russia.

Adamov faced a 60-year prison sentence and a $1.25 million had he been found guilty in the United States.

Adamov remained in a Swiss jail for six months while Swiss courts weighed which country to send him to. He was returned to Moscow in 2006, were he again jailed, but later freed on the condition that he not leave Moscow.

The light sentence Kaushansky received in light of the 20 charges of conspiracy, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering against him came as a result of his cooperation with US investigators who were trying to elucidate Adamov’s activities.

According to a spokesman for the US Western Federal District Court, the charges against Adamov in the United States remain active, and that he will be arrested and tried if he goes to America.

At his trial, Kaushansky repeated Adamov’s defense that he was only trying to help save millions of dollars from the predations of rampant official corruption in Russia, but admitted that, “I made some mistakes.”