Russia "disappointed" with diplomat jail sentence

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MOSCOW, Oct 13 (Reuters) Russia said today it was ''disappointed'' a US court had sentenced a Russian diplomat to more than four years in prison for helping launder over 300,000 dollars in bribes from firms seeking UN contracts.

A US district judge in New York yesterday sentenced Vladimir Kuznetsov, who once chaired a United Nations budget committee, to 51 months in jail and fined him more than 73,000 dollars in a case linked to the then oil-for-food program for Iraq.

''The sentence ... has been received in Moscow with disappointment,'' Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its Internet site, www.mid.ru.

The ministry added it did not rule out seeking Kuznetsov's repatriation to Russia under a convention on the handover of convicted criminals.

The Kuznetsov case has been the subject of intense media coverage in Russia, with some commentators saying the charges against him were fabricated for political reasons.

Kuznestov said after the verdict he would appeal, citing what he said were ''severe violations in the procedures'' during the trial.

REUTERS SYU RAI2036

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