Mayors gets suspended sentence for stealing $500,000

The Mayor of Vladivostok has been given a suspended sentence of four and a half years after being found guilty of abusing his powers. Vladimir Nikolayev was accused of syphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city's budget.

Under arrest since March

Vladimir Nikolayev was temporarily suspended from the post of mayor at the end of February. He was officially placed under arrest on March 7 and has been in custody since then.

He was accused of spending over $US 500,000 of the city's budget to suit his own ends, as well as  selling state forestland to private owners.

Nikolaev pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. In his first interview since March, the former head of the city thanked those who had supported him.

Too harsh or too mild?

It wasn't quite the sentence the defence was hoping for. Vladimir Nikolaev's lawyers had said a fine would be sufficient punishment, but the court thought otherwise.

The prosecution also disagreed with the court’s decision. It had wanted to see Nikolaev behind bars for a five-year term.

“As of now, the prosecution's view remains the same. In connection with this, in due time, we will submit an appeal to the Primorsky Regional Court to overturn this verdict, because it is too mild,” said Deputy Prosecutor Dmitry Praslov.

The prosecutor's office has ten days to appeal against the decision, after which it will stand.

Nikolayev has been released from custody, although he's not allowed to leave the city he once headed.