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FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER SENTENCED TO NINE YEARS IN U.S. PRISON. A U.S. court on August 25 sentenced Pavlo Lazarenko, who served from 1996 to 1997 as Ukrainian prime minister, to nine years in prison and fined him $10 million, Reuters reported. A U.S. jury convicted Lazarenko in 2004 of 29 counts of extortion, money laundering through U.S. banks, fraud, and transportation of stolen property. The judge presiding over Lazarenko's case later threw out 15 counts. "The defendant's conduct was egregious -- he misused his office to generate tens of millions for himself at the expense of the Ukrainian people and then sought to avail himself of our banking system to safeguard his criminal proceeds," U.S. prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. Lazarenko's lawyers said they will appeal the verdict. Lazarenko applied for political asylum in the United States in 1998. He was arrested in 1999 and accused of money laundering in 2000. He has been kept under house arrest in San Francisco since 2003. A Swiss court tried Lazarenko in absentia in 2000, finding him guilty of money laundering and sentencing him to 1 1/2 years in prison and a $6.6 million fine. JM