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Controversial Lawyer Found Guilty of Stealing Rare Manuscripts

November 15, 1996

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) _ A Russian lawyer was convicted Thursday of complicity in the theft of ancient manuscripts worth up to $250 million.

Dmitry Yakubovsky, who once investigated government corruption for President Boris Yeltsin, was sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in the theft. The 89 manuscripts, ranging from 300 to 1,300 years old, are valued at between $1 million and $9 million each.

The state will confiscate Yakubovsky’s property, the Interfax news agency reported.

His term, to be served in a minimum-security prison, will be counted from the day of his arrest, Dec. 20, 1994. He had been denied bail.

Yakubovsky’s lawyer Genrikh Padva said he would file an appeal Friday with Russia’s Supreme Court.

In addition to theft, Yakubovsky was also found guilty of violating currency regulations.

Yakubovsky faces two more trials. Prison officials accuse him of sexual harassment and attacking a fellow prisoner.

The manuscripts, which included works of Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan and Middle Eastern philosophy and poetry, disappeared from the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg in December 1994.

Several days later, police and security agents recovered them and detained three people, including Yakubovsky. Yakubovsky’s lawyers claimed his arrest served the interests of highly placed people whose secrets he had learned while investigating corruption.

A claim for $1.9 million damage to the stolen manuscripts has been filed in a civil court.

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