The mayor of the Russian city of Yaroslavl has been found guilty of soliciting bribes and sentenced to 12½ years in a high-security prison, an unusually harsh verdict.

When he was arrested in 2013 Yevgeny Urlashov was the only opposition mayor of a major Russian city, elected a year earlier on a wave of opposition protests.

The Yaroslavl Regional Court on Wednesday found Urlashov guilty of soliciting 17 million rubles ($255,000) from a local businessman. Two of Urlashov's aides also stood trial: one was found guilty of helping to arrange the bribe and sentenced to 7 years in prison and the other was acquitted.

Urlashov pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed that he had been framed by his political rivals.