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In Carbide, Icarus was elected to public office 3 years after being in prison for smuggling:

In October 2010, three years after he got out, the Vedmedivites elected him as deputy of the regional government. His criminal record didn't discourage voters from supporting a candidate who swore to uphold the law and raise their standard of living in no time flat. After all, the Ukrainian people had elected an ex-con as president earlier that year, so Icarus had no difficulty integrating himself into the new elite.

This is evidently referring to Viktor Yanukovych, who was elected President in February 2010. I'm slightly confused as to why he's referred to as an "ex-con" though; I'm aware that he was charged with - and convicted of - multiple crimes after leaving office, but which crimes were he convicted of before entering office? Did he actually serve jail time for them?

I did see from his Wikipedia page that he was charged with (but evidently not convicted of) fraud in 2005, and it vaguely alluded to Yanukovych having been improperly jailed at one point.

What is the book referring to in this case?

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Before being elected to office, Viktor Yanukovych served two terms in prison. This is indeed noted in his wikipedia page, in the section "Early life and early career".

The first was in 1967 on a charge of robbery. The Rossiyskaya Gazeta confirms that:

Yanukovych was sentenced in 1967 to three years in prison for participating in a robbery. He served his sentence in the city of Kremenchug, but was released after seven months for good behavior.

He was again arrested in 1970, this time on charges of assault. The same newspaper report states that:

Yanukovych was convicted in 1970 for two years for inflicting moderate bodily harm.

So yes, he did serve actual jail-time, and so it would be accurate to call him an "ex-con".

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