Former Kyrgyzstan PM arrested on corruption charges
© WikiMedia (Bala Biott)
Former Kyrgyzstan PM arrested on corruption charges

The State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan reported on Wednesday that they have detained Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev, the former Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, on charges of corruption and illegal enrichment.

The arrest took place on Tuesday under the pre-trial framework of the Kyrgyz Criminal Procedure Code. Following Article 98 of the Code, Abylgaziev is being held on suspicion in a temporary detention facility while the investigation continues.

The State Committee has alleged that during his tenure as Prime Minister, Abylgaziev violated the law and signed a government decree providing Kumtor Gold Company CJSC additional territories for geological exploration and gold mining. Consequently, the total area of the mine doubled and contravened a previous government decree banning the expansion of the mine so as to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Issyk-Kul Lake region.

Issyk-Kul Lake is the seventh deepest lake in the world, surrounded by several glaciers. It is the first nature reserve of the country and is a Ramsar site under UNESCO’s Ramsar Convention of 1971. As per the State Committee:

“The development of these territories will lead to severe environmental consequences for the flora and fauna of the Issyk-Kul biosphere zone, and may also disrupt the country’s hydropower system.”

Abylgaziev has also been accused of illegally increasing his assets several times larger than his official income during civil service. He is alleged to have then laundered this income by purchasing movable and immovable property in the Bishkek, Chui and Issyk-Kul districts, and registering them under the name of straw persons.

Abylgaziev became Prime Minister in April 2018 and resigned just over two years later on June 15, 2020, due to a criminal probe into corruption in the assignment of national radio frequencies. The country presently ranks 124 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2020. The State Committee stated that it is working to “dismantle manifestations of corruption in the highest echelons of power”.