27 May 2020 13:00

Kyrgyz PM goes on vacation amid corruption scandal in mobile communication sector

BISHKEK. May 27 (Interfax) - Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev has gone on vacation in order not to be accused of pressuring investigators in the case of corrupt practices in using mobile communication frequencies, the Kyrgyz government press service said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The government and the prime minister have been criticized in Jogorku Kenesh [the Kyrgyz parliament] and urged to prove their innocence in connection with the criminal inquiry into the license extension and re-registration of radio frequencies. In order to avoid accusations of pressuring the investigators and to ensure an impartial inquiry, I think I should go on a brief vacation," the statement quoted Abylgaziev as saying.

"I have nothing in common with this inquiry and deem politicization of the issue to be inadmissible. Law enforcement agencies should ensure an impartial and comprehensive inquiry, and the culprits should be held liable," Abylgaziev said.

A spokesman for the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office told Interfax that a pretrial inquiry into corrupt practices of certain officials from the State Committee on Information Technologies and Communication and the National Security Committee was registered in early April. The officials are suspected of conspiring with representatives of private companies and lobbying the re-registration of licenses to use 200 MHz frequencies in violation of law.

The Prosecutor General's Office ordered that the violations, which led to the illegal re-registration of the license and modification of the technology of using radio frequencies, be fixed, the spokesman said.

"Investigators are evaluating the material damage incurred by the state and are working to repair the damage," he said.

According to Kyrgyz media, LLC Sky Mobile (Beeline trademark) acquired Ala-TV for $1.8 million in March and also received the license to use 200 MHz radio frequency for cable television. The mobile communication operator re-registered the radio frequency assigned for TV broadcast for being used for 4G communication via the State Committee on Information Technologies and Communication. As a result, the government incurred damage of 5 billion soms ($67.5 million).

The Kyrgyz news agency 24 kg said, citing its sources, that former Director of the State Communications Agency under the State Committee on Information Technologies and Communication Natalia Chernogubova, two employees of the National Security Committee, a department head, and the Ala-TV director were detained in the course of the criminal inquiry.

Deputy Jenar Akayev said at the Kyrgyz parliament meeting on May 20 that the deal, which sold radio frequencies, could not have been concluded without high-ranking Kyrgyz officials.