Kyrgyz PM resigns following Beeline investigation arrests

Kyrgyz PM resigns following Beeline investigation arrests

The prime minister of Kyrgyzstan has resigned over accusations that the country’s government was complicit in selling mobile spectrum at well below market price.

Despite his resignation, Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev denied any misconduct, saying: “I have nothing to do with this case, and the accusations made against me have no basis. I am confident that the investigation will put everything in its place and identify the people truly violating the law.”

Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security opened an investigation in April this year over alleged irregularities relating to spectrum licensing deals. The investigation centres on Sky Mobile (Beeline), which in March paid US$1.8 million to buy-out cable TV operator Ala-TV.

The acquisition included a 200MHz band of spectrum held by Ala-TV. Beeline has repurposed this “for 4G communications”, paying a nominal fee to obtain permission from the State Communications Agency (SCA), which in turn is supervised by the State Committee for Information Technology & Communications (SCITC).

The token payment in this transaction has prompted the allegations of corruption, with MP Janar Akayev bringing the case before the Kyrgyz parliament and arguing that such arrangements have resulted in the effective loss of “dozens of millions of dollars” in revenue for the state.

The investigation has already resulted in the arrests of former SCA head Natalya Chernogubova, who was detained for alleged corruption, as well as Ala-TV founder Arthur Khaldarov and SCITC deputy chairman Maksat Dzhylyshbaev. SCITC head Dastan Dogoyev was not arrested but has faced questioning.

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