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Russia's MTS Resumes Operations In Uzbekistan

  • RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

Russian mobile phone operator MTS has resumed operations in Uzbekistan, more than two years after being forced out in a dispute with Uzbek authorities.

A new MTS-Uzbek joint venture, Universal Mobile Systems (UMS), started operations on December 1.

MTS was the largest mobile phone operator in Uzbekistan from 2004 until 2012, with some 9 million customers at its peak.

In 2012, Uzbek authorities accused MTS subsidiary Uzdunrobita of regulatory violations, arrested several of its top officials, and revoked its license.

The moves coincided with the arrests of associates of Uzbek President Islam Karimov's daughter Gulnara Karimova, who gained control over Uzdunrobita in early 2000s.

Karimova is under house arrest and under investigation on suspicion of corruption.

UMS was established earlier this year after MTS and the Uzbek government agreed to resolve their differences.

MTS owns 50.01 percent of its shares, while the Uzbek government holds 49.99 percent.