BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities say criminal cases were launched in late October against two leading Muslim clerics.
The State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said on December 14 that Chubak Hajji Jalilov and Ralkhmatulla Egemberdiev had been charged with tax evasion.
Egemberdiev, Kyrgyzstan's acting grand mufti, told RFE/RL that the announcement was made in an effort to influence the outcome of the election by the Muslims Congress of their new leader on December 15.
Jalilov was Kyrgyzstan's grand mufti before he stepped down last summer amid allegations of fraud and corruption.
Five muftis have been replaced in Kyrgyzstan in the past three years.
After the antigovernment protests that toppled former President Kurmanbek Bakiev in April 2010, unidentified attackers kidnapped and reportedly beat up then-mufti Murataly Hajji Jumanov, who eventually died of his injuries.