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Atambaev's Former Aide Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison

Ikramjan Ilmiyanov in the Bishkek court.

BISHKEK -- A former close associate of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for fraud.

The Oktyabr District Court in Bishkek on October 30 found Ikramjan Ilmiyanov guilty of embezzling $150,000 during the 2017 presidential campaign. He has denied the charge.

The court also ruled to confiscate Ilmiyanov's property and fine him the equivalent of $2,240.

In his closing statement at the high-profile trial, Ilmiyanov said his guilt has never been proven and asked the court to "make a just decision."

Ilmiyanov was detained in Russia's Tatarstan region in October 2018 and extradited to Kyrgyzstan.

Ilmiyanov is known as one of Atambaev's closest former associates. He started his career as Atambaev’s personal driver and was eventually promoted to the rank of presidential adviser.

Atambaev, 63, was arrested in August after he surrendered to police following a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.

The move to detain Atambaev was sparked by his refusal to go to the Interior Ministry for questioning in an unspecified investigation.

During the standoff between security forces and Atambaev's supporters, a top security official was killed and more than 170 people were wounded -- 79 of them police officers.

The violence underscored a power struggle between Atambaev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who took over the Central Asian nation in 2017.

The former president is also suspected of committing 13 other crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, organizing mass disturbances, and taking police officers hostage during the clashes at his residence in the summer.

Atambaev has rejected all charges, calling them politically motivated.