BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities have charged former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov of corruption in a case related to modernization work at a power plant in the capital, Bishkek.
The announcement was made after the State Committee for National Security (UKMK) summoned Isakov on May 29 for a third time in the case since his cabinet was dismissed last month following a no-confidence vote.
After almost six hours of interrogation in Bishkek, UKMK official Rakhat Sulaimanov said Isakov was indicted and barred from leaving Kyrgyzstan.
Isakov expressed "shock" and claimed innocence, describing the case against him as "completely illegal." He also denounced a campaign in social networks and the media aimed at denigrating his name.
The charge stems back to 2013, when Isakov was implementing a project to modernize the Bishkek Thermal Power Station while serving as deputy head of the administration of President Almazbek Atambaev.
He is accused of using his position to lobby for the interests of a Chinese company in the selection process to find a contractor for the modernization of the power plant, inflicting great damage on the Kyrgyz state and society.
The Chinese company TBEA has been selected as the winner of the tender.
The case was launched after an accident at the Bishkek power station in January left thousands of households in the capital without heat for several days last winter.
Isakov had suggested he believed the state may mount a corruption case against former officials over the heating outages, but said Atambaev and his team had “worked in a clean way, with no corruption whatsoever."
The 41-year-old is considered to be a close associate of Atambaev.
The pressure on Isakov was seen as one of several examples of an ongoing rift between President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and his predecessor, Atambaev, who backed Jeenbekov in the October presidential election but has criticized him in recent weeks.
Last month, Jeenbekov fired several Atambaev allies, including Prosecutor-General Indira Joldubaeva and UKMK head Abdil Segizbaev, who had been criticized for a crackdown on opposition politicians and independent journalists.