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Kyrgyz Officials Deny Dropping Charges Against Ex-President Akaev

Ex-President Askar Akaev talks to reporters after returning to Kyrgyzstan in August.
Ex-President Askar Akaev talks to reporters after returning to Kyrgyzstan in August.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz security officials have contradicted former President Askar Akaev's recent claim that charges against him in the high-profile Kumtor gold-mine case had been dropped.

The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said in a statement late on December 21 that a new charge had been filed against Akaev in connection with the Kumtor investigation.

In an interview with the Moskovsky komsomolets newspaper on December 21, Akaev, who traveled to Bishkek last week for the second time since August for questioning in the case, stated that all charges against him had been dropped and he can visit Kyrgyzstan freely now.

The day before, his associate Bolot Talgarbekov told RFE/RL that Akaev had left Bishkek for Moscow after the questioning, adding that all charges against the former president had been dropped.

"Statements by some individuals who do not have reliable information about the ongoing investigation should be considered publicity stunts aiming to influence and manipulate society. The UKMK informs the public that investigations of the activities of all suspects, including Askar Akaev, in the Kumtor case continue," the UKMK said.

Kumtor, one of the world's largest gold mines, has been a target of financial and environmental disagreements for years and is currently the subject of an ongoing battle for control between the Kyrgyz state and the mine's operator, Canadian Centerra Gold.

The UKMK said in July that Akaev and another exiled former president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, had been added to an international wanted list as part of the Kumtor corruption probe.

According to the UKMK, Centerra Gold paid bribes to top Kyrgyz officials, including Akaev, Bakiev, and another former president, Almazbek Atambaev, who is currently imprisoned on separate charges.

Akaev fled to Russia during the so-called Tulip Revolution in 2005. He was president from 1990-2005 but since his departure had avoided returning to Kyrgyzstan even for the burial of close relatives.

Bakiev has been in exile in Belarus since being toppled by protests in 2010.

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