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Kyrgyz Ex-PM Babanov Released From Custody For Medical Treatment Abroad

Former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, who was detained in late May as part of an investigation into corruption during the development of the Kumtor gold mine project, has been released from custody in order to receive medical treatment abroad.

The State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said on July 27 that Babanov was released due to an unspecified medical condition and is being allowed to receive medical treatment abroad. It was not immediately clear where the 51-year-old politician would travel for treatment.

The UKMK accuses Babanov of corruption in the case related to the Kumtor gold mine, which is operated by Canada's Centerra Gold company.

Babanov has rejected the charges as "absurd." Several other former officials and current lawmakers were also arrested in the case.

The Kyrgyz government has temporarily taken over control of the Kumtor gold mine in what President Sadyr Japarov has said was a necessary move to address environmental and safety violations.

Centerra has called Kyrgyzstan's actions "wrongful and illegal."

In May, the Canadian firm said it had "initiated binding arbitration to enforce its rights under long-standing investment agreements with the government."