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Kyrgyzstan's Grand Mufti Resigns Amid Corruption Scandal

Maksatbek Hajji Toktomushev's position will be filled by his deputy until a replacement can be elected.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's top Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Maksatbek Hajji Toktomushev, has resigned after his accountant was detained on corruption charges.

Toktomushev, who in his capacity was also head of Kyrgyzstan's Religious Directorate -- the state agency in charge of Islamic affairs -- handed in his resignation on February 10.

The directorate's press office told RFE/RL that Toktomushev's place will be temporarily taken by his deputy until a replacement is elected.

Earlier in the day, the State Committee for National Security (UKMK) announced that the directorate's chief accountant, whose identity was not disclosed, had been arrested on suspicion of misusing the equivalent of almost $2 million raised by believers.

"As investigators were beginning to dig into financial irregularities, the Religious Directorate attempted to conceal some facts, offering a UKMK officer a $100,000 bribe in exchange for dropping the case," the UKMK statement said, adding that the accountant's was arrested on February 9 as he attempted to bribe the officer.

The directorate's press office told RFE/RL that it won't publicly comment on the case until after the trial.

The majority of the Central Asian nation's population of 6 million are Sunni Muslims.