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Brother Of Wanted Former Osh Mayor Arrested On Fraud Charge

Fomer Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov, whose whereabouts are unknown
Fomer Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov, whose whereabouts are unknown

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- A brother of the controversial former mayor of Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, Osh, has been arrested on fraud charges.

Melis Myrzakmatov's brother Kenesh and three alleged associates are suspected of illegally collecting some $140,000 from residents of the southern city and promising them apartments built after deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in June 2010.

Osh City and Regional Interior Department spokesman Jenish Ashyrbaev told RFE/RL on May 5 that a fifth suspect is at large.

The apartments were built at the state's expense and earmarked for people who lost their homes in the ethnic violence, which followed the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev during protests in the capital, Bishkek, in April 2010.

Longtime Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov was the only prominent official with ties to Bakiev who managed to hold onto his post after the president's ouster and the clashes in Osh.

The Central Asian nation's government managed to sack the mayor in December 2013, after several fruitless attempts.

Melis Myrzakmatov failed to regain his post in a January 2014 election and later disappeared after Kyrgyz authorities began investigating allegations that he ordered illegal infrastructure projects.

He is wanted by the authorities and his whereabouts are unknown.

Representatives of the Uluttar Birimdigi (Peoples' Unity) party, which was founded by Melis Myrzakmatov in Osh, declined to comment to RFE/RL on Kenesh Myrzakmatov's arrest.

More than 400 people were killed and thousands were displaced during the ethnic clashes in Osh and another southern city, Jalal-Abad. Dozens remain missing.

Bakiev fled to Belarus.

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