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Kyrgyzstan To Probe Alleged Corruption By Russians In MegaCom

MegaCom is Kyrgyzstan's largest provider of communications services.
MegaCom is Kyrgyzstan's largest provider of communications services.
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva has created a special investigative team to probe alleged financial misdeeds at the country's leading communication services provider, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Otunbaeva said on March 16 that experts from Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security, Interior Ministry, and financial police will make up the new investigative group that will look into the affairs of MegaCom.

A MegaCom spokesperson told RFE/RL on March 16 that the company is again being run by Andrei Silich.

Silich and another former MegaCom manager, Aleksandr Borozdin, had fled Kyrgyzstan before a criminal investigation was opened against them in January over embezzlement allegations.

The two men represented Eventis Telecom, which controls the Russian shares in MegaCom.

Silich told journalists on March 15 that the criminal case against him has been dropped and all investigations into the case have been halted.

But the Kyrgyz government's appointed supervisor of MegaCom, Azamat Murzaliev, told Kyrgyzstan's news agency on March 16 that Silich "has regained the control over the company by force."

According to Murzaliev, the Kyrgyz financial police "have revealed the facts confirming that Silich and his people had illegally sent some $3 million [from MegaCom] abroad."

Murzaliev claimed there are other data that prove Silich and his team have been involved in fraudulent activities at MegaCom.

MegaCom employees supporting Silich did not allow Murzaliev to enter the company's headquarters on March 16. They started collecting signatures under a petition addressed to Otunbaeva demanding that Silich be the company's only CEO.

Iskhak Pirmatov, a parliament deputy from the Respublika party, told RFE/RL last week that the results of a preliminary government investigation found that Eventis Telecom had taken some $27 million from MegaCom since April 2010.

Alfa Telekom, which was founded by Aleksei Yeliseyev, took over MegaCom in 2008. Yeliseyev is an associate of Maksim Bakiev, son of deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Yeliseyev fled Kyrgyzstan after violent antigovernment protests in Bishkek toppled the president in April and has reportedly been living in Latvia since then.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government officially requested Yeliseyev's extradition in July.

After Bakiev was ousted, the interim Kyrgyz government took a 49 percent stake in MegaCom and Eventis Telecom assumed the remaining 51 percent.

Last week, visiting Russian State Duma deputies Aleksei Ostrovsky and Semyon Bagdasarov stated in Bishkek that a campaign led by Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov "to deprive Russian businessmen of their [stake in MegaCom]" is having a "negative impact on Russian-Kyrgyz relations."

Some Kyrgyz politicians objected to the visit and comments made by the Russian Duma deputies and charged them with gross interference in Kyrgyz internal affairs.

Read more in Kyrgyz here