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Second Ex-PM Jailed As Kyrgyz Power-Plant Corruption Case Grows

Former Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev
Former Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev

BISHKEK – Kyrgyz authorities have jailed a second former prime minister in a corruption case that is making waves in the Central Asian country.

The State Committee for National security (UKMK) said that Jantoro Satybaldiev was placed in a detention center on June 18.

Satybaldiev, who held office under then-President Almazbek Atambaev from 2012-14, is the second former prime minister to be arrested in a graft case that stems from modernization work at a power plant in Bishkek.

Former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov
Former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov

Sapar Isakov was jailed on June 5, along with former Bishkek mayor Kubanychbek Kulmatov. Former Energy Minister Osmonbek Artykbaev has also been arrested in the same case.

Isakov, who was appointed prime minister by Atambaev in August 2017, lost his job after his cabinet was dismissed in April following a no-confidence vote.

Kulmatov served as a presidential adviser and as governor of the northern Chui region in 2013 and was the mayor of Bishkek between 2014-16. Artykbaev served as energy minister between 2013-14.

The charges against the former officials stem from 2013 when they were involved in implementing a project to modernize the Bishkek Thermal Power Station. Isakov was deputy head of Atambaev's administration at the time.

The three are accused of allegedly using their positions to lobby for the interests of a Chinese company in the selection process of a contractor for the modernization of the power plant, inflicting damage on the Kyrgyz state and society.

The Chinese company TBEA was selected as the winner of the tender.

The case was launched after an accident at the Bishkek power station in January left thousands of households in the capital without heat for several days last winter.

The case is playing out amid tension between Atambaev and current President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, an ex-prime minister who was tapped by Atambaev as his favored successor in Kyrgyzstan's October 2017 presidential election but who has clashed with his former boss in recent months.

Atambaev, who was limited to a single six-year term by the constitution, initially kept a low profile after leaving office in November. But following his election as head of the ruling Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) on March 31, he has publicly criticized Jeenbekov on several occasions.

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