TASHKENT -- Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov has replaced the leadership at a large industrial facility controlled by the clan of influential tycoon, Kazakhstan-based Uzbek-Belgian billionaire Patokh Shodiev.
Aripov visited the Uzbekistan Metallurgic Plant in the eastern city of Bekobod on January 20, where he announced at the gathering of the facility's administration that plant director Jahongir Mustafoev was being removed and will be replaced by Rashid Pirmatov.
Employees of the plant who attended the gathering told RFE/RL that Aripov also removed Sergei Chaikovsky from the post of deputy director and appointed Dilshod Ahmedov in his place.
Patokh Shodiev's brother, Qobul Shodiev, who is the director of the SFI Management Group, which has operated the metallurgic facility since January 2017, was not present at the gathering held by Aripov.
According to some employees, the move could be a sign that Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev's government intends to remove SFI Management from the country’s metallurgical sector.
A spokesperson for the SFI Management Group refused to comment on Aripov's decisions, saying that the company had yet to receive any formal notification of what happened at the gathering.
Separately on January 20, an explosion killed three people at another facility operated by the SFI Management group -- the Yangi Angren Thermal Power Station in the Uzbek town of Nurobod in the Tashkent region.
Investigators are working on finding the cause of the deadly blast.