JIZZAX, Uzbekistan -- The deputy governor of the eastern Uzbek region of Jizzax, Akram Rahmonqulov, who was detained last week on suspicion of neglecting his duties after being criticized by President Shavkat Mirziyoev, faces new charges.
An official at the regional prosecutor's office told RFE/RL on January 19 that in all, Rahmonqulov now faced four charges, including embezzlement and the violation of construction regulations.
"If convicted, he may face up to 20 years in prison. I cannot say anything else, as the case materials are classified," the official said, adding that about 10 other people had been charged with various misdeeds in the case.
Rahmonqulov was arrested on January 15, four days after Mirziyoev harshly criticized him and publicly accused him of "betraying presidential politics" over the collapse of a high-rise residential building under construction in the regional capital, Jizzax, and allegations that Rahmonqulov-affililated companies had been involved in public procurement projects in the region.
Some members of the regional council and other officials told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that Rahmonqulov was being made "a scapegoat" by local authorities who are trying to avoid responsibility for the collapsed building.
Rahmonqulov, who has served as the Jizzax region's deputy governor responsible for industrial development, construction, and communications since 2018, is believed to be the highest-ranking official facing criminal charges since Mirziyoev came to power in 2016 following the death of his predecessor, Islam Karimov.