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Former Top Uzbek Prosecutor Detained On Graft Charges

Rashidjon Qodirov was Uzbekistan's prosecutor-general for 15 years. (file photo)

Uzbek authorities say the country's former prosecutor-general, Rashidjon Qodirov, is being investigated for alleged extortion, bribery, and abuse of office.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office said in a statement on February 24 that Qodirov was detained the previous day.

It did not provide further details of the case.

Qodirov is the latest in a series of top government officials who have been caught up in an apparent purge by the administration of President Shavkat Mirziyoev.

On February 22, an official with the Prosecutor-General's Office told RFE/RL that Qodirov had been arrested, and was being questioned by investigators in Tashkent.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said two other former prosecution officials, who worked under Qodirov, were also arrested on February 22.

The moves come roughly three years after Qodirov was sacked amid a purge of officials connected to the investigation of Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of late President Islam Karimov.

Karimova has been imprisoned since 2014, and was reportedly sentenced last year, for a multinational, multiyear bribery extortion campaign that ensnared, among other things, major telecommunications companies.

Qodirov, who served as the country's top law enforcement official for 15 years, was the prosecutor at the helm in 2014 when Karimova was charged.

Qodirov's arrest also comes about 10 days after his son, Alisher, fled the country.

Under Islam Karimov, who ruled the country with an iron fist after the Soviet collapse, Uzbekistan had largely become isolated and economically stagnant.

Since succeeding Karimov after his death in 2016, Mirziyoev has publicly criticized government agencies, and moved to sack or remove large numbers of officials.

At a meeting of ministers in August 2017, the Uzbek president called officials at the Prosecutor-General's Office "the biggest thieves."

The country's finance minister has reportedly dismissed some 1,000 employees since December, after being called out publicly by Mirziyoev.

More recently, on January 31, Mirziyoev removed the long-serving head of the country's powerful SNB security service.

With reporting by Reuters