Kyrgyzstan detains ex-prime minister in mine corruption case

U.S. & World

MOSCOW (AP) — Kyrgyzstan’s security services have detained a former prime minister in connection with an investigation of corruption involving the huge gold mine that is the country’s largest taxpayer.

A statement from the State Committee for National Security didn’t give details of the potential charges against Omurbek Babanov, who was prime minister in 2011-12.

Kyrgyz media reported that Asylbek Jeenbekov, a brother of the former president, also was detained Monday in the case.

The investigation centers on the Kumtor gold mine, which has long been a controversial operation in Kyrgyzstan because of alleged environmental violations and strong sentiment that the government should nationalize it.

In early May, the parliament passed a law allowing the state to take control of the mine for three months from its Canada-based operator Centerra and a court levied a $3 billion fine for environmental claims.

The mine accounts for more than 12% of the former Soviet Central Asian country’s economy, according to Centerra.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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