RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
Former Turkmen Interior Minister Isgender Mulikov, fired by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in October, has been convicted of abuse of power and corruption.
Reading from a piece of paper on a national news broadcast on December 3, Mulikov, wearing black prison clothes and handcuffs, said he was guilty of the accusations against him.
“Because of my greed, I treacherously abused my position and took bribes .... I chose a dishonest path and took bribes in especially large sizes. After identifying my crimes, I was legally prosecuted. I fully admit my misconduct and repent," Mulikov said in the video.
No details of any sentence Mulikov may have received were announced, though the Amsterdam-based website Turkmen.news reported he was handed a prison term of between 20 and 25 years.
Berdymukhammedov sacked Mulikov, who had served since May 2009, during a cabinet meeting on October 1.
The move came moments after Prosecutor-General Batyr Atdaev gave a speech that included allegations of wrongdoing by Mulikov.
Mulikov's driver was immediately arrested as well, and some of the minister’s business interests, which include several restaurants, cafes, and shops in Ashgabat, were confiscated.
Accusations of corruption at the ministry and within Turkmenistan’s judicial authorities have long been seen as a problem, even within the country.
Berdymukhammedov, who has ruled the gas-rich former Soviet republic in Central Asia with an iron fist since the death of his autocratic predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, in December 2006, attempted to clean up the sector in 2017 when he dismissed the prosecutor-general.
Berdymukhammedov also formally reprimanded Mulikov at the time, citing corruption among police officials.
Mammetkhan Chakiyev, a deputy chair of the cabinet, was appointed as Mulikov’s replacement.
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