Two Former Kyrgyz Prime Ministers Receive Prison Terms

BISHKEK -- A court has sentenced former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov to 15 years in prison on corruption charges stemming from his involvement in a 2013 project to modernize the Bishkek Thermal Power Station.

Presiding Sverdlovsky District Court judge Inara Gilyazetdinova said in rendering the verdict on December 6 that Isakov’s penalty includes the confiscation of property he owns as well as stripping him of his diplomatic status.

The high-profile corruption trial has implicated several former top Kyrgyz officials who allegedly are close associates of former President Almazbek Atambaev.

Gilyazetdinova handed down a 7 1/2-year prison sentence in the case to another former prime minister, Jantoro Satybaldiev, while Aibek Kaliev, the former chief of the National Energy Holding, was given 15 years.

Several other former officials were sentenced to shorter prison terms of 2 1/2 years, while some others were handed fines.

The defendants were accused of allegedly using their positions to lobby for the interests of a Chinese company in the selection process of a contractor for the modernization of the power plant, inflicting damage on the Kyrgyz state and society.

The Chinese company TBEA was selected as the winner of the tender.

The case was launched after an accident at the Bishkek power station in January last year left thousands of households in the capital without heat for several days.

The probe was launched amid tensions between Atambaev and current incumbent President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, an ex-prime minister who was tapped by Atambaev as his favored successor in Kyrgyzstan's October 2017 presidential election.

Atambaev was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following two days of violent resistance following his refusal to show up in police headquarters for questioning in an unrelated case.