BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former health minister, Dinara Sagynbaeva, has been detained for questioning about the early release from prison in 2013 of one of Kyrgyzstan’s most notorious crime bosses, Aziz Batukaev, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.
In a May 15 statement, the Interior Ministry said Sagynbaeva “was placed in pretrial detention” on suspicion in involvement in Batukaev’s “illegal early release.”
Sagynbaeva served as health minister when Batukaev was granted his early release after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2013. His diagnosis was later found to have been falsified.
According to the Interior Ministry, several other unnamed former Kyrgyz government officials have also been detained in the case.
Batukaev’s release in April 2013 caused a scandal that led to the resignation of then-Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Atakhanov and the firing of the country’s ombudsman.
Batukaev, an ethnic Chechen, was sentenced in 2006 to nearly 17 years in prison for his involvement in several serious crimes — including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official.
After his release, Batukaev immediately left for Chechnya.
Also on May 15, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (UKMK), Idris Kadyrkulov, resigned under pressure amid widespread allegations of corruption.
Kyrgyzstan’s presidential press service said that President Sooronbai Jeenbekov accepted Kadyrkulov resignation.
Earlier in the day, Kadyrkulov said in a statement that he’d decided to resign to end rumors alleging that he was “interested in a certain result of investigations launched into purchase of blank biometric passports” from a foreign country by Kyrgyzstan’s State Registration Service (MKK).
In early February, the MKK announced that a Lithuanian company, Garsu Pasaulis, had won a tender on printing blank biometric passports for Kyrgyzstan.
But in April, the results of the tender were canceled and the UKMK launched an investigation into alleged irregularities that bolstered the Lithuanian firm’s bid.
The MKK’s chairwoman, Alina Shaikova, was fired and her two deputies were arrested in mid-April in the wake of the probe.
Doubts about Kadyrkulov’s objectivity in the ongoing investigation were sparked this week when Shaikova announced that Kadyrkulov had organized her meeting in December with representatives of a European company involved in printing state documents.
On May 14, the UKMK confirmed that Kadyrkulov had organized the December meeting. But it said the gathering had nothing to do with the investigation into the passport scandal.