Beeline spectrum deal under scrutiny in telecoms probe as PM quits

19 Jun 2020

Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev has resigned following allegations of state corruption in the telecoms sector regarding the sale and transfer of wireless frequencies, although he denied any wrongdoing, stating in his resignation note: ‘I have nothing to do with this case, and the accusations made against me have no basis. I am confident that the investigation will put everything in its place and identify the people truly violating the law.’ As reported by Eurasianet, MP Janar Akayev has led the accusations in parliament, alleging that Abylgaziev’s government has been selling mobile frequencies at below-market prices, which the PM’s office denied.

In April this year the State Committee for National Security began an investigation into the sale of radio spectrum licences, allegedly prompted by a series of deals involving Kyrgyz operator Sky Mobile (Beeline). In March Beeline reportedly bought assets from cable TV operator Ala-TV including a ‘200MHz band’ of spectrum, for USD1.8 million before repurposing the frequencies ‘for 4G communications’ for a token cost via permission from the State Communications Agency (SCA), overseen by the State Committee for Information Technology & Communications (SCITC). Critics such as Akayev contend that such transactions have cost the Kyrgyz state ‘dozens of millions of dollars’ in potential revenue.

In May, former SCA head Natalya Chernogubova was placed in custody under the investigation into alleged corruption, and local news site 24.kg reported a series of further arrests in June, including the founder of Ala-TV Arthur Khaldarov and the deputy chairman of the SCITC Maksat Dzhylyshbaev. SCITC head Dastan Dogoyev was not detained but was instead questioned as a witness.