Following Protests, Authorities Rearrest Kyrgyz Powerbroker Matraimov

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (UKMK) has rearrested Raimbek Matraimov, the controversial former deputy chief of the Customs Service, days after demonstrators in Bishkek…

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (UKMK) has rearrested Raimbek Matraimov, the controversial former deputy chief of the Customs Service, days after demonstrators in Bishkek protested against what they saw as a lenient sentence handed to him on corruption charges.

The UKMK officials told RFE/RL on February 18 that Matraimov was arrested due to an ongoing probe launched into money laundering.

The UKMK move comes four days after hundreds rallied in the Kyrgyz capital, protesting a Bishkek court ruling last week that ordered a mitigated sentence and no jail time for Matraimov.

Matraimov, who was placed on the U.S. Magnitsky sanctions list for his involvement in the illegal funneling of hundreds of millions of dollars abroad, was fined just over $3,000 after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

The court said on February 11 that Matraimov had paid back around $24 million, which disappeared through corruption schemes that he oversaw.

In June 2019, an investigation by RFE/RL, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and Kloop implicated Matraimov in a corruption scheme involving the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars out of Kyrgyzstan by Chinese-born Uyghur businessman Aierken Saimaiti, who was subsequently assassinated in Istanbul in November 2019.

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