A mobile phone company in Tajikistan has appointed a disgraced former government official from neighboring Kyrgyzstan as its general director.
According to a June 11 report in Asia-Plus newspaper, Beeline Tajikistan, a mobile telecommunications operator recently acquired by Tajik company ZET Mobile Limited, will be headed by Almazbek Kadyrkulov.
Kadyrkulov’s appointment occurred in parallel with the final touches being put to ZET Mobile Limited’s acquisition of the brand from Netherlands-based holding company Veon Ltd. The commercial terms of the deal have not been made public.
As RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service, Radio Azattyk, has reported, Kadyrkulov has previously filled several positions in Kyrgyzstan and left most of them under a dark cloud.
He began his career under President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was overthrown in a bloody revolt in April 2010. According to Radio Azattyk, while serving as deputy Education Minister, Kadyrkulov oversaw a $2.3 million tender to produce schoolbooks that was eventually won by a company linked to Bakiyev’s notoriously corrupt son, Maxim. The books were never published and it is not clear how that investigation turned out.
In 2009, he went on to become a member of the board at Manas airport in Bishkek. While in that job, he reportedly was involved in a shady fuel deal, again involving a company linked to the Bakiyevs, that cost the state around 150 million som ($3.4 million at the time).
His post-Bakiyev career has also come in for flak. His two-year stint as head of the Fund for the Management of State Assets, which ended in June 2016, was marked by a particularly aggressive drive to sell off state-owned assets deemed to be loss-making. These included stakes in Kyrgyzstan Airlines, Kyrgyz Mobile Company and an alcohol manufacturing plant in the town of Kara-Balta. The scope and scale of the sell-off irked many who felt it went too far and others, like Kadyrkulov’s bosses in the government, who thought he was not doing his job well or fast enough.
In the end, after sustaining a barrage of criticism from then-Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Kadyrkulov tendered his resignation. He is not known to have filled any government jobs since that time.
Contacted by media following his appointment to the Beeline Tajikistan gig, Kadyrkulov remarked that “our peoples have a similar mentality.”
“This is a kind of challenge. Why not give it a try,” he told RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi.
It is unclear what aspect of shared mentality he was referring it, although it might have been something to do with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s shared experience of ruling families taking over swathes of the private sector.
Although it has not been confirmed officially, ZET Mobile Limited is known to be controlled by Hasan Asadullozoda, the immensely wealthy brother-in-law of President Emomali Rahmon. In addition to interests in telecommunications, Asadullozoda’s assets also allegedly include the Talco aluminum company, OriyonBank and Somon Air.