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A view of the Kumtor gold mine, in Kumtor, 350 kilometres east of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 28, 2021.

Vladimir Voronin/The Associated Press

Kyrgyzstan’s security services have detained a former prime minister in connection with an investigation of corruption involving the huge gold mine that is the country’s largest taxpayer.

A statement from the State Committee for National Security didn’t give details of the potential charges against Omurbek Babanov, who was prime minister in 2011-12.

Kyrgyz media reported that Asylbek Jeenbekov, a brother of the former president, also was detained Monday in the case.

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Centerra Gold accuses former director of conspiring to steal Kumtor mine

Centerra moves to block Kyrgyzstan government from selling shares after Kumtor mine nationalized

The investigation centres on the Kumtor gold mine, which has long been a controversial operation in Kyrgyzstan because of alleged environmental violations and strong sentiment that the government should nationalize it.

In early May, the parliament passed a law allowing the state to take control of the mine for three months from its Canada-based operator Centerra and a court levied a US$3-billion fine for environmental claims.

The mine accounts for more than 12 per cent of the former Soviet Central Asian country’s economy, according to Centerra.

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