Russia’s foreign ministry has officially informed the Uzbek government of its concerns regarding the recent suspension of MTS Uzbekistan’s operating licences and the arrests of MTS officials. Fox Business reports that the ministry’s missive described Tashkent’s decision to take into custody the general director of the Russian-backed cellco and Russian citizen, Radik Dautov, as a ‘severe sanction.’ As previously noted by CommsUpdate, the Uzbek government has suspended MTS’s operating licences, citing a number of technical violations as well as a number of more serious crimes, such as money laundering. The accusations follow a similar pattern to previous government shakedowns, where foreign-owned businesses in Uzbekistan have been forced to close down, with their assets handed off to a member of the nation’s ruling elite. For MTS, the situation echoes its recent experience in Turkmenistan where government pressure saw the operator remain inactive for a year before it could strike a deal with Ashgabat.
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