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Russia’s MTS asks Uzbek president to help normalize situation around its Uzbek subsidiary

July 31, 2012, 21:43 UTC+3

Uzdunrobit’s license has been suspended for three months, while the company has been subject for endless checks and inspections for three months

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MOSCOW, July 31 (Itar-Tass) —— President of Russia’s telecom operator MTS Andrei Dubrovsky on Tuesday sent an official letter to President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov asking to help normalize the work of MTS’ subsidiary in that country, Uzdumrobit, the biggest mobile operator in Uzbekistan.

Uzdunrobit’s license has been suspended for three months, while the company has been subject for endless checks and inspections for three months.

“We are ready to urgently discuss the situation with Uzbekistan’s government officials you may appoint in order to settle issues around Uzunrobit,” the letter says.

According to the document, from 2004 till June 2012, Uzdunrobit carried out its activities in a regular regime, in line with practices generally accepted at the moment of its purchase by MTS and in full conformity with Uzbekistan’s laws. The company had no conflicts with Uzbekistan’s state authorities during that period.

“But starting from June 2012, the situation has changed dramatically, and unjustified actions by Uzbekistan’s state agencies, such as large-scale repeated audit inspections of Uzdunrobit’s activities, seizure of documents and interrogations of its employees, endanger the mere existence of MTS’s business in Uzbekistan,” the company said.

MTS described as glaring injustice the arrest of the company’s five top managers, including Russian citizen Radik Dautov who had been the company’s acting senior executive for only several days.

According to MTS, for undeclared reasons, the prosecutor general’s office is currently making an “independent” audit and inventory of the company’s fixed assets while assets of its two regional offices, including high technology equipment, have been seized by local prosecution agencies.

“If Uzdunrobit’s license is not resumed in the shortest time and the company does not get back to its normal activity, MTS, as a public company defending legal interests and rights of its Russian and foreign investors, will have to take necessary legal actions to protect its valuable investments in Uzbekistan and interests of its employees and subscribers. We reserve all the rights and means of legal protection,” the company president said in the letter.

On July 17, Uzbekistan suspended Uzdunrobit license for a term of ten days.

For this period, the MTS subsidiary was banned to offer any services to Uzbek citizens and carry out any other types of activity, such as building and operating its networks. As of the end of the first quarter of 2012, Uzdunrobit’s subscribers amounted to 9.5 million, and its profits accounted for 3.8 percent of MTS’ overall earnings.

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