How the relatives of Kyrgyzstan's chief pharmacologist earn millions through the supply of medical goods. And also, thanks to "imitation of competition"



The relatives of the Head of the Department of Medicines and Medical Products, Nurdin Kagazdiev, periodically win medical tenders worth millions of Soms, in some cases by competing with each other.

Journalists studied thousands of tenders and found out that over a period of six and a half years, companies associated with the relatives of the Head of the Department of Medicines and Medical Products (DMMP), Nurdin Kagazdiev, have won medical tenders worth more than 350 million Soms.

Of the total number of tenders won, contracts for 7 million Soms were awarded thanks to what experts call "imitation of competition," while other public procurements for more than 130 million Soms have indications of a conflict of interest between the supplier and the procuring agency.

Until April 2022, the Law on Public Procurement prohibited companies with the same founder and manager to participate in tenders. However, the firms of Kagazdiev's relatives formally circumvented this prohibition by registering companies in the name of different family members and relatives.

Despite the fact that maneuvers involving relatives in state procurements have become considered a violation after the adoption of the new law, experts believe that the participation of firms belonging to the official's relatives in the same tenders can be called "imitation of competition" under the previous version of the law as well.

«You can ask your close relative, say: "Come on, take part, I'll put five Soms cheaper, you quote a higher price, we'll split the tender in half". If each tender, each lot is handled like this, we see that over the year we get significant amounts, it is not a hundred million, but more. There is no other reason to create several companies»
Gulmira Abdyrazakova
Chairwoman of Board of Forum on Transparency and Accountability in Public Procurement
Journalists were able to find at least six companies that were run or owned by different relatives of Kagazdiev, including his father, cousin (she), cousin (he), aunt and sister of his wife.

Founder: Nuriya Toktogulova (Kagazdiyev's cousin)
Director: Nuriya Toktogulova
Trusted Person: Torobek Asan uulu (Kagazdiyev's cousin)
Amount of contracts won: 228 million soms
With whom competition is imitated: «Adinai», «ElChi Farm», «Intermed Ltd», «Takens»
«Fameko» (formerly «Camelin Asia»)
«Intermed Ltd» (formerly «Leader Asia»)
«ElChi Farm»
«Erzat Nur»
Founder: Maratbek Kagazdiyev (Kagazdiyev's father)
Director: Maratbek Kagazdiyev
Amount of contracts won: 35 million soms
With whom competition is imitated: «ElChi Farm», «Fameko», «Intermed Ltd»
Founder: Cholpon Kachkanakova (Kagazdiyev's sister-in-law)
Director: Cholpon Kachkanakova
Amount of contracts won: 71.8 million soms
With whom competition is imitated: «Adinai», «Fameko», «Takens»
Founders: Nuriya Toktogulova (Kagazdiyev's cousin), Kuluipa Kagazdiyeva (Kagazdiyev's aunt)
Director: Aidarbek Sagadylda uulu (Toktogulova's son-in-law)
Trusted Person: Torobek Asan uulu (Kagazdiyev's cousin)
Amount of contracts won: 612 thousand soms
With whom competition is imitated: «ElChi Farm», «Fameko», «Intermed Ltd»
Founder: Zarema Kamchybekova
Director: Nuriya Toktogulova (Kagazdiyev's cousin)
Amount of contracts won: 3.8 million soms
With whom competition is imitated: «Fameko», «Adinai», «Takens»
Founder: Ulukbek Kagazdiyev (Kagazdiyev's cousin)
Director: Almaz Temirbekov
Amount of contracts won: 3.2 million soms

Who are the owners of the companies in relation to Nurdin Kagazdiev and at what amounts there were tenders which they won between May 2016 and July 2022

Potential conflict of interest

The very fact of having relatives engaged in business in the same area, where Kagazdiev has worked, indicates a conflict of interest, of which the official had to declare for an official investigation

The official's relatives not only own companies that win tenders, but they also own pharmacies and import medical goods and equipment - all of these are supervised by Kagazdiev's organisation.

Experts interviewed believe that such conditions deprive the Head of the Department of impartiality.

"Even if he did not personally sign certification or licensing documents, there would still be no impartiality. Because he could have influenced employees. There should be an internal investigation," - Abdyrazakova said.

Kagazdiev states that there was no official investigation regarding the existence of family ties. According to him, he has no influence on his relatives' wins in tenders, and his family has long been involved in the pharmaceutical business - and their business, as he says, is not going very well right now.

«Look, my dad opened a company in Talas in 1993, I'm not going to lie. My dad, when he was delivering goods, I was little and helped him. I was the only son at home. They did everything for me. They used to work well before. Now they have almost no work, there is a lot of competition. There are two or three pharmacies left and that's it, and they will close soon.»
Nurdin Kagazdiev
Director of the Department of Medicines and Medical Products

It is difficult to verify Kagazdiev's words in practice. However, we can say that one of his relatives' companies in April last year almost got the preferential right to supply medical and other goods to state institutions without tenders.

This measure to make the list was explained by the need to avoid bureaucratic mechanisms during the coronavirus pandemic, when medical and other institutions needed medicines and protective equipment, and by the decline in economic performance in several sectors.

In this case, Fameco company (formerly Kamelin Asia) was proposed to be allowed to supply medical masks, respirators, protective coveralls, shoe covers, medical gowns, medical caps, and special clothing without tenders.

However, the initiative was ultimately not adopted - a representative of the Department of Public Procurement said that the document "is just standing there now".

Prior to the consideration of this draft decree, one of the companies belonging to the official's relatives, Intermed LTD, had already actively participated in tenders to combat the coronavirus. For 2020, it ranked among the top five companies that utilized nearly 20 percent of the total COVID-19-related procurement budget, with contracts worth more than 900 000 USD (69 million Soms) to provide hospitals with protective equipment, medicines, consumables, and other medical supplies.

Frequent contractor for NCMCW

One of the most frequent clients of companies associated with Kagazdiev's relatives is the National Center for Maternal and Child Welfare (NCMCW).

There, the firms of the chief pharmacist's relatives have won contracts worth 133 million Soms. Also, several key complaints against the companies belonging to Kagazdiev's relatives are associated with the NCMCW.

The Chamber of Accounts found out in 2017 that Fameco company ("Kamelin Asia") had supplied equipment at the price almost three times higher than the factory price, which was about 6 million Soms.

"In fact, according to the acts of acceptance and invoices Kamelin Asia Ltd. supplied the identical equipment with the same brand name to the NCMCW but now at the price of 14.5 million Soms", - the report says.

In the summer of 2022, in another complaint from Fameco's competitor - company "Amika" wrote that they do not understand how the company owned by Kagazdiev's relatives won the tender for 57 million Soms without complying with the requirements.

"[...] how is it that the company that meets the qualification requirements of the procuring organization became non-compliant, and the company that does not comply becomes compliant?" - "Amika's representative wrote.

Nuriya Toktogulova, a cousin of the official, confirms that companies registered to her and other relatives have won national center tenders. However, she does not consider this an imitation of competition.

«We can participate with everybody. Whoever submits an application, that's who will participate. I can't forbid my brother to participate»
Nuriya Toktogulova

One of the companies where Toktogulova is listed as a director, ElChi Pharm, was suspected of having family ties between its management and the former Director of the NCMCW, Kamchibek Uzakbaev. This company also periodically won tenders of the national center.

According to Toktogulova, she no longer works at ElChi Pharm, and she was not even acquainted with the founder of the company, Zarema Kamchybekova. Journalists could not find direct links between the owner and the former director of the national center, except that Kamchybekova and Uzakbaev's son are the founders of the same political party "El talaby".

However, Toktogulova admits that she knows Uzakbaev well, saying that this acquaintance helped her also to register the national center's pharmacy in her name.

«I asked him (Uzakbaev) for a long time for these pharmacies. Those who had worked there before me were running out of lease, and he gave me the premises. [...] When I left ElChi Pharm, I re-registered them to my own company. Of course, I wanted it to be my own»
Nuriya Toktogulova

Uzakbaev himself was unavailable for comment - he did not respond to calls and social media messages where he could be reached.

Sufficient grounds to investigate

Gulmira Abdyrazakova, Chairwoman of the Board of Forum on Transparency and Accountability in Public Procurement, thinks that there are more than enough reasons to investigate links between companies affiliated with Kagazdiev's relatives and NCMCW.

"Simply on all fronts, to examine and understand where the connections are. That is what anti-corruption measures are for. [...] For example, one medical institution both is involved in procurement and deals with pharmacies... and if a relative is also in charge there, then this issue definitely needs to be checked for corruption," Abdyrazakova said.

One of the lawyers interviewed believes that if the link is found between the supplier and the national center, which could indicate a direct conflict of interest, the former director or other official could be held liable.

"If the procuring agency is state-owned, then yes, it's a direct conflict of interest. Knowing that they are affiliated [...] they should have refused to participate in this tender," said one lawyer who insisted on anonymity.

Medical experts interviewed said that medical tenders are one of the investigated corruption schemes in the healthcare system and that, when they are discovered, tenders are most often revised.

"From my experience of working in the healthcare system for 25 years, I have seen complaints, proceedings related to such cases. If the public, civil activists paid attention to them, such tenders were revised," said Elena Bayalinova, an expert in Kyrgyz healthcare.

Bermet Baryktabasova, a former employee of the healthcare system, said that nepotism in Kyrgyz medicine is a common practice for officials holding positions in the healthcare system:

"There was a big commission set up at the Medicine Supply Department (MSD) and as a result of the investigation several criminal cases were opened against [the former] director. The officials were also found to have affiliations, relatives in the pharmaceutical business, and their own pharmaceutical companies."

According to her, many people know about the relationship of officials with companies, and such networks should be thoroughly checked

"It is necessary [...] to declare incomes, all family ties of medicine officials in the pharmaceutical business, during tender processes - who is distant relative to whom, through a wife or children... This should be kept under control of fiscal authorities", - concludes Baryktabasova.

Nurdin Kagazdiev noted that he is not holding on to power and is ready to leave the post of the Director of the Department at any time.

«I have told and will tell everyone - I do not hold on to power. I tell anyone who comes, I am ready to leave my position at any time. It makes no difference to me where to work. I am from the wealthy family. I don't need anything. Please, if you need a lot - take it. This is my position»
Nurdin Kagazdiev
Director of the Department of Medicines and Medical Products
From the response of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Kyrgyz Republic
From 2012 to June 2022 inclusive, 167 criminal cases related to public procurement were initiated.
  • Criminal cases related to government agencies

  • Criminal cases related to private companies

A significant part of the persons involved in these crimes are officials, employees of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic.


Daniil Lyapichev

Zulaika Erkimbaeva

Ulukman Zhakypbekov


Inna Civirjic

Graphics and layout

Daniil Lyapichev
Illustrations were created with the help of Midjourney artificial intelligence