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Archive for Kazakhstan

Newsline: US top diplomat travels to Central Asia

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Central Asia Tuesday to meet officials from all five former Soviet republics following the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Blinken’s visit to the capitals of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is his first to the region as the Biden administration’s top diplomat. (https://neuters.de/world/blinken-hold-talks-with-central-asian-nations-wake-ukraine-anniversary-2023-02-28/) Leaders in the region have been emboldened to stand up to Russia by their new-found leverage as Moscow looks to their markets and trade routes in a bid to circumvent Western sanctions. Blinken will meet the foreign ministers of all five Central Asian states in Astana on Tuesday before traveling on to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. U.S. officials say the Biden administration has stepped up engagement with the region in an effort to demonstrate the benefits of U.S. cooperation to countries facing economic fallout from the conflict to the west.

Newsline: Kazakhstan evacuates embassy in Ukraine

The Government of Kazakhstan said Tuesday that it had begun evacuating workers from its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kiev facing increased shelling by Russian forces. Aibek Smadiyarov, spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, pointed out that “the problem is not to close or not to close the Embassy but to evacuate the workers”. (https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/kazakhstan-evacuates-its-embassy-in-ukraine-amid-increased-shelling-by-russia/) “As you can see, yesterday the Embassy issued a number of alerts and messages to help in some way. During the first evacuation many people left, so right now we don’t know the exact number of people,” he said. However, he has indicated that the matter “will be resolved in the coming days”. “The evacuation will be completed by then,” he said, according to information reported by the TengriNews portal. He has also indicated that the authorities are trying to clarify the number of Kazakh residents currently working in the country.

Newsline: Kazakhstan rejects Russian demand to expel Ukrainian ambassador

Kazakh authorities rejected a demand from Russia that they expel Ukraine’s ambassador over comments about killing Russians. Tensions escalated after Ukraine’s ambassador in Astana, Petro Vrublevskiy, said in August in an interview with a local blogger, referring to the war in Ukraine, that “the more Russians we kill now, the fewer of them our children will have to kill”. Russia demanded that Kazakhstan expel the diplomat in response, but Astana instead asked Kyiv to replace him, telling him his comments were unacceptable for a country with a large ethnic Russian minority. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday said Moscow was “outraged” by the fact that Vrublevskiy was still in Astana, and had summoned the Kazakh ambassador. (https://www.reuters.com/world/kazakhstan-snubs-russian-demand-expel-ukrainian-ambassador-2022-10-05/) Kazakh foreign ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov on Wednesday called Zakharova’s tone “discordant with the nature of the allied relations between Kazakhstan and Russia as equal strategic partners”, adding that the Russian ambassador would in turn be summoned to the Kazakh ministry.

Newsline: Kazakhstan denies Chinese embassy’s reports of pneumonia deadlier than coronavirus

Kazakhstan dismissed as incorrect a warning by China’s embassy for its citizens to guard against an outbreak of pneumonia in the central Asian nation that it described as being more lethal than the coronavirus. In a statement late on its official WeChat account, the Chinese embassy flagged a “significant increase” in cases in the Kazakh cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June. However, Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry branded Chinese media reports based on the embassy statement as “fake news”. “The information published by some Chinese media regarding a new kind of pneumonia in Kazakhstan is incorrect,” the ministry said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-kazakhstan-pneumon/chinas-kazakhstan-embassy-warns-citizens-of-pneumonia-deadlier-than-covid-19-idUSKBN24B0XR?il=0) Kazakhstan, which imposed a second lockdown this week to rein in the pandemic, has a tally of almost 55,000 COVID-19 infections, including 264 deaths. The number of new cases rose on Thursday to a daily record of 1,962. The state news agency Kazinform said the number of pneumonia cases “increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019”. In its statement, the Chinese embassy had said pneumonia in Kazakhstan killed 1,772 people in the year’s first half, with 628 deaths in June, including Chinese citizens. “The mortality rate of the disease is much higher than that of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus,” it said.

Newsline: Kazakh Embassy Employee Found Dead In Cairo

Kazakh authorities have confirmed the death of an employee of the country’s embassy in Egypt. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov told reporters in Nur-Sultan on December 17 that the death of Elaman Zholdasov in Cairo is being investigated by Egyptian officials. Detailed information about the case will be made public on December 18, Smadiyarov said. Earlier media reports said Zholdasov’s body was found near his apartment block in the Egyptian capital on November 13. His cousin, Gulnara Pernebekova, was quoted as saying the body bore “multiple injuries,” the hands were “tied behind his back,” and a rope was “around his neck.” (https://www.rferl.org/a/kazakh-embassy-employee-found-dead-in-cairo/30330388.html) Pernebekova claimed that Zholdasov’s family had been informed that the Egyptian investigators were considering “suicide” as a possible cause for the death.

Newsline: Kazakh President Appoints His Brother-In-Law As Ambassador To Bulgaria

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has appointed his brother-in-law Temirtai Izbastin as Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Bulgaria. Kazakhstan’s presidential press service announced the appointment on November 1. The 61-year-old Izbastin is the husband of Toqaev’s sister Qarlygha Izbastina. He has been working at Kazakhstan’s diplomatic missions in other countries since 1994. Media reports say Toqaev’s son, Timur Toqaev, and Izbastin’s son, Mukhamed, are the founders of the Abi Petroleum Capital oil company — a firm that operates in Kazakhstan’s western region of Atyrau. (https://www.rferl.org/a/kazakh-president-appoints-brother-in-law-ambassador-bulgaria/30248382.html) Toqaev, 66, became Kazakhstan’s president after the country’s long-time leader, President Nursultan Nazarbaev, announced his surprise resignation in March.

Newsline: Kazakhstan cancels plan for Dublin embassy over ‘protocol’ issue

Kazakhstan, the largest and richest country in central Asia, has cancelled plans to open an embassy in Ireland due to an issue over protocol with the Irish Government. Rustam Tazhenov, who has been based in Dublin and who was to be appointed charge d’affaires, said the Kazakh embassy was not opening due “to a matter of protocol” between the two countries. A premises for the embassy had been lined up close to Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin 2. he Department of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the matter, but sources familiar with the department’s handling of the application from the Kazakhs said the country applied to open a consulate rather than an embassy. Government protocol allows countries to open only embassies in Ireland. Mr Tazhenov, who will leave Ireland shortly, declined to elaborate on the exact circumstances, but dismissed any suggestion his government sought to open a consulate.


Newsline: Kazakhstan is opening embassy in Ireland

The largest and richest country in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is opening an embassy in Ireland to expand trade between the two countries, learn how to attract multinationals and build an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) like that in Dublin. Rustam Tazhenov, who will represent Kazakhstan in Ireland as charge d’affairs, says the embassy will open early in the new year, and is likely to be located “somewhere close to Fitzwilliam Square” in Dublin 2. “The main reason we are opening the embassy in Dublin is to expand economic relationships between Ireland and Kazakhstan in various sectors,” says Mr Tazhenov. “In compliance with Irish protocol, some official paperwork has to be done before we could officially announce the opening of the Kazakh embassy in Dublin. Nevertheless, the ceremony of presenting credentials to the President of Ireland by the Kazakh ambassador is scheduled for the beginning of next year.”


Newsline: JPMorgan Promises to Process Russian Embassy Payment in Bid to Ease Tension

JPMorgan said it was processing a payment from Russia’s Embassy in Kazakhstan to Russian insurance agency Sogaz, moving to ease tensions after Moscow accused the U.S. bank of “illegally” blocking the transaction. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday the bank had blocked the payment “under the pretext of anti-Russian sanctions” and suggested the “unacceptable, illegal and absurd” act would have consequences for the U.S. Embassy in Russia. The confrontation threatened to further strain ties between Washington and Moscow, which have been locked in a standoff over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “Following consultation with our regulators, we are processing this transaction,” JPMorgan said on Thursday in a statement. Last month, Washington imposed sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, against several Russians close to President Vladimir Putin and against Rossiya Bank, which it said was the “personal bank” for the leader’s inner circle. Insurance agency Sogaz is 48.5 percent owned by Abros, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank Rossiya. Guidelines on the U.S. Treasury department’s website from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control says that property which is more than 50 percent owned by a person on the sanctions blacklist is affected. “U.S. persons are advised to act with caution when considering a transaction with a non-blocked entity” in which the blocked person has significant ownership interest that is less than 50 percent, the guidelines say.


Newsline: Russia Says US Bank Illegally Blocking Embassy Money Transfer

Russia has accused U.S. banking giant J. P. Morgan of illegally blocking a cash transfer from its embassy in Kazakhstan to a Russian company. A ministry statement calls J.P. Morgan’s move “unacceptable, illegal and absurd” and warns the blockage will “have consequences” for the U.S. embassy in Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry linked the blockage to U.S. sanctions slapped on Moscow for its seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials or J. P. Morgan. The U.S. Congress Tuesday approved the sanctions announced by President Barack Obama last month and also gave final approval to $1 billion in loan guarantees to the Ukrainian government.