Face-mask refusal leads to Estonia ambassador to Kazakhstan flight bar

Heiti Mäemees with former, long-term President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbajev.
Heiti Mäemees with former, long-term President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbajev. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Estonia's ambassador to Kazakhstan was barred entry to a flight Sunday, due to alleged aggressive behavior.

The ambassador, Heiti Mäemees, had been due to board the plane, bound for Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, at Warsaw Chopin Airport Sunday evening but was refused entry, BNS reports.

Foreign ministry communications director Aari Lemmik confirmed to daily Postimees that Mäemees had missed the flight over a misunderstanding on mask-wearing, but could not comment on whether his behavior had been deemed aggressive or that, as one media report had it, he had been intoxicated.

Mäemees is required to provide an explanation to the ministry.

"Rules are for everyone to follow," Lemmik added, noting that Mäemees also regrets the incident.

Citing Polish news portal RMF24, Evropeyskaya Pravda, a Ukrainian portal, reported that Mäemees had been under the influence of alcohol and had and behaved aggressively towards airport staff, in addition to refusing to wear a face-mask, to the extent that airport security had had to intervene.

Once police arrived some time later, Mäemees, who is also ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, had calmed down and, after presenting his diplomatic passport, left the airport.

A new flight ticket for Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana, will need to be purchased for Mäemees to make the connection.

Mäemees has been in his current post since 2017, and previously worked as an adviser at the Estonian embassy in Warsaw, BNS reports.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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