Estonian consul in Kazakstan: The situation is calm in the capital

Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Estonia's consul in Kazakstan said the situation was stable in the capital Nursultan on Saturday, despite unrest elsewhere in the country. Concerns mainly relate to communications disruptions and difficulty making payments.

Consul Kristiina Müür told ERR: "The situation in Nursultan is calm, there are fewer people on the streets - they have been asked to stay at home if possible. There is also less traffic than usual. It is clear that more security measures have been put in place around the Presidential Palace and the city government buildings, but, in general, the streets are calm."

She said, unlike in Almaty, the capital had not seen looting or violence.

Müür said there are concerns about card payments not working in shops as the country has blocked the internet. It is also hard to get cash and there are long queues at ATMs.

"Vending machines only dispense money in limited quantities," Müür explained and said currency exchanges are closed. "This is a real concern."

Speaking about Kazakhstan's connections with the outside world, Müür said it was not stable. Mobile communications, calls and texts work on the spot, but it is difficult to make international calls. 

"The Internet is limited, the communication issue is problematic," she said. By Monday morning, there were reports the internet connection had been restored.

The diplomat said, according to the population register, there are currently 29 Estonian citizens in Kazakhstan. 

"So there are very few Estonians in this country and no one has contacted our embassy in the last few days. So at least in terms of this, it can be said it is still good," Müür said.

Protests erupted in the Central Asian country on January 2, initially over gas prices which then spilled over into general dissatisfaction with Kazakstan's leadership. Russia has sent "peace-keeping" forces to the region.

Almost 8,000 people have been detained throughout the country, Kazakstan's Interior Ministry said on Monday. More than 40 deaths have been confirmed by the Information Ministry, the BBC reported.

Due to ongoing disruptions with the internet, it has been difficult to clearly understand the situation on the ground. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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