Kyrgyz PM Travels To Kazakhstan For Border Crisis Talks

Kyrgyz PM Travels To Kazakhstan For Border Crisis Talks

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov is visiting Kazakhstan to discuss the ongoing crisis on the countries’ mutual border, where vehicles and people have been stuck in long lines after Kazakhstan tightened customs checks on October 10, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The chief of the Kyrgyz cabinet’s political department, Chyngyz Esenkul-uulu, told RFE/RL that Isakov’s trip to Astana on October 18 had been agreed by the neighboring Central Asian countries’ prime ministers in a phone call on October 17.

The stepped-up Kazakh border checks came amid controversy after outgoing Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev accused Kazakhstan of interfering in the campaign for Kyrgyzstan’s October 15 presidential election and criticized Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev over his long rule. Kazakh officials deny any link.

On October 7, Atambaev accused Kazakh authorities of “meddling in Kyrgyzstan’s internal affairs” and of openly supporting Omurbek Babanov, the chief rival of Atambaev’s favored successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov — who ended up winning the election.

The accusations came after Nazarbaev met with Babanov on September 19.

Atambaev said on October 18 that he “probably” went too far when he criticized Nazarbaev, an authoritarian leader who has been in power in the larger, more wealthy country since before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Probably, I gave way to emotions and did the wrong thing in criticizing the Kazakh president,” Atambaev said, instead targeting what he suggested were self-interested Kazakh “oligarchs” bent on preserving their wealth and influence after Nazarbaev, 77, dies or hands over power.

“Kazakhstan’s president trusts those who are around him. And those surrounding him are oligarchs. I think he is like me, he easily trusts people,” Atambaev said.

“Meanwhile, the oligarchs are thinking about only one thing: what they would do after Nazarbaev, how they would save their cash and where they would hide it.”