ALMATY, April 27 (Reuters) – Kazakhstan may declare a prominent Russian television host persona non grata after he said the Central Asian nation could meet the same fate as Ukraine if it did not side decisively with Russia, a Kazakh official said on Wednesday.
Although it has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, an oil-rich former Soviet republic, has called for the crisis to be resolved in line with the United Nations charter, has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and has said it will abide by Western sanctions against Moscow.
Tigran Keosayan – married to Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-backed media outlet RT News Today – said on his YouTube show that Kazakhstan was being “ungrateful” and “sly” by failing to show its support for Russia.
Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aibek Smadiyarov said Keosayan’s comments were “insulting” and lacked objectivity.
“Perhaps his statement reflects the views of some parts of the Russian public and political establishment, but it goes against the spirit and essence of the cooperation between our countries and the existing agreements between our leaders,” he added.
“I expect he will be included in the list of people who are not welcome in Kazakhstan.”
Kazakhstan has close economic ties with Russia, as well as a a large ethnic Russian minority among its 19 million people.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also received armed assistance from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to put down anti-government riots in January.
However, Kazakhstan has also attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in Western investment, mostly in the oil and gas sector, and says its foreign policy follows a “multivector” approach.
(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Kevin Liffey)