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5 Oct, 2022 08:50

Kazakhstan issues update on Ukraine’s ‘kill Russians’ envoy

The diplomat is to leave Astana when a replacement arrives, Kazakhstan explained after a rebuke from Moscow
Kazakhstan issues update on Ukraine’s ‘kill Russians’ envoy

The Ukrainian ambassador in Kazakhstan, who stirred controversy with his remarks about mass killings of Russians, will leave Astana once Kiev sends a replacement for him, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Moscow earlier complained that the diplomat, Pyotr Vrublevsky, remained in office in the Central Asian country more than a month after the incident.

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry “notified the Ukrainian side that the remarks [by its ambassador] were unacceptable and hurtful to the people of Kazakhstan, especially ethnic Russians,” spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov told journalists on Wednesday, according to local media.

Astana did not expel the envoy, but considers his presence on its soil “undesirable” and has secured a promise from Ukraine to replace him, the official added. Kiev has already named a potential replacement and sent their credentials to Kazakhstan, he added.

The comments came a day after the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed its concern that Vrublevsky was still serving as the head of the Ukrainian embassy. Russia was led to believe that the diplomat would leave Kazakhstan for good in early September, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“This individual came back to the capital of Kazakhstan, and certainly not to ‘collect his things and his family’. He openly attends diplomatic events as the head of the embassy,” she stated. Smadiyarov denied that his country dealt with Vrublevsky in his official capacity.

Zakharova added that Moscow had called on Astana to expel the Ukrainian “Russophobe”, accusing him of “transgressing all boundaries of civilized behavior, as well as diplomatic ethics and the laws of his host country” against hate speech. Astana promised that the man would leave Kazakhstan “as soon as possible,” she claimed.

Amid the exchange about Vrublevsky, Russia and Kazakhstan summoned each other’s ambassadors. Smadiyarov described his Russian counterpart’s remarks as “out of tune with the allied relationship between Kazakhstan and Russia as equal strategic partners.”

The dispute flared up in late August, when Vrublevsky gave an interview with a local video blogger. When asked about the situation in his country, he said:

“What can I say… We are trying to kill as many [Russians] as possible. The more Russians we kill now, the fewer our children will have to. That’s it.”

Officials in Kazakhstan branded his words as incitement of ethnic hatred and out of line for a diplomat. Astana claimed in early September that Vrublevsky had apologized for his remarks before going on vacation.