NUR-SULTAN — Kazakhstan has allowed the transit of thousands of Uzbek and Kyrgyz migrant workers who’ve been stranded in Russia for months along the border with Kazakhstan due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
The decision by Kazakhstan’s government to allow the migrant workers to cross through the country to return to their homelands was made after clashes near the border between the migrants and Russian police.
Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov said on August 5 that 2,435 Kyrgyz citizens had been allowed to pass through Kazakhstan from Russia’s adjacent Samara region aboard 40 buses. He said 2,200 Uzbek citizens also were allowed to cross through Kazakhstan on trains.
Asked by RFE/RL about clashes earlier this week between the stranded migrants and Russian police, Smadiyarov said: “That is what happened in Russia. Kazakhstan has nothing to do with that.”
A video report on the Telegram social media channel of Russia’s Mashu.ru online news outlet included footage of Central Asian migrants clashing with police in the Samara region near the border.
The Moscow-based RBK news agency quoted regional authorities in Samara as saying the video was taken on August 3 when migrants were demanding permission to cross the border. Those authorities said there were no arrests or injuries during “the brawl.”
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on August 3 that among the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Russia, about 40 percent had lost their jobs as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
With reporting by Mash, RBK, Interfax, and Tengrinews