By Kulpash Konyrova
Astana, Sep 29 (EFE) – “I am from Perm and I have just crossed the border into Kazakhstan, because the situation in Russia is getting worse and nobody knows what will happen tomorrow,” a young Russian, who, like many others, has chosen to leave to avoid being called up to fight in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine, told EFE.
Astana has been engulfed in the several days by a wave of Russians fleeing the country, the second so far this year, and the Kazakh government has been forced to take action.
The first wave was at the end of February, when Russia started the war in Ukraine.
RUSSIAN WAVE IN KAZAKHSTAN
The second wave, made up of people fleeing the partial mobilization ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21, has turned out to be larger than the first and has filled cities such as Astana and Almaty.
Less than 24 hours after the Russian draft call, long queues of cars formed in front of checkpoints on the Russian-Kazakh border.
According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, 98,000 Russians have entered the country in the past week, a figure that some experts believe could be higher, as many people use Kazakhstan as a temporary stop before traveling to another country.
Kazakh political scientist Dosym Saptayev claims that many Russians are fleeing to avoid becoming “cannon fodder”.
FLEEING THE SITUATION IN RUSSIA
“Several of us who are friends came here from St Petersburg. There are five of us and we decided to travel, as the situation started to get worse. It took us about 40 hours to get here,” a young man covering his face with his scarf told Efe.
He does not yet know what he will do but he will decide according to the circumstances: “we will see how the housing is and then make a decision.”
“My father is from Ukraine, my grandmother, uncles, aunts and sisters are from there, and half of them had to leave. There is a mobilization there and in Russia there is also a mobilization,” he explained, wondering whether “it is normal to take up arms against your relatives.”
IMPACT ON KAZAKHSTAN
The Kazakh rental market reacted immediately with a considerable price increase, after mostly young or service-age men, many accompanied by their partners, wives and children, arrived.
However, Kazakh law stipulates that in order to reside in the country and receive bank transfers, an individual identification number (IIN) is required, so the institutions offering these services have been swamped.
In response, the local authorities have set up new help centers to attend to more people.
Temperatures have dropped and the first snow has fallen on the Kazakh capital the last several days so the new centers are appreciated with people now waiting their turn in pleasant conditions.
“Everything is great, I like everything. Today we came to pick up our documents and the organization of the queues is very comfortable,” a young Russian told Efe.
He hopes to spend a couple of months in Kazakhstan, as “the situation is very confusing,” but later, “we’ll see.”