Israel not planning to evacuate nationals from Kazakhstan

Israeli Officials in Jerusalem and Nur-Sultan believe government is taking back control after days of riots.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

The Foreign Ministry confirmed it is not making plans to evacuate Israeli nationals from Kazakhstan, which has been engulfed by a week of violent anti-government protests.

Gary Koren, deputy head of the Eurasia and West Balkans division of the Foreign Ministry, which oversees relations with Kazakhstan, told Army Radio on Sunday that the assessment is that the government of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayevf is taking back control.

“We believe that there will be no need to evacuate Israeli citizens,” Koren said. “Most of the internet is back, and shops and gas stations are opening here and there. There are several dozen Israelis who traveled there to study or work and we are in touch with them.”

Koren’s comments came two days after Israeli national Levan Kogeashvili was killed by stray bullets while leaving his home in Almaty for work on Friday. Two friends who were with Kogeashvili were injured. Kogeashvili’s family and friends stressed that the 22-year-old was not involved in the protests. Hebrew media reports said the Foreign Ministry is assisting efforts to bring Kogeashvili back to Israel for burial.

On Thursday, Israel issued a travel warning for Kazakhstan, asking Israelis to avoid non-essential travel to the country.

The unrest began in Kazakhstan’s far west as protests against a sharp rise in prices for liquefied petroleum gas that is widely used as vehicle fuel. The protests spread to the country’s largest city, Almaty, where demonstrators seized and burned government buildings.

Tokayev has used harsh rhetoric against those participating in the protests, calling them “a band of international terrorists” and authorizing security forces to use lethal force against them. At Tokayev’s invitation, Russian forces arrived in the former Soviet republic to quell the unrest.

Authorities say security forces killed 26 demonstrators and that 18 law-enforcement officers died. More than 4,400 people have been arrested, the Interior Ministry said Saturday. Dissident groups say the casualty count may be higher.

An estimated 3,300 Jews live in Kazakhstan, mostly in Almaty, with others living in the capital city of Nur-Sultan also known as Astana.


Tobias Siegal and AP contributed to this report.