According to a release from the Kremlin's press service on March 10, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev was supposed to make an unexpected visit to Moscow on March 10 and 11. Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported early March 10, "Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev will pay an official two-day visit to Russia on an invitation from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Kremlin said in a statement." The statement continued, "Putin and Nazarbaev are expected to hold talks on Tuesday."
But Nazarbaev never showed up and the Kazakh president's press spokesman Yerzhan Nukezhanov told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Azattyq, on March 11 Nazarbaev had no plans to go to Moscow and this information was distributed by the Russian president's administration.
News that Nazarbaev was heading to Moscow was strange from the start. He was just there on March 5 to meet with Putin and Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to discuss the three countries' CIS Customs Union/Eurasian Economic Community.
On the evening of March 10, Russian and Kazakh news agencies reported Nazarbaev and Putin had spoken by telephone. The main topic of the conversation was Ukraine and Crimea and reportedly Nazarbaev said he "understands the position of assumed by Russia, which is defending the interests of ethnic minorities in Ukraine, as well as its own security interests."
It must have been an uncomfortable discussion for Nazarbaev since parts of Kazakhstan were incorporated into the Russian empire in the mid-18th Century, just like Crimea was. And the "ethnic minorities" referred to in reports were almost surely Russians in Crimea. A significant percentage of Kazakhstan's current population is ethnic Russian/Slavic and like Crimea, most of Kazakhstan's ethnic Russians live in areas near the border with Russia.
Following the telephone conversation with Putin, Nazarbaev had two more discussions: one with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and another with U.S. President Barack Obama.
According to the Kazinform news agency, Nazarbaev "confirmed the importance of finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis through dialogue between all interested parties" in his conversation with Merkel.
Reports said Obama encouraged Nazarbaev to play an active role in finding a peaceful outcome for Ukraine.
March 11 came and Nazarbaev never arrived to meet with Putin in Moscow and Nazarbaev's spokesman Nukezhanov told Azattyq that Putin's invitation was for a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community and there was no need to go since the meeting happened last week.
So the Kremlin's press service made a mistake about a visit from the Kazakh president?
When was the last time the Kremlin's press office made a mistake about a visit from a head of state from another CIS country?
When was any time the Kremlin's press office made such a mistake?
Merhat Sharipzhan of the RFE/RL's Central Newsroom and Yerzhan Karabek of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service helped in preparing this report.