Kazakhstan’s minister of culture and sports has apologized for his remarks about Kyrgyzstan and its turbulent recent history, which have sparked resentment in the neighboring country.
The Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports said on May 25 that Arystanbek Mukhamediuly's words were wrongly interpreted by the media and that the minister apologizes for the misunderstanding.
The move comes after the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry on May 24 summoned Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Bishkek, Erbol Akhmetov, and handed him a note of protest regarding Mukhamediuly's remarks.
Meeting with residents of Astana on May 23, Mukhamediuly said, "My heart breaks when I see young Kyrgyz girls cleaning public toilets in Moscow," hinting that Kyrgyzstan has been facing economic hardships after two antigovernment protests ousted two presidents in 2005 and 2010.
The comments, which came amid Kazakhstan’s police crackdown on protests against land reforms, sparked harsh criticism both in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.