Diplomatic immunity



First I would like to apologize to all our readers for not updating and posting new articles for so long. It was not easy to find access to the internet while camping in the Kazakhstani desert. Now that we are in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, we will try to catch up. Our plan is to stay here even for the next weekend and then continue to another prairie, this time Mongolian… But first things first.

Astrakhan, a city with half a million inhabits, is historically one of the major trading crossroads. Our major goal however was not to visit all the historical places, but rather get a visa at the Kazakhstani consulate, which is located here (one of the only three in the entire Russia). After a thorough search around the local stadium we finally found the appropriate building in the middle of a dense residential area.  We were lucky and got here during opening hours, so within a few moments we sat on a sofa in an office and undergone a short interview. Only later did we realize that questions such as how, why and with whom are not just a routine part of the visa acquisition procedure. It turned out that the next day, when we planned to cross the border, the consulate is closed and furthermore, it normally takes one week to get the visa. Fortunately, unlike the majority of other tourists, we were there by a car. And fortunately the vice consul Adil needed to get to Atyrau, which is 350km away, to catch his plane to Astana the next day. I still don’t understand why civil officers of Kuwait must cross the borders as passengers of their customers (at least that is the goal of the president Nazarbajev until 2030), but whatever.

The next day at 15:00 we phoned the consulate as planned. Visas were ready and our diplomatic mission could start. We paid a fine for a late check-out from the hotel and drove to pick up our passenger and passports. Adil joined us with a plastic bag in his hands and a two-hour roundtrip through the city began. At almost every corner he got off the car handed some luggage to someone, came back with a different one and it continued like this until he was left with only a small bag with is personal belongings (later we found out that for him this was the beginning of his one month holiday as a reward for one year of loyal serving to his nation). He was very relaxed and we talked about Kazakhstan, the Czech republic (he plans to visit his friend, a Kazakhstani consul in Prague), about his and our work (he studied international law in the Netherlands and then worked two years as an ambassador in Pakistan) and also about beer – the favorite drink of all of us.

We got to the border about an hour before the sunset. Procedures here can take many hours and car insurance and other bribes can cost you pretty backet. We waited for more than half an hour with other cars on the Russian side of the border. After getting across this obstacle things speeded up. On the Kazakhstani side we drove pass all the queuing cars and got all the necessary documents and stamps within minutes. A few moments later a customs officer stopped us to check our luggage. When Adil saw this, he got out of the car and shouted at the officer in such a way, he will probably remember it till the end of his life… We all laughed. “WELCOME TO KAZAKHSTAN” said Adil while sipping a can of Baltika beer, sitting on the passenger seat. We then continued on through local bumpy roads full of trucks and cars, which constantly have their distance lights turned on. After four hours we finally got to Atyrau, gave Adil two cans of Pils, exchanged telephone numbers in case of emergency and disappeared to a nearby “gostinec” to get at least a few hours of sleep. Our journey through Kazakhstan can now finally begin.

Příspěvek byl publikován v rubrice Kazakhstan, Russia. Můžete si uložit jeho odkaz mezi své oblíbené záložky.

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