| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Kazakh president to skip ‘Russian Davos’

The government of Kazakhstan said on Friday that President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev would not be attending the upcoming annual business meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, as he had refused to support the Kremlin’s position about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Kazakh administration announced that only two representatives from the Central Asian country will attend the forum this year.

Until its invasion of Ukraine, Russia regularly hosted world leaders and business titans at the forum, but Western officials and business figures now shun it, and last year Tokayev stole the limelight by rejecting the Kremlin claims on Ukraine.

Sharing the stage with Russian President Putin – who will address the forum this year as well – Tokayev said then that Kazakhstan would not recognise the independence of pro-Russian statelets in eastern Ukraine or other ex-Soviet republics.

His comments raised eyebrows because Kazakhstan, which shares the world’s longest continuous land border with Russia, has for decades been a member of Moscow-led security and trade blocs, and calls Russia its strategic partner.

Asked who would attend the conference this year, a Kazakh government spokeswoman said only Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar and Deputy Economy Minister Timur Zhaksylykov would go.

Tokayev’s office declined to comment on the reasons why he was not attending.

Russia’s RIA news agency reported last month that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, invited by Putin, said would not be able to attend this year’s forum. Russian media have not announced plans by any other world leaders to attend.

The forum in St Petersburg, the former imperial capital of the Russian Empire, has been held since 1997 and is cast by Russian officials as Moscow’s answer to the annual World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland.

  • Reuters