In the capital of Kazakhstan, everything is as usual, except for patrols on the streets


An Airbus 330 with a capacity of more than 250 passengers flies to the capital of Kazakhstan, and there is not a single empty seat in it. Why all of a sudden there is so much in a not very popular direction, where is it also alarming? Yes, because for several days there were no flights to Kazakhstan, because when shooting and pogroms began in Aktau, Zhanaozen, Alma-Ata and other cities, air carriers decided to cancel flights there.

So my plane-mates were worried. Many returned home after New Year’s trips, and all of them had to fly through Nur-Sultan, and from there, some by train, some by bus, some by car will get to their cities to all parts of Kazakhstan, equal in area to eighteen Bangladesh or twelve European countries , as stated on a local news and education portal.

“You know that everything is blocked everywhere, security checks are all around, and in order to get from the airport to the center of Nur-Sultan, you have to lay down three hours because of roadblocks,” the passengers excited each other with disturbing stories.

And none of this is confirmed in Nur-Sultan. It’s a healthy sunny winter here and no reagent on the streets. There is no increased control at the border crossing upon arrival, only a woman in a white coat demands the results of a PCR test for vaccinated and unvaccinated people – the “omicron” is spreading in the country, and the authorities of large cities have already started talking about possible restrictions.

In the arrivals hall, however, there are military personnel in bulletproof vests, helmets, with machine guns. Some have their index finger extended along the trigger guard, as the Russian military practices, and some on the trigger, as the Americans teach.

The guys turned out to be kind inside, explained with a smile where to smoke and where the exchanger is: they say that in Alma-Ata it’s a whole problem to change money, it’s better to take care of it in advance. They even warned that the rate at the airport is worse than in the city.

There is an armored personnel carrier at the Nur-Sultan airport, but it is not intimidating, but somehow relaxed. Nearby is some kind of unconvincing barricade of gray paper bags, we carry cement in such.

There is an armored personnel carrier at the Nur-Sultan airport, but it is not intimidating, but somehow relaxed. Nearby – some kind of unconvincing barricade of gray paper bags

And everyone is very friendly. To travel by bus from the airport to the city, you need a local analogue of the Troika card or a special application on your phone. “Are you a guest?” the driver asks. “Then you don’t need anything.” And he took me to the Baiterek monument in the center of Nur-Sultan for free. Of course there are patrols here. More precisely, sometimes they go, but more often they stand smoking. People are watched closely, but no one is stopped, at least during the day.

The Baiterek monument, 102 meters high, symbolizes the Tree of Life on the banks of the World River. In the crown of a tree, the sacred bird Samruk laid an egg-sun. This is the cosmogony of the ancient nomads. In the upper hall of Baiterek there is an imprint of the right hand of Nursultan Nazarbayev. Each visitor can put his hand in the imprint and thus greet Elbasy. Judging by the print, Elbasy has a hand size of 8.5-9.

The Internet in Nur-Sultan works fine, everywhere they accept card payments. Impressive is only the cordon around the government quarter, where the presidential palace Akorda, parliament and government. The new government had its first meeting on January 12. There are armored shields blocking overhead passages, barricades of bags two human heights, barrels of rifles and helmets peek out from behind the bags.

Meanwhile, it was time for a lunch break, and all the cafes and restaurants in the center were full of visitors. There were difficulties on the roads, however, three points in total, but for Nur-Sultan with its population of 1.2 million inhabitants, this is serious.