Kazakh 'Yurt Of Invincibility' in Ukraine's Bucha Sparks Moscow-Astana Tensions
(RFE.RL) ASTANA -- Moscow has demanded an explanation from the Kazakh government regarding the appearance of a so-called Kazakh "Yurt Of Invincibility" in Bucha, a town north of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to assist local residents in need as the country struggles with power cuts caused by Russian air strikes targeting energy infrastructure.
The yurt, a traditional round tent used by the nomads of Central Asia's steppes, consists of a wooden frame covered with felt. One the Kazakh government says was set up through private funding appeared in Bucha earlier this week, where local residents are able to get free traditional Kazakh food and tea and charge their electronic devices.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on January 10 that although Moscow "was assured that the information" about the yurt in Bucha is "false," Russia expects an official explanation from Astana regarding the matter "to avoid damaging the Russia-Kazakhstan strategic partnership and alliance."
On January 11, in response to a question from an RFE/RL correspondent at a briefing in Astana, Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov said there was "nothing to explain."
"The yurt was placed there. So, what is the problem? It is there. The help was provided. It is an initiative of private Kazakhstani companies. They organized it, transported it, and are providing the assistance. The situation in Ukraine is obviously complicated. Maybe for some the information [about the yurt] looks different. However, we do not see any problem here," Smadiyarov said.
Bucha residents endured a brief but brutal occupation by Russian armed forces at the start of the unprovoked invasion launched in February last year.
Russian troops have been accused of committing multiple war crimes in the town during the early weeks of the war before Ukrainian forces retook the area.
Kazakh businessmen and the Kazakh diaspora in Ukraine have said they plan to set up more yurts across the country.