Ukrainian minister tried to meet Kazakh PM despite expired COVID test - Kazakhs

KYIV/NUR-SULTAN, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s infrastructure minister was prevented from meeting officials during a visit to Kazakhstan because his COVID-19 test results had expired, posing a risk to meeting participants, the Kazakh government said on Monday.

The coronavirus outbreak in Ukraine has spiked to record levels in recent weeks. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the finance minister and health minister all tested positive this month.

The Kazakh comments, in a statement sent to Reuters, were the first by the government in Nur-Sultan since a Ukrainian lawmaker accused the minister, Vladyslav Kryklii, of forging a coronavirus test to travel.

The infrastructure ministry has not responded to two requests for comment but the ministry has previously denied faking the test in a statement to Interfax Ukraine.

The Kazakh government said it had been ready to organise a meeting between its Prime Minister Askar Mamin and Kryklii.

“However, due to the expiration (more than five days) of PCR [polymerise chain reaction] certificates of the members of the Ukrainian delegation, the meeting ... with Vladyslav Kryklii did not take place,” it said in a written statement.

“In the context of a coronavirus pandemic, in order to ensure the safety of the meeting participants, it is necessary to comply with a number of sanitary rules and conditions, including the availability of a certificate of examination for COVID-19 by PCR.”

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said Kryklii was due to discuss in Kazakhstan the transit of goods from Asia to the European Union while bypassing Russia, Interfax Ukraine reported.

“Obviously, this position of the minister caused another media attack among the pro-Russian media and the spread of fakes (false information)”, it quoted the ministry as saying. (Writing by Matthias Williams Editing by Mark Heinrich)