Recently, while returning from St Petersburg to New Delhi via Almaty in Kazakhstan, our family had a rather bizarre experience. Before querying anything, I would like to sum up the situation -
Our family of three checks-in at St Petersberg Pulkovo airport. At the last moment, we decided to take one of the checked-in baggage as a carry-on. While doing it, we forgot that the bag had a knife with 1-inch blade.
The bag passes the screening at St Petersberg airport. We land in Almaty after 5 hours. During transiting, the knife is discovered in the bag and we are stopped. Normally when this happens, the officials just throw the prohibited items but the officials at the screening checkpoint decide to call the police.
The police arrive and asks one of us to claim the bag. My mother claims it and her passport is taken by them. We start to worry a bit at this point. They return with a form titled “Protocol Exemption”. We sit with a Kazakh/Russian speaking policeman who fills the form in Russian. When my father expressed his concerns about what the form was about and what was being written on it, the policemen keeps repeating “ I am police ” and “ Law section 38 and 40 " with a stern look. Our requests for a translator are ignored. Finally, after being harassed and mystified for 15 minutes, we are let off after we sign the form.
Though I understand it was our fault of not checking the stuff in the bag before taking it as a carry on. I have few questions regarding the situation :-
- Why wasn’t the knife taken out at Russian airport ? Is it because the officers failed to discover it or it is due to the fact that knives only larger than particular size are banned in carry-on baggage in Russia ?
- As I had experienced before this trip, prohibited items in the baggage are often thrown. Were we made to sign only because we were in transit and had completed one part of journey with the knife in carry on baggage ?
- Can carrying a prohibited item result in detention or arrest ? It would be great if anyone can explain this with respect to Kazakh law.
- Was the policeman interested in taking bribe by intimidating us ?
EDIT: Attached is the piece of paper issued to us after the matter got resolved.
- Will this incident result in extra scrutiny by the Kazakh officials or those from CIS countries if the passenger visits in future ? In other words, are such incidents kept in record books ?