Dillara Mukhambetova: "I invited people to spend the night at my place.
On September 24, Dillara Mukhambetova left a message on the Cinema Park's page: "Good evening everyone! All visitors who have not found a bed for the night are invited to spend the night at the cinema". It was the third day of "partial mobilization" in Russia, and in Uralsk, as well as in other cities of Kazakhstan, numerous relocates appeared. "It was late at night," says Dillara. - There was rain outside. And lots and lots of people with suitcases can't find a place to fit in." On how the people of Kazakhstan reacted to the influx of Russians, why help emigrants, and why leaving is better than mobilization, Dillara says in the Eyewitness Project: "I heard one thing this week: 'I don't want to die. I don't want to kill..."
Tell us about yourself
- My name is Dillara. I am the director of Cinema Park. This movie theater. We also have another cinema in another city, Aksai, [it's] also called Cinema Park. In general, I'm just the director of the cinema.
You sheltered Russians fleeing mobilization in a movie theater. Why?
- We saw the situation: the fact that there were a lot of commuters around town. It was already late at night, and a decision was made. The initiative was mine, so people wouldn't have to stay outside in the rain. They made this announcement in the form of a video message on my Instagram. It was about people being able to spend the night at my theater tonight. I gave the address and there was an influx of people coming to our theater.
As I understood it, it was word of mouth. That is, many people simply forwarded to each other my video with the location where I am. And people came up. There was already a problem at that point. The prices of apartments went up; many people couldn't find a place to live. Personally, for example, I offered one family who also came to stay with me. They refused, apparently afraid of me. I thought that maybe if I invited them all, they wouldn't be afraid of us. They didn't trust us. After all, a lot of non-locals come here, they're close to each other, and that fear should have fallen away.
I called the head of the trading house, the owner, his name is Serik Mirgaliev. I explained the situation: that it was 10:30, it was raining outside, and lots and lots of people with suitcases couldn't find anywhere to fit in. I asked him to open the cinema for the night, to use the cinema after hours. He said: "Okay, fine." It's a human duty to help a person.
Even the same Russians who came, they did not ask for help. They put it this way: "We can't even ask Russians for help in Russia. Especially in Moscow, St. Petersburg. In such cities people are on their own, they think only about themselves. They never think of anyone to help anyone." So they were all surprised that we help.
How many people asked for help?
- The first night it was over 200. The second night it was over 250. Then it was about 400 a few nights. We started on Saturday, from Saturday to Saturday, - almost a week.
There were no conflicts with the guests. The guests were adequate. Tired, but adequate. Everyone reacted appropriately. In the morning all 200 people came up, found me and thanked me for the night. Then we helped some more during the night: we set up boilers and kettles. We bought everything we could so they could get something to eat. Where would they find food at night? Hot meals were brought by local volunteers, residents of neighboring houses brought hot meals.
Now we see that people have adapted. That is, even if they come from the border, they immediately find a cab, a place of residence. People are already adapted, they are already oriented. That is why the last time we launched it, there were about 140 guests - and we have already made a decision that it will be possible to scale down. But if there is also a big influx, we are ready to accept.
Was there a story that impressed you?
- Almost everyone was talked to. The first night people were tired. When they were already somewhat rested and had had a good night's sleep, they came up to me in the morning. Everyone was trying to tell his story: how he crossed the border, how he walked for 20-30 hours, how he left his car at the border (it was impossible to drive by car at all). On the first day I could tell about the mother who brought her son. Her son is 30-plus years old. She tells it herself: "I'm not ready to send my son to war. And I'm not ready to lose my son, so I brought him myself, personally. In the morning I will leave by bus back to Samara.
Do you keep in touch with those you've helped?
- Politicians, the prime minister, including our president, have already expressed their opinion about all this. He said: "Help, help as much as you can. Put them to work. Now many of those who have spent the night with us, we employ them in Uralsk, in Aksai. We have a lot of facilities, many have found jobs. Many we accommodated in apartments: some for free. Someone found a paid job. We helped, we oriented them around the city.
Is there any negativity towards visiting Russians?
- The local population is divided into two camps: one is "for" and the other is "against". There is an explanation for this.
When there was a large influx of Russians, it turned out that everyone rushed to Astana and Alma-Ata. And we have Astana, Alma-Ata are the cities of students. Those who rent out housing decided to make a profit, so to speak, and began to rent for three times the price to non-locals. All the locals, or rather our students, were asked to vacate their apartments.
We had a lot of Russians walking around Uralsk here (we don't have that many students). In Alma-Ata and Astana, many, many of our students walked down the street and slept on benches. That's what divided our population into pros and cons. Our population has always been hospitable. Kazakhstan is a multinational state. We are probably the same state that celebrates Nauryz with all the peoples and nations, we also celebrate Shrovetide with all the nations and peoples.
Why are people fleeing Russia now?
- Because they don't want to fight. They don't want to die. One thing I've heard this week:
"I don't want to die. I don't want to kill or die. That is, they understand, many say: "Even if we are mobilized, we will go as cannon fodder. We will go, knowing that it is death. We don't want that.
Is it right for people to leave instead of protesting?
Kazakhstan is much smaller than Russia. And maybe we could do something with our population if we came out. The Russian Federation is big. Even if these one and a half thousand people who spent the night at my place would come out to some rally, I don't think it would play any role in any way against the mobilization and all this.
Has life changed in Kazakhstan after February 24?
- Nothing has changed. Sanctions against Russia? But it hasn't affected us in any way, particularly in the film business. They did:
"You probably won't have Russian dubbing now. You won't have dubbing in Russian." Because all the studios were in Russia, and Russia is under sanctions. No. We're doing fine. We have studios opened in Kazakhstan. We're getting the Universal project. Calmly, no problems.
Russia's imperial ambitions may affect Kazakhstan?
- I don't think our president will allow that, even if someone has some thoughts. He is a good politician. He knows how to negotiate, what to say, how to speak. I think, Allah forbid, of course, we won't get into such a situation.
What are you most afraid of?
- War, death. I am afraid of death. I'm afraid of people dying. Everyone is afraid of that. I am afraid of not keeping my children safe, and I am afraid. I imagine the horror that Russian mothers, Ukrainian mothers are going through. Any mothers.