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Palestinian fiance lives in Almaty airport for two months

This is a real story, that is worth being made into a movie. For almost two months Palestinian Mohammed Albakhish has been living in a transit area of the Almaty airport in Kazakhstan. Mohamed is in love with Olesya Grishchenko from Kazakhstan but because of his visa problem he can neither see her nor go beyond the terminal. The young people are going to get married soon but due to the circumstances they are now dreaming more not about a stamp of a civil status registry office but about a border control stamp.

It was love at first sight. They met in Dubai where Mohamed worked as a designer and Olesya came there with her mother for a holiday. The love affair was intense and very soon 25-year old Mohamed decided to propose to his girlfriend. For about 6 months Mohamed almost permanently lived in Kazakhstan going back to the UAE only to extend his visa. Like no one else he knew what the boundless love was until passport control interfered. In March, his Kazakh visa expired and someone advised him to get it in Turkey, which turned out to be a big mistake, Mohamed says.
"When I came to Istanbul the border guards detained me because I had no visa and sent me back to Almaty and from there, again due to the lack of a visa, I was sent back to Istanbul. I traveled there and back three times. Fortunately I had to pay only for my first trip to Istanbul, the rest was paid for by the air company."

Now 25-year old Mohamed lives in the transit area of the Almaty airport. His fiancée Olesya Grishchenko goes to the airport almost every day bringing him clean clothes. This has been going on for two months. Mohamed is trying to stay optimistic but it is getting more and more difficult for him.

"I have all the conditions here – meals three times a day at the expense of the air company, a shower, the officers answer all my questions. The only minus is that they put me into a room without windows and my eyesight has seriously worsened. I can’t take a walk outdoors. But this depends not on the officers but on the law."

Obviously the law is not on the side of the two lovers. Although Palestinian passports and the Palestinian autonomy exist, not many states recognize them. It is quite logical that Mohamed did not have problems with the United Arab Emirates but he faced them in Turkey, which was quite predictable, lawyer Yani Yuksha says.

"Today all the international relations are established via Israel. For some reason this young man does not want to link himself with that state. Considering that the relations between Turkey and Israel are expected to warm, the Turkish authorities think that relations with Israel are more important for them than relations with Mr. Mohamed from Palestine. There is no easy solution to this situation."

Mohamed is resting his hopes first of all on the representatives of the UN in Kazakhstan who promised to help him. Another option is to apply for a political asylum but it is not clear whether the local authorities would agree to this. Mohamed has to be patient. Meanwhile he is not wasting time. If earlier he spoke only Arab and English now he has learnt several phrases in Russian and Kazakh. Probably because he hopes to say “kalaysyn” (“how are you” in Kazakh) to the child they are awaiting with Olesya.
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