Russians rush to flee nation after Putin orders partial military mobilization

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Large numbers of Russians rushed out of the country on Wednesday to book one-way tickets after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of military reservists for the war in Ukraine.

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Flights filled up quickly and ticket prices for the remaining connections skyrocketed, apparently driven by fears that Russia’s borders might close too soon or a widespread call-up that would have left many Russians fighting on the front lines of the war. send men.

Tickets for Moscow–Belgrade flights operated by Air Serbia, the only European carrier other than Turkish Airlines, to maintain flights to Russia despite the EU flight ban, were sold out for the next several days. Flights from Moscow to Istanbul or Dubai rose in price just minutes before the jump again, reaching 9,200 euros ($9,119) for one-way economy class fares.

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Putin’s decree stated that the number of people called on active duty would be determined by the Ministry of Defense. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised interview that 300,000 reservists with relevant combat and service experience would be mobilized initially.

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Russia has seen a remarkable exodus of civilians since Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine nearly seven months ago. During a morning address to the nation in which the president announced a partial mobilization of reservists, he also issued an implicit nuclear threat to Russia’s enemies in the West.

News of panic among the Russians soon spread on social networks. Anti-war groups said limited plane tickets outside Russia led to high demand at high prices and became increasingly unavailable.

Some postings alleged that people had already been turned back from Russia’s land border with Georgia and that the website of the state Russian Railway Company collapsed as too many people were investigating ways to exit the country.

Social networks in Russian also abounded with advice on how to avoid mobilization or leave the country.

Russian officials sought to placate the public, emphasizing that the call-up would affect a limited number of people who met certain criteria. However, conflicting statements and lack of details helped fuel the panic.

The head of the Duma Defense Committee, Andrei Kartpolov, said that on the basis of this mobilization there would be no additional restrictions on the release of reservoirs from Russia. But he also advised individuals who may be eligible for a call-up against “travel to resorts in Turkey”.

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Russian media quoted Kartpolov as saying, “Spend your holidays in resorts in Crimea or (in Russia’s southern) Krasnodar Territory.”

Avtozak, a Russian group tracking political demonstrations and detainees, reported that some participants were detained in anti-mobilization demonstrations in several cities.

A group based in Serbia, called Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Serbs Together Against War, tweeted that as of mid-October there were no flights available from Russia to Belgrade. According to the Belgrade-based group, flights to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia were also sold out.

“All the Russians who wanted to go to war had already gone,” the group said. “No one else wants to go there!”

Serbia’s capital Belgrade has become a popular destination for Russians during the war. More than 50,000 Russians have fled to Serbia since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and many open businesses, especially in the IT sector.

Russians do not need a visa to enter Serbia, which has not joined Western sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. Allies such as Belarus and China have also not imposed sanctions.

A Wednesday flight from Moscow to Belgrade was packed with young Russian men who said they could not speak to reporters because they feared negative consequences for the families they left behind.

An elderly Russian woman, who identified herself as Yulia, said she also feared “my government and the police” might see her remarks.

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“But I want to say, ‘Freedom for Ukraine.’ Please, someone stop Putin,” she said.

Social networks in Russian also abounded with advice on how to avoid mobilization or leave the country.

According to Russian media reports, Andrei Kartpolov, the head of the Defense Committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said in an apparent attempt to quell the panic that the authorities would not impose additional sanctions on reservists leaving Russia.

A group based in Serbia, Russia, Belarus, Ukrainians and Serbs Together Against War tweeted that as of mid-October there were no flights available from Russia to Belgrade. According to the Belgrade-based group, flights to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia were also sold out.

“All the Russians who wanted to go to war had already gone,” the group said. “No one else wants to go there!”

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Serbia’s capital Belgrade has become a popular destination for Russians during the war. More than 50,000 Russians have fled to Serbia since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and many open businesses, especially in the IT sector.

Russians do not need a visa to enter Serbia, the only European country that has not joined Western sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine.


Source: globalnews.ca

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