Tuesday, January 31

Hundreds of thousands of Russians flee before Putin closes the country’s borders tomorrow


After the reservist levy was announced, 260,000 Russians have left and 2,300 have been arrested for protesting. / REUTERS

Starting this Wednesday, all men of mobilization age will be banned from leaving Russia | After the reservist levy was announced, 260,000 citizens have escaped and 2,300 have been arrested for protesting

The strenuous attempts to recruit as many people as possible to send to the war in Ukraine, the lack of conviction of the population about the need for such a measure and the continuing incidents, the latest being the shooting at a military commissariat, are beginning to create a state of opinion in Russia very unfavorable to the campaign unleashed by President Vladimir Putin against the neighboring country.

The response of the Russian authorities, as usual, is more repression, intimidation and restrictions, which in turn makes the general unrest even more widespread. In recent days, some twenty military commissariats, centers in charge of issuing summonses, registering those mobilized, subjecting them to the corresponding medical examination and determining their subsequent fate, have been attacked with Molotov cocktails. Some of them burned almost completely as the firefighters did not arrive in time.

Another serious incident linked to the mobilization took place this Monday at noon in Ust-Ilimsk, in the Siberian region of Irkutsk, where a young man went to the military commissariat and fired several times at the soldier responsible for recruiting. Apparently, according to local authorities, he was injured and is hospitalized in the ICU in critical condition.

Senior Russian officials fear that the abuses in the mobilization will cause a social explosion

The information was provided by the governor of Irkutsk, Igor Kóbzev, through his Telegram account, adding that the aggressor is 25 years old and “was immediately arrested.” In his words, “I am ashamed that such a thing occurs at a time when, on the contrary, we should be united, and not confront each other, but against real threats.”

According to eyewitnesses, shortly before opening fire with his weapon, the young man shouted “now we’re all going home, no one is going to fight here.” The Investigation Committee (SK in its Russian acronym) has opened a criminal case against him. “A team of investigators has been on the scene and the suspect has been questioned. The motives for the crime are being clarified,” the SK said in a press release.

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On Sunday, a man set himself on fire at the central bus station in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow. He shouted that he did not want to go to Ukraine to fight. A video filmed by people who witnessed the incident showed the suicide bomber running through the station in flames, before being reduced by paramedics who put out the fire and took him to an ambulance.

On the other hand, the exodus of men of military age to other countries, especially the closest ones, is increasing. Sources close to the Kremlin consulted by the Russian digital publication Meduza, vetoed by the Russian Ministry of Justice as a “foreign agent” and based in Riga (Latvia), calculate that, since Putin decreed the “partial mobilization” on the 21st of September, more than 260,000 people have fled Russia to avoid having to go and shoot in Ukraine.

Meduza also assures that, once the referendums for the incorporation into Russia of the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian troops end tomorrow, all men of mobilization age “will be prohibited from leaving Russia.” Specifically, he points to the date of this Wednesday, September 28, as the day on which the Russian borders will bolt all Russians likely to be incorporated into the ranks of the Army.

However, the Russian media reported this Monday cases of young people who could not leave the country today because they were included in the list of mobilized people sent to the border guard units attached to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB). Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last week that the intention is to mobilize a total of 300,000 “reservists”, although there is already talk of a figure of one million two hundred thousand, a fact that the Kremlin denies.

Among the countries to which the Russians have tried to escape in recent days, the most requested is Georgia, at whose entrances the queues of vehicles exceed 30 kilometers and the wait has already reached 48 hours. The situation is especially tense at the Vérjni Lars border post, where Russian Army forces arrived today and placed an armored vehicle in the face of the possibility that, as the soldiers explained, “the situation will spill over.” This point separates Georgia from the Russian republic of North Ossetia, whose authorities have prohibited cars with license plates from other parts of Russia from entering this region, which is intensifying traffic in local taxis, bicycles and even scooters.

mass flight from the country

The flow to Finland and Norway is also increasing. According to Taneli Repo, head of the border guard for southeastern Finland, almost 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland over the weekend, 80% more than the previous week. Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but is part of the Schengen area, also reports an increase in arrivals from Russia at the Storskog border point in the north.

Tickets to leave Russia are sold out after the mobilization of 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine

Likewise, Kazakhstan remains one of the most popular destinations for Russians who want to escape the mobilization. According to the border service of the Central Asian country, in just three days, from September 20 to 23, about 9,000 Russian citizens arrived in the western part of the country. People stand in long lines to cross the border and it is almost impossible to find accommodation in the border towns. The management of the Cinema Park room, in Uralsk (Kazakhstan), yesterday invited those who came from Russia to spend the night inside the cinema.

On Sunday, in Makhachkala, the capital of the Russian North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, thousands of people, largely women, demonstrated against the mobilization. They chanted that “Ukraine has not done anything to us, Moscow has.” The Police acted with unusual harshness and more than a hundred arrests were made. Dagestan is, according to independent media, one of the Russian territories with the highest proportion of deaths in the Ukraine war.

15 dead, including 11 children, in the shooting at a Russian school:

Since Putin decreed “partial mobilization” on Wednesday of last week, there are already 2,300 people arrested throughout Russia for protesting against the forced recruitment of men, says the OVD-Info organization. Many of them received citations at the police stations to appear at the military commissariats and thus be immediately enlisted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov acknowledged on Monday that “mistakes” are being made in the recruitment mechanism. “There are cases in which the decree was violated. In some regions the governors are actively working to correct the situation. We hope that all errors will be corrected,” Peskov said.

The Moscow stock market plunged 10% today, reaching the lowest point since the beginning of the invasion. Experts stress that the ‘partial mobilization’, the ‘referendums’ for the incorporation of the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia and the rumors about the closure of borders are stirring panic in the markets, all of which is already perceptible at the macroeconomic level. Perhaps these are the first signs that the mobilization may cause a deep crisis in the Russian economy, much more serious than the one caused by the sanctions imposed by Western countries.




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