October 5, 2022

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‘I don’t want to die’: Russians who fled at Putin’s summons account | Ukraine and Russia

In the arrivals area of ​​Yerevan airport in Armenia, Sergei is seen looking very tired and exhausted after a hasty escape. Russia with his son for fear of being sent against Ukraine.

The 44-year-old, who did not want to give his last name, is one of thousands of Russians who have fled their country since the invasion. UkraineA phenomenon that seems to have increased from Announcement this Wednesday President Vladimir Putin mobilized a fraction of the quotas.

Officials have said 300,000 reservists will be called up, but many Russians fear a much larger mobilization.

Russians arrive at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia – Photo: Karen Minassian/AFP

“The situation Russia It made me decide to leave. Yes, we left Russia Because of the mobilization,” said Sergey. His 17-year-old son Nikolai agrees: “We decided not to wait until we were drafted.”

He emphasizes the uncertainty and expresses his sadness at the events, a sentiment shared by other Russians who arrived on the same flight to Armenia, a country in the Caucasus where they can stay for up to 180 days without needing a visa.

“Going to war in the 21st century is not a good thing,” said Alexey, 39.

I don’t know if he can return Russia one day. “It all depends on the situation,” he says.

Russians arrive at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia – Photo: Karen Minassian/AFP

Another Russian, who declined to be named for security reasons, says he was shocked when the mobilization was announced.

at Russia“Almost nobody supports this war,” he says, “and it’s very painful, and I want it to end.”

After Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order, most of the people arriving in Yerevan are men of combat age. Many of them were afraid and reluctant to share their reasons for leaving everything.

On Wednesday, more than 1,300 people were arrested Russia According to the specialized NGO OVD-Information, in protests against mobilization.

Russian police officers detain men during a protest against the mobilization of reservists by Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21, 2022 – Photo: Reuters

Dimitri, 45, says he fled to Armenia with only one bag, leaving behind his wife and two children, not knowing what to do next.

“I don’t want to go to war. I don’t want to die in this senseless war. It’s a fraternal war”, he says.

According to Google Trends, a tool that tracks search trends on Google, “exit frequency Russia“The mobilization increased almost 100-fold after the announcement on Wednesday morning.

Russians arrive at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia – Photo: Karen Minassian/AFP

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that reports of Russians leaving were “grossly exaggerated.”

However, flights from RussiaSince the adoption of Western sanctions following the invasion, it has been very limited and expensive UkraineAlmost all remaining locations are sold out for the next few days.

On social media, many feared an imminent border closure that would deprive the Russians of any access, including land.

A 23-year-old Muscovite, a project manager, told AFP on condition of anonymity that he had hurriedly booked the flight after the mobilization announcement. Russia In October.

Russians arrive at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia – Photo: Karen Minassian/AFP

“I fear mobilization. I am one of those at risk of being called up,” he said.

Among his friends, “some went to demonstrations (against mobilization) because they had nothing to lose. Others researched the laws and consulted lawyers to see if they risked being called”, the young man continues.

According to the latest figures from the Armenian Immigration Service, nearly 40,000 Russians have arrived in the country since the invasion of Armenia began in June. Ukraine. In neighboring Georgia, 50,000 arrived in the same period, according to official figures.

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