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Protests, sold-out flights and concerns over mobilization in Russia: ‘Everyone was afraid of it’

33-year-old Alexander learned of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to order partial mobilization during an emotional call from his partner. “Sasha, they can catch you,” he told her upon arriving at his office in central Moscow.

Although Alexander served in the army as a recruit almost 15 years ago, he had never seen combat. As such, it ranks relatively low in the order of mobilization in post-WWII Russia. However, like many other Russian men, he is worried about A storyCompilation of documents and sending to the front.

“Rather than fight this war, I’m leaving,” he says in a brief conversation guardian through the messaging app. “If they call me, then I want to go [del país]”.

But because of the new law that punishes desertion, he said, he thinks he could face 10 years in prison or more if he escapes. “It is impossible [tomar esta decisión]”. He believes that in case of conscription, he probably “must go” to the army, however, he will try to find a way to avoid it.

Millions of Russians woke up this Wednesday to the realization that they may have to participate in the war and occupation of Ukraine. For nearly seven months, many Russians simply ignored the invasion of Ukraine. Now for many families the war has come to their homes.

“This is what everyone was afraid of when the war started,” says the mother, who believes her son may have been taken.

Others say they are ready to fight. A man over 30 years old, who has already served in the military, considers it his patriotic duty to join the army if he is drafted. “I want to support my country,” he says.

So far, Russia has not closed its borders to prevent those who avoid mobilizing from leaving. But many think this could be the next step.

Expatriate Russians have bought plane tickets to countries such as Turkey and Armenia, where they can travel visa-free. Flights to these countries are sold out before this weekend and can cost upwards of €3,000. Even Aviasales, the flight search engine, has now implemented the option to select a destination “where you can go”.

Many European countries have closed their land borders to Russians, leaving even fewer escape options. Even Russians who leave can face criminal charges of desertion if they are drafted and do not return.

Large state companies have started distributing recruitment documents. “Among our colleagues are employees with combat experience who served in the armed forces,” wrote Sberbank, a state-owned banking and financial services company. “Some have mobilization documentation and the order has already been issued.

Opponents of the war started protests in Russian cities. But the gatherings are small, sometimes only a few people. A man arrested at a protest in Novosibirsk shouted: “I don’t want to die for Putin and you!” According to the independent organization OVD-Info, more than 1,300 people have been detained at the protests.

Opponents also shared a joke with the son of Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov, who was told he was being drafted into the war. In the call, you will hear how the son indicates that he will take this issue “on another level”.

Some opponents of the war called it mobilizationA play on words between the word “mobilization” and the word backpack, the grave. “We know it’s a lot more dangerous than they say,” Alexander says. “If not, why would they need to hire us?”

Translated by Emma Reverter

Source: El Diario

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