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Russian males be a part of exodus, fearing call-up to combat in Ukraine


ISTANBUL — Army-aged males fled Russia in droves Friday, filling planes and inflicting visitors jams at border crossings to keep away from being rounded as much as combat in Ukraine following the Kremlin’s partial navy mobilization.

Queues stretching for 10 kilometers (6 miles) fashioned on a highway resulting in the southern border with Georgia, in line with Yandex Maps, a Russian on-line map service.

The traces of vehicles have been so lengthy on the border with Kazakhstan that some folks deserted their automobiles and proceeded on foot — simply as some Ukrainians did after Russia invaded their nation on Feb. 24.

In the meantime, dozens of flights out of Russia — with tickets offered at sky-high costs — carried males to worldwide locations corresponding to Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Serbia, the place Russians don’t want visas.

Amongst those that reached Turkey was a 41-year-old who landed in Istanbul with a suitcase and a backpack and plans to start out a brand new life in Israel.

“I’m towards this struggle, and I’m not going to be part of it. I’m not going to be a assassin. I’m not going to kill folks,” stated the person, who recognized himself solely as Yevgeny to keep away from potential retribution towards his household left behind in Russia.

He referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “struggle prison.”

Yevgeny determined to flee after Putin introduced a partial navy call-up on Wednesday. The entire variety of reservists concerned might be as excessive as 300,000.

Some Russian males additionally fled to neighboring Belarus, Russia’s shut ally. However that carried threat.

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The Nasha Niva newspaper, one of many oldest impartial newspapers in Belarus, reported that Belarusian safety providers have been ordered to trace down Russians fleeing from the draft, discover them in resorts and rented residences and report them to Russian authorities.

German authorities officers voiced a need to assist Russian males deserting navy service, and so they known as for a European answer.

“Those that bravely stand as much as Putin’s regime and thereby put themselves in nice hazard can apply for asylum in Germany on the grounds of political persecution,” the spokesman for German Inside Minister Nancy Faeser stated.

The spokesman, Maximilian Kall, stated deserters and people refusing to be drafted would obtain refugee standing in Germany if they’re liable to severe repression, although each case is examined individually.

However they might first need to make it to Germany, which has no land border with Russia, and like different European Union nations has develop into far tougher for Russians to journey to.

The EU banned direct flights between its 27 member states and Russia after the assault on Ukraine, and just lately agreed to restrict issuing Schengen visas, which permit free motion throughout a lot of Europe.

4 out of 5 EU nations that border Russia — Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland — additionally just lately determined to show away Russian vacationers.

Some European officers view fleeing Russians as potential safety dangers. They hope that by not opening their borders, it’ll improve stress towards Putin at dwelling.

Latvian Overseas Minister Edgars Rinkevics stated Thursday that a lot of these fleeing “have been high-quality with killing Ukrainians. They didn’t protest then. It isn’t proper to think about them as conscientious objectors.”

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The one EU nation that’s nonetheless accepting Russians with Schengen visas is Finland, which has a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia.

Finland border guards stated Friday that the variety of folks getting into from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% improve in contrast with final week.

At Vaalimaa, one of many busiest crossings on the border, the road of ready vehicles stretched for half a kilometer (a 3rd of a mile), the Finnish Border Guard stated.

Finnish broadcaster MTV carried interviews with Russian males who had simply crossed into Finland on the Virolahti border crossing, together with with a person named Yuri from Moscow who stated that no “sane individual” desires to go to struggle.

A Russian man from St. Petersburg, Andrei Balakirov, stated he had been mentally ready to go away Russia for half a yr however put it off till the mobilization.

“I feel it’s a extremely dangerous factor,” he stated.

Valery, a person from Samara who was heading to Spain, agreed, calling the mobilization “a fantastic tragedy.”

“It’s exhausting to explain what’s occurring. I really feel sorry for many who are pressured to combat towards their will. I’ve heard tales that individuals have been given these orders proper within the streets — scary.”

Related Press writers Frank Jordans in Berlin; Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland; Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark; and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed.



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