Thousands of Russian citizens are trying to leave the country to avoid a mobilization which, according to some media, could go well beyond the 300,000 men announced by the Kremlin.
Since Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing the partial mobilization of reservists to be sent to the front in Ukraine, the whole country has been shaken. Several protests have erupted across Russia and many people are seeking to leave the country to avoid mobilization. But a problem arises: to go where?
Katia, met by BFMTV, arrived in France in June to flee the regime of Vladimir Poutine. She came with her son on a humanitarian visa. Her husband stayed in Moscow to continue earning money to support the family. For three days, he has been technically “mobilizable” by the Russian army.
“It’s impossible (for him to go there). We have different possibilities to avoid going to war, such as shooting ourselves in the foot or going to prison. So for nothing in the world he would kill people. Ukrainians, because in addition we have many friends in Ukraine”, explains Katia to our microphone.
All flights taken over
The option favored by her husband for the moment is therefore flight. However, getting out of Russia is more and more complicated. All day, Katia tries to find a way. But, she explains, plane tickets are now taken by storm and therefore overpriced: between 7 and 10,000 euros to go to Dubai
All flights are full for Armenia, Turkey or Georgia. A similar situation for buses and trains.
“We are going to try to leave on Monday by car. Belarus seems impossible to me, it will be the same as here. We are going to try via Estonia or Latvia. For me it is unacceptable to stay”, explains on the telephone the Katia’s husband.
“I am against waging war on a neighboring country, I am against the occupation of Ukraine and the massacre of its inhabitants,” he adds.
European countries divided
For those who manage to leave Russia, the question of the visa obviously arises. Germany announced on Thursday that it would offer asylum to Russian deserters. Conversely, Finland and Latvia have closed their borders to them. The European countries are for the moment in dispersed order on the question.
In France, the Minister of Foreign Affairs kicked into touch. “We are going to discuss it with the European institutions. Of course, we must meet the needs of a large majority of the Russian population by allowing them to express their vision of things, to leave Russia and come to us”, a- she said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“We are working in this direction,” she concluded.
“Those who try to leave anyway are arrested by the police”
Katia lives with other exiles including Yana. The latter has four brothers, between 19 and 28 years old, who live in small towns in eastern Siberia. All are mobilized. She therefore also hopes that France will welcome them, but she is aware that it will be extremely difficult for them to leave Russia.
“Young men can’t buy bus tickets, we don’t sell them. And those who try to leave anyway are arrested by the police,” she explains to our microphone.
According to the Russian investigative site Meduza, 1.2 million Russians could be drafted into the army in the coming weeks.