Ussian men and their families flocked to the border over the weekend as rumors that the Kremlin might prevent men eligible for mobilization from leaving the country spread.
Witnesses described hours-long lines at Moscow’s main airport and at border crossings into Kazakhstan and Georgia as rumors spread that those who were called up might not be allowed to leave this week.
In response to stories of sick, elderly, or otherwise exempt individuals being conscripted that went viral on social media, the government worked to reassure the populace that the terms of the “partial” mobilization that President Vladimir Putin declared on September 21 would be upheld.
After the Defense Ministry’s assurances failed to assuage the public, Putin issued a deferral order for some students at state vocational schools and universities late on Saturday. The lower house of parliament’s speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, reiterated assurances from a few regional governors on Sunday by promising a “individual” approach to each complaint received.
But according to Russian lawyer Pavel Chikov, who counsels on conscription cases, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, has started preventing men from leaving the country on the orders of military commissariats. He shared images of two notices that were distributed at various border crossings with Kazakhstan.
Unnamed sources were cited over the weekend by the Meduza news website and Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s media group as saying that men of conscription age will be prohibited from leaving the country after the staged referendums on annexation in occupied Ukrainian territory, which are scheduled to end on Tuesday. In the days following Putin’s order for his troops to invade Ukraine in February, similar rumors of an impending border closure circulated, but no such restrictions were put in place at that time.
Across the nation, sporadic, minor demonstrations against Putin’s mobilization have started. According to the monitoring group OVD-Info, as of Sunday evening, police had detained 828 individuals at protests across 35 cities.
According to a video the Kommersant newspaper posted in its Telegram channel, police in Dagestan fired guns into the air to disperse a rally.
According to data released by the Finnish Border Guard, crossings at Finland’s eastern land border more than doubled in the week leading up to Friday, reaching 7,700. Russian arrivals increased to 8,572 by Saturday, while departures increased to 4,199.
According to the Kazakh24.info news website, the CinemaPark movie theater in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, gave Russians crossing the border a place to stay after the influx left many new arrivals looking for housing and drove up prices.
Daniil, a 35-year-old software programmer, claimed that the wait time at the land border in Georgia was roughly 10 kilometers (six miles) long and took around 24 hours. Daniil and his friends rented a van in Vladikavkaz for 10,000 rubles ($170) each.
In the capital city of Tbilisi’s main square, he declared, “I don’t believe that this is a partial mobilization. He stated, “I have this military card that says that I am a soldier but ineligible by age,” despite never having served. However, I am aware that we are all reserves and that this moment will eventually arrive, which is why I came here. They’re just trying to calm people down by saying that there has only been a partial mobilization.