How tickets to leave Russia were sold after Putin’s decision to mobilize thousands of reservists

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Passengers at Yerevan Airport, Armenia.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday a partial mobilization of additional troops to fight in Ukraine, an atmosphere of turmoil reigned in Russia.

Putin said about 300,000 reservists will be called up to reinforce Russian forces that have suffered recent setbacks on the battlefield on Ukrainian soil.

After the announcement, thousands of protesters took to the streets in different Russian cities and more 1,000 ended up in custody.

image source, France Press agency


Moscow police arrested protesters on Wednesday.

In this context, rather than protest, many Russians seem to be considering leaving their country to avoid being sent to the front lines.

An example is that airline tickets abroad, to destinations where Russians do not need a visa, They are all sold out or have reached exorbitant prices.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia ran out on Wednesday, and are no longer available until next Sunday, according to data from Aviasales, Russia’s most popular flight booking site.

Some routes with stops, including those from Moscow to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, were also unavailable, while Cheapest flights to Dubaiayo It cost more than 300,000 rubles (about $5,000 US), Reuters reported.

land crossing

After Putin announced the partial mobilization of troops, conversations on Telegram dedicated to leaving Russia began to be filled with messages asking if men were allowed to leave the country through the land border, and the service was able to confirm this. BBC Russian.

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“We were worried about how we would cross the border. But there were no problems, there were no queues,” Alexander, who left his country through the checkpoint in Vladikavkaz, told the BBC. entered Georgia.

According to him, he and three friends left Russia by car. Two of them are men between the ages of 35 and 29.

Alexander and one of his friends are reservists, but according to him, the Russian border guards were not interested in this information on Wednesday.

No one asked for anything. They asked the usual questions: plans for Georgia and so on. So far there are no problems.”

To Valeria (name changed at her request) and her 33-year-old husband too They were allowed to cross into Georgia Without any questions. According to her, they crossed the border at 12:30 local time on Wednesday.

“They didn’t ask for anything at all, we passed very quickly, everything took an hour, there are no traffic jams, but I think the situation will change at night,” he said.

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Peter, 30 (who asked that his real name not be used), told the BBC he had gone through passport control at St Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport and was waiting for a flight to Istanbul. He confirmed that he bought a ticket a long time ago.

At the border, he said, no one asked whether he was subject to registration for military service and the mobilization announced by Putin.

Can men leave Russia?

Neither President Vladimir Putin in his speech on Wednesday nor Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said anything about whether the men under partial mobilization would be prevented from leaving Russia.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he could not yet answer the question of whether the borders would be closed to those subject to partial mobilization and promised to clarify this issue.


Passport and military ID of Russia.

“There are different texts on this issue in the current laws. Let’s be a little patient. Explanations will come on this matter,” Interfax quoted a Kremlin representative as saying.

The head of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, Zarina Dogozova, wrote on her Telegram channel, that no additional restrictions were imposed on Russians traveling abroad at the moment.

Lawyers interviewed by the BBC Russian Service They are not entirely sure if the law forbids men from traveling abroad in conditions of partial mobilization.

“It is not known how this restriction will work in practice and whether travel abroad will be restricted. I have seen public statements by officials that there will be no restrictions, but the law clearly specifies that it is forbidden to go outside without special permission,” he explains.

So far, There is no law in Russia that prevents those who are under partial mobilization from leaving the countryFor his part, the lawyer Arseny Levinson confirmed.

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Russian law does not specify the gender of the citizens who must be mobilized.

Women who have not served in combat units can be called up for military service if they are enlisted in the military and have majors in categories such as computer engineering, medicine, or printing and cartography, among others.

*With a report by Amalia Zaatari from BBC Russia in Moscow.

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