As early as Tuesday evening, a question shot into the trends on Google and other search engines: How do I leave Russia? In recent weeks, the Kremlin has been preparing the ground for announcing a mobilization. Once a deputy in the Duma demanded this measure. Times the propagandists of the state television said that this was the only right step. In Russia, mobilization is a bogeyman. It means nothing other than that soon hundreds of thousands of young men will be sent to war.
When Vladimir Putin's order for so-called partial mobilization was issued on Wednesday morning, many Russians' worst fears came true. 300,000 reservists are to be drafted, announced Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
"Why should someone who hasn't wanted to go to war want to go to war now?" asks political scientist Abbas Galliamov. He once wrote speeches for Putin himself. Now he expects uprisings and protests against the Kremlin's decision.
While the West racks its brains about what Putin intends to achieve with this strategy, the Russians are fleeing their country. On the most popular Russian website for booking flights Aviasales, there is not a single flight to Istanbul available for September 21 - neither direct nor with stopovers, reports the investigative Russian platform "The Insider". There are also no direct flights to other cities in Turkey such as Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman and Izmir.
Another popular exit destination for Russian citizens is Armenia. There are airports in only two cities: Yerevan and Gyumri. There are no flights in either direction for September 21, neither direct nor transit.
There are also no more flights to Azerbaijan. Likewise, no direct or transit flights to the countries of Central Asia Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Russian independent media, meanwhile, are publishing lists of countries that Russians can enter without a visa or passport. "Meduza" lists, for example, that you can get to Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan without a passport. You don't need a visa for countries like Georgia, Egypt, Mexico or Israel.
In an interview with Alexei Navalny's team, lawyer Vyacheslav Gimadi advises his compatriots: "In order to avoid mobilization, one must not respond to conscription. Ignore the summonses, leave the country, leave your place of residence."
According to the Russian statistical authority, 419,000 people left Russia in the first half of this year. That is more than twice as many as in the same period last year, as reported by the RBC news agency. This is the first time in recent Russian history that more people have emigrated than immigrated (322,000 people).
Watch the video: In a TV speech, Russia's President Putin announced the partial mobilization of Russia. 300,000 additional men could be used for the war against Ukraine. Moscow reporter Rainer Munz classifies the current developments in the video.