Seven months after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the streets of several Russian cities have been chanting “no to war”. Russian citizens have protested in various parts of the country against the announcement of a “partial mobilization” of the population made on Wednesday by their president, Vladimir Putin. With a serious tone, his hands resting on the table and his eyes fixed on the camera, the Russian president sent to the front more than 300,000 compatriots, who will pack their bags and head for the border in the next few days. The measure, which had been expected since a week ago when Ukraine pushed back Russian soldiers on the battlefield and the internal pressure in the Kremlin environment increased, has caused queues at several borders of the country and the collapse of flights leaving from Russia.
Protests in Yekaterinburg, Moscow or Saint Petersburg, which were announced by the Russian opposition for Wednesday afternoon, were quickly repressed throughout the afternoon, resulting in more than 1,400 arrests. The cameras of the international press witnessed the constant flow of people being pushed onto buses which, as soon as they filled up, headed for the police stations.
Hours earlier, the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office had gone ahead to warn that participation in the demonstrations or the mere dissemination of the calls for demonstrations could constitute a crime. The Public Prosecutor’s Office pointed out that these demonstrations have not been coordinated with the relevant authorities, who must give permission for any such action. It should be noted that the authorities have not authorized any anti-war rally in the seven months of the invasion.
— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) September 21, 2022
During his second televised speech since the beginning of the Russian offensive, Putin pointed the finger of blame for this situation at the West, whom he blamed for having “crossed all red lines”, dropping the possible use of nuclear weapons. “This is not a bluff,” he went so far as to say. Furthermore, he expressed that the countries that are now on Ukraine’s side “have been drawing these plans for a long time” and blamed them also for the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The message comes a day after the simultaneous announcement of referendums on annexation to Russia scheduled for the next few days in the occupied provinces of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson or Zaporiyia. Putin assured that he would “protect” these popular consultations and put the spotlight on the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union: “They are directly pushing Kiev to move military operations to our territory. They no longer hide that Russia must be defeated by all means on the battlefield, followed by deprivation of all political, economic and cultural sovereignty.”
Exodus of Russian citizens: flights from Moscow to five countries sold out after Putin announces “partial mobilization”
Google Trends data recorded on Wednesday morning – and following the announcement of the partial mobilization of the Russian population towards war – an increase in searches for Aviasales, Russia’s most popular web portal for buying flights.
Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul (Turkey) and Yerevan (in Armenia), were sold out on Wednesday, according to data collected by Reuters. The Moscow Times reports that flights from the Russian capital to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi have also sold out. “They were unavailable just minutes after Putin’s announcement,” the Moscow media outlet says.
The Russian business daily RBC adds two other sold-out destinations for Wednesday and Thursday: Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Baku (Azerbaijan). Some of these destinations do not require visas for Russian citizens. According to the search engines of Turkish Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines and Armenia Aircompany there were no flights for a few days or only in business class.
Flights departing Moscow and St. Petersburg today. The @AP is reporting international flights departing Russia have either sold out or skyrocketed in price after Putin announced a mobilization of reservists.
Search SVO, VKO, DME for Moscow airports and LED for St. Petersburg. pic.twitter.com/LV2PrkwPD9
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) September 21, 2022
By midday direct flights to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan also disappeared from aggregators such as aviasales.ru.
According to the head of the Federal Tourism Agency, Zarina Dogúzova, there are currently no restrictions for Russians to leave the country due to partial mobilization. “I receive a lot of questions about going abroad under conditions of partial mobilization. According to our information, at the moment there are no restrictions on traveling abroad,” she wrote on her official Telegram channel.
-Thailand News (TN)