Thousands flee mobilization, gunmen attack Russian military recruiter

A young man shot and wounded the chief recruiting officer at a military recruiting station in Russia’s Irkutsk region on Monday, local authorities said, as thousands of men of school age continued to flee the country to escape the attack on President Vla President Vladimir Putin’s war on a mission. Ukraine.

The alleged gunman who attacked the recruiter at a quarters office in Ust-Ilimsk, a small town in Irkutsk, was apparently distraught because his close friend had been recruited despite no previous military service.

In announcing the partial mobilization, Putin had said that only experienced soldiers would be called. “We’re talking about partial mobilization,” the president said in a national address. “That said, only military reservists, primarily those who have served in the military and have specific military occupational specializations and corresponding experience, will be called up.”

But there have been numerous reports across Russia, including from ardent supporters of the war, who were called to duty despite not serving in the military, or being too old or physically incapable of fighting. The reports, along with the government’s admission that thousands of men of school age have fled the country to avoid conscription, suggest the chaotic mobilization is becoming the latest disaster in Putin’s war.

Video footage of Monday’s shooting showed the man, identified as 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin, fired at least one shot inside the office.

“The gunman was arrested immediately and he will definitely be punished,” Igor Kobzev, the governor of the Irkutsk region, wrote on his Telegram blog. “I can’t fully comprehend what happened and I’m ashamed that it happened, instead we should be united.”

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According to Kobzev, recruiter Alexander Eliseev has been hospitalized in critical condition.

Zinin’s mother, Marina Zinina, told Russian media ASTRA that her son was distraught because his best friend received a mobilization summons despite never serving in the military.

“They said there would be a partial mobilization, but it turns out they took everyone away,” she was quoted as saying.

As local food departments rushed to meet quotas, mobilization notices were sent to those who were legally exempt from service due to age, health or lack of military experience.

Some were sent home after public outcry. Others, such as 59-year-old Viktor Dyachok, who has stage 1 skin cancer and is blind in one eye, were called to work, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported.

Amid confusion over who could be summoned, thousands of Russians continued to flee the country on Monday, fearing that the Kremlin would soon move to close the border to let those fleeing in. At the same time, resistance to conscription led to a string of other violent incidents.

In the western Russian city of Ryazan, a man reportedly set himself on fire at a bus stop to protest the war in Ukraine. Local media reported that the authorities did not immediately identify the man and “started laughing and shouting that he did not want to take part in special operations in Ukraine,” using the war euphemism favored by the Kremlin.

A video released by the outlet showed the man, who was not seriously injured, being taken outside the bus terminal by police and ambulance crews.

Sporadic protests have erupted, including in areas of Russia populated mostly by ethnic minorities, such as Dagestan, where the majority of the population is Muslim, or the indigenous lands of Buryatia and Yakutia. Local activists say these areas have been particularly hard hit by the mobilization.

More than 2,300 protesters have been detained in dozens of Russian cities since Putin announced a partial mobilization on Wednesday morning, according to OVD-Info, a rights group that monitors protests in the country.

Propaganda newspaper shows how Russia facilitated annexation of Kharkiv

As the Russians’ departure continued into the weekend and into Monday, traffic jams stretched for miles at the Georgia-Kazakhstan border crossing.

“The blockage on the Russian-Georgian border lasts about 20 kilometers” — about 12.5 miles — “and now the wait time to enter Georgia is up to three days,” Nikolai Levshitz, a Russian-speaking blogger who helps expatriates assimilate in Georgia, says in his wrote in the Daily Telegraph update.

With air tickets to almost all visa-free destinations already sold out, Russians are crossing the border on foot, by car or even by bicycle, hoping to reduce the time they have to wait to leave. Photos and video footage posted on social media showed piles of abandoned bicycles near the border post.

A Russian man who arrived at Istanbul airport on Monday morning said he was on a charter flight from Moscow because commercial flights were sold out. He said he paid about $5,000 for his seat.

Weekend reports from Russia’s independent media said authorities could close the country’s borders and bar the military from enlisting as early as Wednesday.

Meduza and Khodorkovsky Live, citing Russian government sources, said Moscow would halt the withdrawal immediately after announcing the results of a phased referendum on parts of four Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian troops. There is no doubt that the referendum result was illegal under Ukrainian and international law, and the Kremlin will report its results showing overwhelming support for Russia’s annexation of the occupied territories.

Western countries slammed the referendum as a “hoax” and Britain on Monday announced a new round of sanctions on 90 individuals and companies involved in organizing the referendum, expected to end on Tuesday.

“The sham referendums held under the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair, and we will never acknowledge their results,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said in a statement. “They are in Russian-occupied Ukraine. Follow a clear pattern of violence, intimidation, torture and forced eviction.”

Kremlin proxies hold referendum as Russia aims to seize Ukrainian land

Putin and his supporters say that once Russia annexes the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, the Kremlin will consider any Ukrainian attack on these regions to be a direct blow to Russia. Could justify stronger retaliation, including the use of nuclear weapons, and justify the declaration of partial or total martial law.

On Monday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the rumours, saying “no decision has been made in this regard.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles from Moscow, Putin met his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in the sunny Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Lukashenko allowed Putin to use Belarus as a staging ground for the February invasion of Ukraine, which included Putin’s efforts to fail to seize Kyiv and toppling the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In 2020, Lukashenko claimed he was re-elected in an election widely derided as fraudulent. He then cracked down on protests that saw thousands of Belarusians beaten and severely imprisoned. In the two years since, between 100,000 and 200,000 people have left Belarus.

At Monday’s meeting, Lukashenko told Putin not to “worry” that the Russians are doing the same now.

“Let’s say there are 30,000, maybe even 50,000,” Lukashenko told Putin of the Russian man’s recent departure. “So what? If they stay here, will they be our people? Let them run,” Lukashenko said in his opening remarks.

“I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’m not too worried,” Lukashenko said, referring to the thousands who left in 2020. “Most people are begging to come back,” he told Putin. “Yours will come back too.”

Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, and Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.

Ukraine war: what you need to know

Newest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of the military in his Sept. 9 national address. On the 21st, the move was characterized as an attempt to defend Russia’s sovereignty against the West, which was trying to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow us here for live updates.

Fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in recent days has forced Russia into a massive retreat in the northeastern region of Kharkiv as troops fled the cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned vast quantities of military equipment.

Merger referendum: The staged referendum, which is illegal under international law, will begin on September 1. According to the Russian news agency, from the 23rd to the 27th local time, the separate regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The Moscow-appointed government will start another staged referendum in Kherson on Friday.

photo: Photographers for The Washington Post have been on the ground since the war began — some of their most influential work.

How you can help: Here’s how Americans can help support the people of Ukraine, and people around the world have been giving.

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