Putin, announcing the partial mobilization, had said only experienced military personnel would be called up. “We are talking about partial mobilization,” the president said in a national speech. “In other words, only military reservists, primarily those who have served in the armed forces and have specific military professional specialties and associated experience, will be called up.”
But there is a torrent of reports across Russia, including from ardent supporters of the war, of people being drafted into service despite having no previous military service, or being too old or otherwise physically incapable of going to war. . Those reports, along with the government’s admission that thousands of combat-age men have fled the country to avoid conscription, suggest the chaotic mobilization will be the latest debacle in Putin’s war.
A video clip from Monday’s shooting showed the man, identified as 25-year-old Ruslan Zinin, fired at least one shot in the office.
“The gunman was arrested immediately and he will certainly be punished,” Irkutsk regional governor Igor Kobzev wrote in his Telegram blog. “I can’t put my mind to what has happened, and I am ashamed that this is happening at a time when we should be united.”
Russian mobilization sparks backlash as Ukraine’s annexation effort progresses
According to Kobzev, the recruiter, Alexander Eliseev, has been hospitalized in critical condition.
Zinin’s mother, Marina Zinina, told Russian outlet ASTRA that her son was distraught because his best friend received a mobilization subpoena, despite never having served in the military.
“They said there would be a partial mobilization, but it turns out they’re taking everyone,” she said.
As local commissioners rushed to meet quotas, mobilization messages were sent to men who should be legally exempt from service because of their age, health or lack of military experience.
Some were sent home after a public uproar. Others, such as 59-year-old Viktor Dyachok, who has stage 1 skin cancer and is blind in one eye, were called up for duty, independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported.
Amid swirling confusion over who could be summoned, thousands of Russians continued to flee the country on Monday, fearing the Kremlin would soon move to close its borders to runaway men. Meanwhile, opposition to the call to war has sparked a spate of other violent incidents.
In Ryazan, a city in western Russia, a man allegedly set himself on fire at a bus station to protest the war in Ukraine. Local outlet YA62.ru reported that the man, who authorities did not immediately identify, “started laughing and shouting that he did not want to participate in the special operation in Ukraine”, using the Kremlin-chosen euphemism for the war.
A video posted by the outlet shows the man, who was not seriously injured, being led outside the bus station by police and paramedics.
Occasional protests have erupted, including in Russian regions mainly populated by ethnic minorities such as Dagestan, where the majority of the population is Muslim, or in the indigenous countries of Buryatia and Yakutia. Local activists say these areas are disproportionately affected by the mobilization.
More than 2,300 protesters have been detained in dozens of Russian cities since Putin announced the partial mobilization on Wednesday morning, according to rights group OVD-Info, which is monitoring protest activity in the country.
Propaganda newspapers show how Russia annexation in Kharkiv. promoted
Traffic jams have built up for miles at the border crossings with Georgia and Kazakhstan, while Russian departures continued throughout the weekend and Monday.
“The traffic jam at the Russian-Georgian border continues for about 20 kilometers” – about 20 miles – “and the waiting time to cross Georgia is now up to three days”, Nikolai Levshitz, a Russian-speaking blogger who helps expats assimilate in Georgia, wrote in his daily Telegram update.
With plane tickets to virtually all visa-free destinations that have long sold out, Russians cross on foot, car, or even bicycle in hopes of reducing the wait time to depart. Photos and video clips posted on social media show piles of abandoned bicycles near the border posts.
A Russian man who arrived at Istanbul airport Monday morning said he had taken a charter flight from Moscow because commercial flights had sold out. He said he paid about $5,000 for his chair.
Weekend reports from Russian independent media say authorities may close the country’s borders to military-aged men from Wednesday.
The media Meduza and Khodorkovsky Live, citing Russian government sources, each reported that Moscow will halt the departure once the results of staged referendums now being held in parts of four Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian troops are known. There is no doubt that the results of the referendums, which are illegal under Ukrainian and international law, will be reported by the Kremlin as overwhelming support for Russia’s annexation of the occupied territories.
Western countries labeled the referenda a “sham”, and Britain announced on Monday a new round of sanctions against 90 individuals and companies involved in organizing the process, which is expected to conclude on Tuesday.
“Sham referendums held with the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair and we will never recognize their results,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement. “They are following a clear pattern of violence, intimidation, torture and forced deportations in the areas of Ukraine that Russia has taken.”
Kremlin agrees to referendum as Russia wants to conquer Ukrainian land
Putin and his supporters have indicated that once Russia has annexed the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, the Kremlin would view any Ukrainian attack on those areas as direct attacks on Russia, potentially justifying stronger reprisals, including the use of nuclear weapons, and providing a basis for declaring partial or full martial law.
On Monday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refuted those rumors by saying that no decisions have been made in this regard.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles from Moscow, Putin met his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, in the sunny Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Lukashenko allowed Putin to use Belarus as a staging area for the February invasion of Ukraine, including Putin’s failed attempt to take Kiev and overthrow the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In 2020, Lukashenko claimed to have been re-elected in an election widely derided as fraudulent. He then crushed the protests and subjected thousands of Belarusians to beatings and heavy prison sentences. In the two years since, 100,000 to 200,000 people have left Belarus.
At their meeting on Monday, Lukashenko told Putin not to worry about the Russians now doing the same.
“Let’s say there are 30,000, even 50,000 left,” Lukashenko told Putin about the recent departure of Russian men. “And then? If they had stayed here, would they have been our people? Let them run,” Lukashenko said in his opening remarks.
“I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t too worried,” Lukashenko said, referring to the thousands who left in 2020. “Most are begging to come back,” he told Putin. “And yours will come back too.”
Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abakumova in Riga, Latvia, and Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.
War in Ukraine: what you need to know
The last: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in a speech to the nation on Sept. 21, interpreting the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that wants to use Ukraine as a tool to ” divide and destroy Russia”. .” Follow our live updates here.
The fight: A successful Ukrainian counter-offensive in recent days has forced a major Russian withdrawal in the northeastern region of Kharkov, as troops fled the towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war, leaving behind large amounts of military equipment.
Annexation referendums: Organized referenda, allegedly illegal under international law, will take place from September 23 to 27 in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. From Friday, another phased referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed government in Kherson.
Photos: Photographers for the Washington Post have been on the scene since the beginning of the war – here is some of their most powerful work.
How you can help: Here are ways people in the US can help support the Ukrainian people, as well as what people around the world have donated.
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