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Young people flee draft, Finland restricts entry NewsPipa

NewsPipa

Nikita, 27, decided to leave her hometown when she saw Russian President Vladimir Putin announce the mobilization of the army during a visit to his uncle in St. Petersburg.

Two days later he crossed the border into Finland.

A few minutes into the Nordic country, the sound engineer said:

I’m just for freedom, Russia (freedom) from Putin, Russian democracy.

He first fled Russia after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine into Turkey and returned for a short visit to obtain some documents. He is currently planning to return to Turkey.

“It’s just madness. I’m just for freedom, for Russia to be freed from Putin, for Russian democracy,” he said through tears. He refused to use his surname.

Nikita was one of a dozen young people Reuters spoke to at the Vallima border crossing in southeastern Finland, a number that has grown since President Putin announced the call-up of 300,000 military reservists. continuing.

They were traveling on tourist visas but said they were not coming back or were considering not coming back.

“I’m leaving Russia,” said 21-year-old Alexander, who was due to go to France.

Traffic across the Russian border to Finland was heavy on Friday. But the Finnish government is wary of becoming a major transit country and plans to stop all Russians from entering the country on tourist visas in the next few days, said Foreign Minister Pekka Harvist in New York. said at a press conference.

“All tourist travel is suspended,” Haavisto said.

He said that exceptions could apply for humanitarian reasons, but avoiding conscription was unlikely to be a reason for exile.

Finnish border guards said the number of Russians who entered the country the day before was more than double the number of arrivals the previous week.

About 7,000 people entered the country from Russia on Thursday, about 6,000 of them Russian nationals, according to border guards.

Max, a 21-year-old Russian student who refused to give his last name, said he was going to Finland to catch a flight to Germany to visit relatives.

“Technically, I’m a student, so I shouldn’t be afraid to be drafted, but I’ve seen things change rapidly, so I think I have a chance,” he told Reuters. “I just wanted to be safe.”

A Russian couple, Slava, 29, and Yevgeny, 35, also retired due to the uncertainty of being drafted into the army at some point.

They decided to leave the moment Putin announced partial mobilization on Wednesday, they said. Their family cried when they left, they said.

“There is no demand at this stage, but we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Slava told Reuters. “We don’t support what’s going on. We don’t want to be a part of it.”

“(Leaving) was a difficult decision. We have plans, we have careers. The best-case scenario is to return. On the other hand, it is essential to save (our) lives.”

Finnish border

After a series of countries closed both their physical borders and their airspace to Russian planes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finnish land border crossings became one of the few entry points into Europe for Russians. Only one remains.

Lines of up to 400 meters were lined up on Friday at Vallimah, the busiest crossing, longer than the day before, border officials said.

“There is more traffic than last Friday,” Vallimar station deputy director Elias Raine told Reuters. “I expect traffic jams to continue over the weekend.”

Those who arrived by car or bus left their vehicles to check their documents before continuing their journey. Border guards searched several vehicles.

Even at the second-largest Nuijamaa crossing, the lines were “longer than usual.”

Finland chose to keep its borders with Russia open after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but reduced the number of consulates available to Russian travelers seeking visas.

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