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Mayhem at Russian Border as Thousands Flee Putin’s Draft

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Mayhem at Russian - Georgian borderIt took three days for two 24-year-old friends, photographer Mikhail and tech worker Dmitry, to make the grueling journey across a 16-kilometer-long traffic lineup between Russia and Georgia.

The two men, who only wanted to be identified by their first names for fear of retribution, are among the 261,000 who fled the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “partial” war mobilization last week—a decree that is set to send hundreds of thousands of young Russian men to fight in Ukraine.

Mikhail and Dmitry bought plane tickets from Moscow to the city of Mineral Waters in Russia’s Caucasus region on Thursday, just hours after the mobilization announcement. They then drove to the city of Vladikavkaz, where they said they were forced to leave their car behind after being stopped by a police officer. From there, they walked and hitchhiked their way across the Russian border to Georgia.

Their exodus was the “most horrific time of life,” Mikhail told The Daily Beast. He said it involved multiple interrogations by Russian police, as well as threats of imprisonment and extortion. But the two friends were determined to make their getaway—because they knew exactly what would happen to them if they stayed.


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