packing | Russia’s neighbors face mass immigration

(Astana) “As a precaution” in the face of “complete chaos,” Fyodor hastily chose to leave Russia to go to Kazakhstan, like many of his compatriots, fearing that they would rally for an attack in Ukraine.

Posted at 6:33 AM
Updated at 1:22 PM.

It took almost two days for this Muscovite to reach the border with Kazakhstan, and then he waited several hours before he was allowed to enter the territory of this vast country in Central Asia.

“It was raining, it was cold, but a six-hour wait, that’s still reasonable under the circumstances,” he told AFP by phone.

According to Fyodor, he is not included in the list of 300,000 reservists who were planned to reinforce Moscow’s forces involved in Ukraine. “But we’re not yet measuring everything that’s going to happen,” he said.

Fyodor explains that he left Moscow on Saturday “as a precaution”, “to have a head start, just in case …”.

His story is not isolated, and authorities in Kazakhstan, as well as authorities in Georgia, another former Soviet republic on the border with Russia, reported on Tuesday a sharp increase in Russian arrivals since Vladimir Putin’s Sept. 21 mobilization.

Russian arrivals in Georgia nearly doubled to nearly 10,000 per day after the announcement, according to the Georgian Interior Ministry.

The number has increased to about 10,000 per day. For example, their number was 11,200 on Sunday and less than 10,000 on Monday,” compared to “5,000 to 6,000” before the announcement of mobilization in Russia on September 21, the ministry said.

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On the border with Georgia, the authorities in the Russian North Ossetia region recognized the “tense situation” at the Verkne Lars checkpoint.

The local Interior Ministry announced the formation of a “military mobilization committee” in the border area to recruit reservists trying to leave.

“afraid”

For its part, the Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan, one of the former Soviet republics located in Central Asia bordering Russia, said that 98,000 Russian citizens have arrived in the country since September 21.

However, he did not provide any comparison with the previous week.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev assured him on Tuesday that his country, a traditional ally of Moscow, but which has distanced itself since the attack on Ukraine, will protect Russians fleeing to Kazakhstan to escape the mobilization.

“We have to take care of them and ensure their safety,” he added.

Vladislav, a 25-year-old bartender who lives in Moscow, has taken refuge in the capital, Astana, since Monday evening.

“Fear” prompted him to hastily pack his bags and leave in a hurry: “A week ago, I did not imagine that I would be in Kazakhstan. But imagine that I can go to work or go shopping and never go home … ”, he told AFP. “I didn’t want to die.”

For his part, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev once again condemned the conflict in Ukraine, and called for respect for territorial integrity at a time when Russia is organizing “referendums” denounced by Kyiv as “simulated” in four Ukrainian regions to formalize it. annexation.

He pointed out that “the integrity of the state’s territory should be inalienable, this is a fundamental principle.”

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Allied with Russia and in particular a member of an economic and customs union, Kazakhstan also maintains good relations with the West and China.

Moscow’s attack on Ukraine has raised fears of some Kazakhs that they could also become a target of Russian ambitions, particularly due to its long border with Russia and the large Russian ethnic minority.

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