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‘I will cross the border tonight’: Russians flee after news of draft – The Guardian

‘I will cross the border tonight’: Russians flee after news of draft

Border guards cite ‘exceptional’ number of people leaving the country after ‘partial mobilisation’ announcement

Russia-Ukraine war – latest updates

Cars from Russia queue at the border into Finland.

Hours after Vladimir Putin shocked Russia by announcing the first mobilisation since the second world war, Oleg received his draft papers in the mailbox, ordering him to make his way to the local recruitment centre in Kazan, the capital of the ​​Tatarstan republic.

As a 29-year-old sergeant in the Russian reserves, Oleg said he always knew that he would be the first in line if a mobilisation was declared, but held out hope that he would not be forced to fight in the war in Ukraine.

“My heart sank when I got the call-up,” he said. “But I knew I had no time to despair.”

He quickly packed all his belongings and booked a one-way ticket to Orenburg, a southern Russian city close to the border with Kazakhstan.

“I will be driving across the border tonight,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday from the airport in Orenburg. “I have no idea when I’ll step foot in Russia again,” he added, referring to the jail sentence Russian men face for avoiding the draft.

Oleg said he will leave behind his wife, who is due to give birth next week. “I will miss the most important day of my life. But I am simply not letting Putin turn me into a killer in a war that I want no part in.”

The Kremlin’s decision to announce a partial mobilisation has led to a rush among men of military age to leave the country, likely sparking a new, possibly unprecedented brain drain in the coming days and weeks.

The Guardian spoke to over a dozen men and women who had left Russia since Putin announced the so-called partial mobilisation, or who are planning to do so in the next few days.

Options to flee are limited, they say. Earlier this week, four of the five EU countries bordering Russia announced they would no longer allow Russians to enter on tourist visas.


Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Yerevan, Tashkent and Baku, the capitals of countries allowing Russians visa-free entry, were sold out for the next week, while the cheapest one-way flight from Moscow to Dubai cost about 370,000 rubles (£5,000) – a fee too steep for most.

And so many, like Oleg, were forced to get creative and drive to some of the few land borders still open to Russians.

Border guards in Finland, the last EU country that still allows entry to Russians with tourist visas, said that they have noticed an “exceptional number” of Russian nationals seeking to cross the border overnight, while eyewitnesses also said the Russian-Georgian and Russian-Mongolian borders were “collapsing” with overwhelming traffic.

“We are seeing an even bigger exodus than when the war started,” said Ira Lobanovskaya, who started the “Guide to the free World” NGO, which helps Russians against the war leave the country.

She said her website had received over one and half million visits since Putin’s speech on Wednesday. According to Lobanovkaya’s estimates, over 70,000 Russians that used the group’s services have already left or made concrete plans to leave.

“These are people who are buying one-way tickets. They won’t be coming back as long as mobilisation is ongoing,” she said.

Many of those who are still in Russia will feel that time is running out. At least three regions have already announced they will close their borders to men eligible for the draft.

Border agents at Russian airports have also reportedly started interrogating departing male passengers about their military service status and checking return tickets.

After thousands of Russians rallied against the war and mobilisation on Wednesday, some took to social media to criticise protesters for not speaking out earlier, when their country’s troops were committing human rights abuses in Bucha, Irpin and countless of other towns across Ukraine.

Policemen detaining protesters in central St. Petersburg

“I understand people’s frustration,” said Igor, a 26-year-old IT professional from St Petersburg, who is planning to fly to Vladikavkaz and drive to Georgia, another popular fleeing route used by Russians, next week. “I attended the anti-war protest when Putin launched his invasion, but the authorities just jail everyone.”

Some of the protesters detained in Moscow have subsequently been given draft notices while locked up, according to the monitoring group OVD, further underlying the dangers average Russians face when taking to the streets.

“I think the only way I can personally help Ukraine right now is by not fighting there,” Igor said.

There have also been calls for the EU to support Russians who are looking for a way out of the draft.

The EU Commission spokesperson on home affairs, Anitta Hipper, said that the bloc would meet to discuss the issuance of humanitarian visas to Russians fleeing mobilisation. The three Baltic states said on Thursday, however, that they are not prepared to automatically offer asylum to Russians fleeing the draft.

Even those without any military experience – men who Putin vowed not to call up – are packing their bags.

Russian police detaining a protester

They point to the ambiguity of Putin’s mobilisation law and point to previous broken promises that he would not call for one.

“Putin lied that there will be no mobilisation,” said 23-year-old Anton, a student in Moscow, referring to the president’s International Women’s Day address on 8 March, when he insisted that no reservists would be called up to fight in Ukraine. “Why would he not lie again about this partial mobilisation?”

Fears have grown after independent website Novaya Gazeta Europe reported, based on its government sources, that the mobilistation decrees allow the Ministry of Defence to call up 1,000,000 people, instead of the 300,000 announced by the country’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday.

For now, Lobanovskaya said, the majority of Russians leaving are men.

The Guardian also spoke to a number of women, mostly medics, who similarly decided to leave the country after reports started to trickle out that Russia was calling up health professionals to the front.

“I know medics are supposed to treat people, that is our duty,” said Tatayana, a doctor from Irkutsk, who bought a plane ticket to Baku for next week. “But I believe the sooner this horrible war stops, the fewer people will die.”

The mobilisation also appears to have spooked some of the very people on whom the regime relies to sustain its war efforts.

“For me, mobilisation is the red line,” said Ilya, 29, a mid-level official working for the Moscow government. “Tomorrow I will be in Kazakhstan.”

One man, the son of a west-sanctioned oligarch due to come back to Russia after his studies abroad to work for his family business, said he no longer planned to do so.

“Well, one thing is clear,” he said, in a brief interview by text message. “I won’t be coming back to Russia anytime soon.”

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IND vs SA, 1st T20I Live Cricket Score: India Opt to Field; Ashwin, Deepak Chahar Return to Playing XI – News18

as Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been rested from the series.

After thumping the Aussies 2-1, it’s time to square off against the Proteas once again at home. Team India faces South Africa in the first game of the 3-match series in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. The Men in Blue will be looking to round off their T20 World Cup preparation with a marked improvement in their death bowling besides providing crucial game time to its untested players.

Going forward, death bowling has been the biggest concern for Indian and captain Rohit Sharma singled it out as an area of concern. The hosts will be without two of their key bowlers, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who have been rested ahead of the ICC event next month.

Harshal Patel did not have the best of times in his comeback series against Australia but he will be expected to get back to his best in the final three games before the World Cup. His career economy rate stands at 9.05 but he conceded more than 12 runs per over against the Aussies.

Deepak Chahar, who is also on standby for the Word Cup, did not get a game in the previous series and he could get a chance if the team decides to rotate its pacers over the three games.

Arshdeep Singh will return to bolster the team’s resources in the slog overs, making an effective combination alongside Jasprit Bumrah, who will aim to regain his full rhythm after coming back from injury.

Over the next week, India will be competing against a team they are yet to beat at home in a bilateral series. South Africa and India will face each other in a group game in Australia and though conditions are totally different here, both teams can pick out areas to target in the coming three games.

All eyes will also be on the young Tristian Stubbs who has made the World Cup squad on the back of his good show in franchise cricket.

Get the latest Cricket News, Schedule and Cricket Live Scores here

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Anna Rosling Rönnlund promotes a positive worldview in Common Reading lecture – Today at Elon

Rönnlund, co-author of “Factfulness,” spoke to the Elon community on Sept. 27 for the 2022-23 Common Reading lecture.

Anna Rosling Rönnlund is someone who sees the glass half full. Rönnlund, her father-in-law, Hans Rosling, and her husband, Ola Rosling, are the co-authors of “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think,” which argues that the world isn’t as bad as it seems and the rest of us would benefit from having the same optimistic outlook.

Even in the four years following the publishing of the book, which has seen the COVID-19 global pandemic, social injustice unrest, the war in Ukraine and financial crises, Rönnlund says that the book is a more helpful read today as we should be inspired by the “global cooperation” shown during these times.

“We have seen that the world has actually become more complicated in some ways,” Rönnlund said in the Common Reading lecture to the Elon community on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

“In the end of ‘Factfulness,’ we do have a segment called the ‘Five Global Risks,’ where we actually talk about the first one being a global pandemic. So, I would say that we wrote the book trying to have people realize that much has happened that has been better than people believe but we should be aware of the big global risks … so that we’re not just afraid of things without getting the context right.”

“Factfulness” was selected as the university’s Common Reading for the 2022-23 academic year and is being read by more than 2,000 Elon community members. The Common Reading program has been at Elon since 1992 and helps reinforce the core values of the institution for first-year students. These students will use the book in coursework throughout their first year at Elon.

Anna Rosling Rönnlund (bottom) with Elon President Connie Ledoux Book (top left) and Assistant Director of First-Year Initiatives Paula Patch.

President Connie Ledoux Book referred to he hopeful messaging of “Factfulness” in both her Opening Day and New Student Convocation addresses to signal what she feels to be a hopeful upcoming year.

“In both of those settings, I was able to use ‘Factfulness’ in a way that I believe sets an inspiration and hopeful tone that the data teaches us about how change looks in the world and that we can, and are changing, the world for better as we engage with each other in science, discovery and learning,” said Book, who co-moderated the conversation. “I was very appreciative of being able to start the year with those observations.”

Co-moderator Paula Patch, assistant director of first-year initiatives of the Elon Core Curriculum, asked Rönnlund which of the 10 “instincts” or “rules of thumb” – the misconceptions hardwired into most people’s thinking – are the most significant. Rönnlund said the two that would do the most to change someone’s way of thinking are the gap instinct and the negativity instinct.

“When you realize the gap instinct, you realize that we as humans tend to focus on the extremes, the outliers, the poor, the rich, the good and the bad and so on. But very often, we should focus on everything that is in between, because between those outliers we usually have the majority. And to understand the world, we need to look at the majority,” Rönnlund said.

Rönnlund explained that with the negativity instinct, people tend to focus on negative things because those are circulated more often and worry us.

“But there is a risk that when we don’t look at the long-time trends, we miss that over time humanity has achieved so many cool things,” Rönnlund said. “We have been able to achieve progress even though we used to have much less education than we have now. So, imagine what we can do from here even though we have all these obstacles.”

Rönnlund is also a co-founder of Gapminder, an independent educational nonprofit that has the goal of “fighting global misconceptions.” Since its founding in 2005, the organization has developed several innovative data visualizations and encourages fact-based decision-making in an ever-changing world.

“Trying to foster in ourselves a way of actually double-checking information before making decisions is going to be key,” Rönnlund said. “The world is not static. We need to find a way throughout life to continue to learn.”

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17 dead in northeast China restaurant fire: Report – India Today

A fire at a restaurant in northeastern China on Wednesday killed 17 people and injured three, according to local authorities.

The blaze broke out at 12:40 pm in an eatery in the city of Changchun, the local government said in a statement posted on the Weibo social media platform.

Firefighters “rushed to the scene” and completed search and rescue work by 3 pm, the statement said.

READ | How strong is Xi Jinping’s position in today’s China?

“The injured have been sent to hospital for treatment while posthumous care for the victims is being carried out,” it added.

Authorities said the cause of the incident is under investigation.

Changchun is an auto manufacturing center and the capital of Jilin province.

— ENDS —

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