Russia A young man films his escape from the country

Russia: A young man films his escape from the country to avoid being sent to the front

Since Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization, thousands of young Russians have been trying to leave Russia and flee to neighboring countries, despite numerous obstacles.

A country under pressure. Since Vladimir Putin’s speech last September, in which the Russian President announced the partial mobilization of 300,000 troops to reinforce the contingent already in Ukraine, a whole section of Russian society has been threatened with more or less voluntary recruitment.

Among the most recalcitrant, the most mobilizable young adults, who became fully involved in this previously abstract, distant conflict that the Kremlin still confines to calling a “military special operation.”

“How will we be able to cross this border?”

Since these announcements, tens of thousands of young Russians have gathered on the borders with Finland, Kazakhstan or Georgia to escape the front. Among them Nikita, a filmmaker who has never owned a gun in his life and refuses to go to Ukraine and fight. For our long format Red Line, Russia, the deserters, which will air this Monday on BFMTV, the young deserter has agreed to film his escape attempt.

The first images of this exclusive report show the young man, accompanied by friends, as he learns of Finland’s decision last week to drastically reduce the arrival of Russian citizens on its territory. “Here is the latest news. I just got home, I was with friends, everyone is shocked,” he said, still believing he could reach Scandinavian territory.

“The EU has to be lenient and say: ‘People don’t close the border.’ Shit, but how are we supposed to cross that border?” he complains.

This Saturday, Finnish border guards announced that the number of Russian citizens entering Finland has dropped dramatically since the restriction, from 5,200 on Thursday to just under 1,700 on Friday evening.

“What a bastard, what an asshole”

Despite these obstacles, Nikita will try to move to Finland. For BFMTV, the young man immortalizes his last moments with his wife, whom he has to leave indefinitely. “I think I won’t take this baby coat, but the black one. It’s too bulky, it won’t be practical,” he said to his partner, as if he were just traveling.

“What a bastard, what an asshole, how could we let him do that. It’s really a crazy thing, a crazy thing,” he suddenly explodes against Vladimir Putin as the exit becomes ever clearer.

After a heartbreaking farewell, Nikita shares his first impressions as he heads north. “My suitcase is ready, I’m going. Tomorrow I will try to cross the border between Russia and Finland. All that remains is to do it. I left my wife and dog. It’s very painful, very painful,” he explains again.

A society on the brink of explosion

In the last few days, the pressure on potential deserters has been increasing. Vladimir Putin personally signed a decree that tightened the sanctions in the event of desertion and henceforth exposed the perpetrators to imprisonment for up to ten years. The Russian authorities have also announced that they will no longer issue passports to those who have been mobilized.

However, these coercive measures do not seem to calm the growing discontent on Russian territory. Within a few days, the mobilization offices registered several incidents in which a soldier was seriously injured. A young man also set himself on fire to avoid being drafted into the Russian army.

In addition, several countries have decided not to take any action against deserters entering their territory. For example, neighboring Kazakhstan, where 98,000 Russians have already fled, assured that the latter would not be deported to Moscow. Further west, some countries like Germany have already indicated their willingness to accept Russian nationals leaving their country.