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Alleged Russian Draft Dodgers Flee Moscow

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Russian military conscripts line up at a conscription point in Moscow. | Image by Mikhail Metzel, AP

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Apparently, as of late, Moscow’s restaurants, stores, and social events have fewer men.

Many Russian men have departed to go to war in Ukraine. Others have allegedly fled the draft.

“All of the most reasonable guys are gone,” said technology saleswoman Tatiana, 36, as she and her friends watched pool at a club on Moscow’s Stoleshnikov Lane, one of the most expensive shopping areas in the world. “Half the dating pool is gone.”

Reportedly, downloads of dating apps have skyrocketed in the countries where Russian men have fled in recent months.

The rate of new downloads in Georgia and Turkey exceeded 110%. In Kazakhstan, it increased by 32 percent, according to the New York Times (NYT).

The number of new registrations on one dating app, Mamba, increased by 135% in Armenia.

A woman, Olya, spoke to the NYT about the draft. She claimed President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to mobilize hundreds of thousands of men for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine had cut her barbershop customers by half.

Fearing a draft notice, many men have stayed indoors, she said. Last Friday, Olya saw police checking documents at each metro station exit, and her boyfriend, a salon barber, left, too.

“Every day is difficult,” Olya said, “I’m lost. “We planned everything.”

Some men fled the war because the invasion of Ukraine repulsed them. Others who opposed the Kremlin fled because they feared imprisonment or oppression, the NTY reports.

However, most of the men who fled in recent weeks were reportedly called up for military service, wanted to avoid the draft, or were worried that Russia would close its borders if Mr. Putin declared martial law.

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for the Kremlin, said Russia had no plans to close its borders following the introduction of martial law in the annexed territories, Meduza reported.

Earlier, President Vladimir Putin signed an order declaring martial law in the four regions recently annexed by Russia: the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Since Putin’s partial mobilization, nobody knows how many men left, and about 66,600 men died, according to statistics from the Ukraine ministry of defense posted on UAWAR.

On Friday, Putin announced at least 220,000 draftees.

About 200,000 men entered Kazakhstan, where Russians can enter without a passport, according to Kazakhstani authorities.

Thousands have reportedly fled to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Argentina, and Western Europe.

Moscow’s mayor ended mobilization on October 17, but many local businesses were already struggling.

Aleksei Ermilov told the NYT the 70 barbershops in his franchise were most affected by the shortage of customers in Moscow — a city of 12 million — and St. Petersburg, whose population exceeds five million.

“We can see the massive relocation wave more in Moscow and St. Petersburg than in other cities, partially because more people have the means to leave there,” Ermilov told the NYT.     

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