Russians drag suitcases across border to escape Putin's mobilisation order

Russian families are fleeing to Georgia to escape the draft amid mounting fears that one million men will be sent to fight in Ukraine.

Men, women and children have been seen dragging suitcases in poor weather conditions beside cars heading towards the Georgian side of the Verkhni Lars customs checkpoint.

It comes as opposition to Vladimir Putin’s war continues to grow with mass protests breaking out across the country.

Riot police have arrested more than 2,000 anti-war demonstrators this week after the Russian president ordered the mobilisation of 300,000 reservist troops.

The dictator is becoming increasingly erratic as the country suffers humiliating defeats at the hands of the Ukrainian army, which launched a series of concentrated counter-offensives.

Hundreds of settlements and Russian strongholds have been liberated over the past month, including a small village of 830 people which could play a strategic part in the war.

Putin’s allies are reportedly now beginning to blame the regime for the failed invasion and for the mass exodus.

Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of Putin’s puppet parliament, said the police’s use of force on protestors was ‘absolutely unacceptable’.

She said: ‘I consider it absolutely right that they are triggering a sharp reaction in society.’

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Valeriy Fadeev, the Kremlin’s human rights ombudsman, even expressed concern that 70 fathers of large families and nurses without military skills were drafted.

There have also been reports of Russian officers trying to conscript a man who died in 2020, after turning up at his house with mobilisation orders.

In the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala, one of the country’s poorest regions, women have been seen shouting ‘no to war’ in a large protest as riot police fired warning shots into the air.

OVD-Info group, an independent Russian human rights monitor, said it was concerned over reports of ‘very tough’ detentions in the region.

Police have also been seen dragging away women protesting in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, with some heard chanting ‘no to genocide’, and ‘let our children be free’.

Just under 50 miles east in the town of Tara, Russians have been pictured tearfully saying goodbye to their loved ones who have been conscripted.

Meanwhile, western Europe are debating whether to offer sanctuary to those fleeing conscription.

Senators in France have argued Europe has a duty to help and not doing so would feed into Putin’s narrative of the bloc.

A group of more than 40 senators said: ‘Closing out frontiers would fit neither with our values nor our interests.’

However, other state officials are far more reluctant to let Russians through their borders.

Latvian foreign minister Edgard Rinkevics tweeted: ‘They were fine with killing Ukrainians, they did not protest then.’

He also said they cannot be considered conscientious objectors as they did not act when Russia invaded Ukraine.

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