One-way flights out of Russia were selling out fast on Wednesday despite sky-rocketing prices after President Vladimir Putin announced the immediate mobilisation to call up 300,000 reservists for his unjust war in Ukraine.
Putin’s televised pre-recorded appeal raised fears that men of fighting age would soon not be allowed to leave the country.
Even before the announcement, rumors of a possible call-up had spurred many Russians for months, and parents of draft-age young men have been scrambling to get their children out of Russia.
Direct flight tickets to UAE, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Serbia, Georgia, Kazakhstan – countries with visa-free or simple visa process for Russian citizens – sold out within hours for next 2-3 weeks and multiple social media posts showed tickets bought for over $10,000 – in some cases at a 20-40-fold premium. Regular prices were usually $150 to $400 range.
Typical one-way fares to Turkey, one of the most favourite destination for Russian tourists, were $340 up until the panic buying started yesterday, Google Flights data shows.
“Where to go from Russia”, “How to leave Russia” and “visa-free countries for Russians” were among the top searches, according to media reports.
Thousands of people have been arrested at demonstrations across Russia against the mobilisation. The OVD-Info monitoring group counted at least 1,332 people detained at rallies in 38 different cities across the country on 21 September.
The Interfax news agency quoted the Russian interior ministry as saying it had quashed attempts to “organise unauthorised gatherings”.
All the demonstrations were stopped and those who committed “violations” were arrested and led away by police pending an investigation and prosecution, it added.