26 September 2022
by Aleksandr Podrabinek
Poland, Finland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have no intention of letting in Russians evading mobilization. This is a great gift to the Kremlin from our Eastern European neighbors and personally to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who a few days ago announced mobilization in Russia.
Indeed, why should they let in refugees? They can just go home, walk into their enlistment offices, and go fight against Ukraine. The governments of these puzzling countries think that this way they’re strengthening their own states’ security. Why take in Russian refugees? Isn’t it better to have a numerous and battle-ready Russian army on their borders? An astounding strategy!
To say nothing of the humanitarian side of the matter. In general, fleeing is a sad phenomenon and, from the standpoint of public virtue, dubious. Of course, it would be preferable for the citizens of unfortunate countries to resolve their problems in their own country and not seek their fortune abroad. That would be better for everyone, except for those citizens themselves, possibly. Since most often they are risking their freedom and life. Who is going to throw stones at them for valuing life and not wanting to go to prison? Who is prepared to condemn Russian refugees who don’t want to fight against Ukraine but also don’t agree to go to the torture chambers that are Russian prisons and prison camps?
The representatives of the countries that have closed their doors to Russian draft dodgers and deserters should state openly and directly: “We don’t want to let you in, go to your army or prison, we don’t care.”
This is more or less, although more ornately, how Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský put it when he stated that Russians evading mobilization will not get Czech humanitarian visas. “Those who are fleeing their country because they don’t want to fulfill the obligation placed on them by their own state do not meet the conditions for issuing a humanitarian visa,” Lipavský explained.
Standing in contrast on the backdrop of this Eastern European indifference is the position of Charles Michel, president of the European Council, the highest political body in the European Union. In the corridors of a UN General Assembly session, Michel commented to Politico on his vision of the situation with the Russians fleeing mobilization. He said that the European Union should show “openness to those who don’t want to be instrumentalized by the Kremlin.”
Official Berlin announced that evading mobilization is a convincing reason for requesting political asylum in Germany.
European humanitarian values are probably more thoroughly rooted in the western portion of the continent than the eastern. Although it would be more logical to expect solidarity with the victims of dictatorship from Eastern Europe, which experienced the Soviet yoke for decades, even if those victims are not offering direct resistance but rather voting with their feet.
An example of this kind of solidarity is being demonstrated by Mongolia, which for a long time was a barrack of the socialist camp. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, a former president of that country, gave a video address in which he called on Russia not to fight against Ukraine and invited Buryats, Tuvans, Yakuts, Kalmyks, and representatives of other peoples ethnically close to the Mongols fleeing mobilization to come to Mongolia: “We Mongols will greet you with open arms and an open heart.”
Uralsk, which is located in West Kazakhstan, about 50 kilometers from the Russian border, is now seeing a flood of refugees from Russia, as a result of which there is no available housing in the city and rents have increased multifold. The management of the city’s Cinema Park announced that people coming from Russia who have no housing can spend the night in one of their screening rooms. The cinema’s director explained: “We see many people on the city’s streets who have come from the Russian Federation and are searching for lodging. Come to us, we understand everything.”
As one popular Soviet film had it: “Happiness is when people understand you.”
Translated by Marian Schwartz