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Refusing to fight in Ukraine, Russians flee the country, longing for their country.

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Young Russians who fled their country to neighboring Kazakhstan to avoid being drafted to fight in Ukraine all want to go home one day. They just don’t know when that will happen.

“I’m very sorry, because I actually love Russia,” the 25-year-old Muscovite told NBC News in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, where the Russians avoid conscription. “Maybe I’ll stay here for two or three months. I don’t know.”

Like other cautious exiles NBC News spoke of, the young Muscovite asked not to be named, fearing the consequences of disobeying President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration order.

The young man, who was a juggler and street performer before he left three weeks ago, said that he misses Mother Russia already.

“I can’t tell you anything about my future, because I only see two weeks from now, two weeks from now,” he interrupted in English.

Putin’s denunciation of military mobilization last month to support his forces in Ukraine led to a migration of military-aged men not only to Kazakhstan, but also to Mongolia and Georgia. On Wednesday, Putin announced that he will declare martial law in four regions in Ukraine, which Russia illegally annexed last month, as it struggles to maintain its dominance over the territory amid advances in Ukraine.

When asked what drove him into exile, the Muscovite said: “First of all, because of this conscription thing that is now in Russia. But mostly because he’s starting to get alarmingly worried in Russia. … It is very difficult to be creative.”

So the choice came as “always be anxious or leave”.

Muscovites said he participated in protests against military action, but many of his compatriots still support the conflict in Ukraine.

Another man, wishing to be identified as Dmitry, arrived in Almaty with all his belongings packed into a giant backpack.

“I don’t want to be a part of it,” he said. He said his family “wanted me to go”.

Dmitry said he had hitchhiked most of the world and learned that “you don’t need a lot of money if you talk to people.”

But he would never leave Russia for good. And he thinks that the “critical situation” Russia is currently in will end soon, although he refuses to speculate on what might happen.

“I think I’ll go home in two months or three months,” he said.

Putin promised his people that the draft would soon be over when the army recruits 300,000 more. Russia’s remaining independent pollster said support for Putin was strong, but partial mobilization affected public support.

“More than half of the population feels concerned about this,” said the Levada-Center pollster. Their primary concern, she said, was “to be able to enlist their husbands and sons into the military.”

Psychologist Nikita Rakhimov, who founded a conscription-escaped Telegram site for the growing Russian community, said there is no guarantee that those who left will return with open arms.

Sipping coffee in Almaty park, Rakhimov said many of those who left were branded as “traitors to Russia” by their loved ones.

He said the controversy over the conflict tore many Russian families apart, and younger members were more likely to oppose military action in Ukraine, and their parents remained loyal to Putin.

“What is this [they] hear from their families,” Rakhimov said. “A lot of people love Putin”

He also said it broke marriages, and recalled a Russian who fled his country after being caught between his Ukrainian wife, who demanded that he “hate all Russians,” and his parents, who called him a traitor for not supporting the conflict. .

“His mind will explode,” he said.

Some of those who left said they planned to stay in Kazakhstan, while others said they saw the country as a “trampoline” to another place in Europe. But most don’t think about it for more than two or three weeks, he said.

“They don’t know what to do,” Rakhimov said. They want to go back to Russia, but of course they can’t do that right now.”

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