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Home World News Fleeing occupied Zaporizhzhia as forced conscription into Russian army looms

Fleeing occupied Zaporizhzhia as forced conscription into Russian army looms

by Gulliver CRAGG
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world news / Europe On the Ground

Issued on: 29/09/2022 – 09:44Modified: 29/09/2022 – 09:46

A line of cars is seen here in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. Fearful of being drafted by the Russians, Ukrainians are fleeing from areas controlled by Moscow’s forces. © France 24 screengrab Men in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region are fleeing to avoid forced conscription into Moscow’s army. The exodus follows what Western powers have called “sham” referendums, staged by Russia, that seek to legitimize the eventual annexation of territories under Russian control. 

“They’re already drafting 18- to 35-year-olds over there,” a man with gray hair said in front of a line of cars near a Ukrainian army checkpoint. “They don’t ask whether you want to or not. They force you to sign up.”

The men are travelling as internally displaced people (IDP) to Zaporizhzhia city, located in the northern third of the region and under Ukrainian control.

“I’m 50, Valery is 59. Today they’re only drafting those under 35. But tomorrow it’ll be 50,” a man with brown hair said. “They’ll push everyone into this war. But we are not going to fight against Ukraine, we’re patriots.” 

Oleg Buryak heads Zaporizhzhia city’s military administration. Visiting buildings that have been shelled has become part of his daily routine.

“We’ve never had as much daily shelling as now,” he said. “Why are they intimidating us? For us it’s clear: Their referendum means nothing, whatever result they present it has absolutely no significance; it’s purely for the internal Russian audience.”

Click on the player above to watch the full report.

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