Russians Are Fleeing Putin’s Draft. But in Georgia, Few Are Happy About a Fresh Influx

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09/29/2022

It’s not hard to understand why Nikolai Shushpan, who is gay, made the decision to become one of the thousands of Russians to flee to Georgia after President Vladimir Putin announced a draft last week. “I’m more scared of being killed by my own army than the Ukrainian one,” he says, referring to Russia’s increasingly anti-LGBT turn, after TIME catches up with him on Wednesday via Telegram. Following Putin’s announcement on Sept. 21, a line stretching thousands of cars has emerged trying to cross the only border checkpoint between Russia and Georgia at Verkniy Lars—long enough to be seen from space. Amid the desperation, chaos reigns. “I never expected one day I would be in a situation like this. It was like an apocalyptic movie,” Nikolai recalls.

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