Mar 4, 2022 - World

Fear of martial law sparks Russian exodus

Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting yesterday at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.
Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting Thursday at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. Photo: Andrei Gorshkov/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Thousands of Russians are rushing to flee the country ahead of this weekend, as rumors swirl that Vladimir Putin could soon declare martial law, close the borders and crack down even harder on domestic dissent.

Why it matters: For as devastating as the humanitarian situation in Ukraine has become, widespread suffering is rapidly arriving at Russia's own doorstep.

More than 8,000 people have already been detained at anti-war protests since Feb. 24, according to the independent monitor OVD-Info.

  • Russia's Duma has passed a law making the spread of "fake news" about the Russian military punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • The last pillars of Russia's already-limited independent press were forced to close under pressure from the Kremlin this week.
  • Russia's state communications watchdog blocked the websites of the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Deutsche Welle and other foreign media outlets for spreading "fake" information.

What to watch: Russia's second-largest airline announced it will cease all international flights from tomorrow, as Russia's upper house of parliament meets for an emergency session that many fear could mark the descent of a new Iron Curtain.

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