Checkpoint "Upper Lars" is located on the border of Russia and Georgia. This is the only land crossing through which you can legally get into these countries from each other, all other ways are either illegal, or it is supposed to make a rather long detour through Azerbaijan.
On Friday, September 23, a record queue of cars formed at the Russian-Georgian border since the beginning of the year.
According to the data Federal Customs Service (FCS), as of 06:00 on September 23, a queue of 1,715 cars lined up in front of the Upper Lars checkpoint. It is noted that these are the maximum values since the beginning of the year.
The fact that there is a real collapse at the border was also made clear by the author of NI, who decided to go to the neighboring state himself.
For a day of waiting time to talk with people leaving Russia, it was more than enough. But the story of a 40-year-old man with a military bearing, with whom our author reached Tbilisi, seemed interesting.
As it turned out, Aleksey M. is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Of the skills honed during the 15-year service on September 21, the most useful were: picking up a duffel bag for speed and the habit of keeping all documents in good condition in one closet corner, as well as doing everything listed on a cold head, with a complete zero on the scale of emotions.
He was going in an emergency mode, because Alexei knew for sure that he would be called up in the first place. Reserve officer of the armed forces of the 1st category, with an engineering and technical profile, with the formation of a university with a military department and ideal health category "A". Military registration specialty - "Technical support for the functioning of stationary automated control systems." In other words, a highly demanded frame at the front.
As soon as he googled the codes from the military ID, all questions and doubts disappeared, if you don’t want to join the army, it’s time to leave. Four hours after the speech by the president and the secretary of defense, he packed a backpack with three days of dry rations, warm clothes and all the documents he acquired during his lifetime, including a birth certificate and school certificate, education diplomas and vaccination certificates.
On an emergency basis, Alexei ran to the notary and issued the necessary powers of attorney for his wife to manage real estate, submit representative applications to the military commissariat. Then he opened the Mir card, which is still accepted in neighboring countries. Well, then the search began for people with the superpower to cross any borders of any countries (including closed ones) - and most importantly, without bribes.
In this case, as our interlocutor says, the main thing is to trust, to follow quickly and unquestioningly.
"Explorer" compiled a route to the Georgian border with transit through the capital of Chechnya. The whole trip: the Moscow-Grozny plane + the Grozny-Tbilisi taxi cost a ridiculous five thousand rubles and a few kopecks, while direct flights to the near abroad on this and subsequent days already cost hundreds of thousands of rubles.
90% of passengers on an airplane flight turned out to be male passengers with a similar outlook on life, just like fellow travelers in a car queue to the border. From Grozny to the Russian-Georgian border in Upper Lars, Alexei was taken out by a taxi driver, part-time ambulance doctor with a Chechen name. He says that the Upper Lars telegram chat helped them a lot, where they published up-to-date information about passing the checkpoint every second.
As they wrote in the news, after the announcement of the mobilization, 30,000 new users immediately joined the chat. At the time of crossing, the queue at the border was already 10 kilometers long, and its passage time was estimated at 20-24 hours. A day later, the number of people wishing to enter Georgia from Russia physically looked like 35 kilometers of a car queue, and the border crossing time was estimated at two days or more.
Therefore, the border crossing plan has changed.
Alexey released the taxi driver and decided to walk ten kilometers to the checkpoint. At the very entrance to the checkpoint, as was reported in the chats, Russian drivers of minibuses and buses earn. Buses park on the side of the road at the head of the line, wait until the salons are packed to capacity, with the help of hell and under the curse of honestly waiting motorists, they brazenly wedged into the general line and get to the checkpoint before the rest.
Prices for a VIP bus crossing start from 7 thousand rubles. For 10-30 thousand rubles, fellow travelers and ordinary mortal motorists who have empty seats are seated. The closer to the checkpoint, the, of course, these places are more expensive.
Many also use the second lives to speed up border crossing. It is a very epic spectacle. Since the passage in Upper Lars is allowed exclusively by vehicles, men in the cities of the landing of the plane - Vladikavkaz, Nazran, Grozny buy decrepit bicycles, scooters from their hands, and bypassing the car crowd, drive to the border on these wrecked ones. A few days ago, the passage of the border on a unicycle was also recorded.
It is known that after the announcement of mobilization on the Russian-Georgian border, in addition to the main passport control, additional measures were introduced: questioning and interrogation. This, at least twenty times, lengthens the waiting time in line. Mandatory questions for men were:
- Place of service
- The presence of a military department at the university
- Family status
- Purpose of the trip
- Duration of the trip
- Do you know about mobilization
- Place of work
- Was the summons served?
In addition, "tourists" are selectively asked to enter passwords on their phones and view the contents of the gadget, and also check by IMEI whether the phone is stolen. According to some information, interrogations were introduced not at all to catch "deserters", but for numbers and reporting, measuring "mascara-light" level.
However, despite all the innovations, the percentage of denied entry for Russian men is negligible to this day, even in the case of obvious potential mobilizants.
A lieutenant colonel, who looked about fifty, fell on Alexei, tired in the evening. Most of the interrogation was spent in a sleepy mood, the border officer woke up only on the answers about his service in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As an officer, the officer had to give a mini-consultation about career opportunities in a "competing agency". After receiving valuable information, the person conducting the interrogation even slightly pretended to believe in the vacation version. That's all. The cherished red stamp in the passport about crossing the border is affixed.
Further - the neutral zone and the Georgian border guards, who, in turn, stamped their stamps in seconds and "Welcome to Georgia".
When leaving the checkpoint, Georgian mountain landscapes of unprecedented beauty became the reward for a day of stress. Another three hours of patience on the way along a difficult, broken serpentine, in some places one-lane due to the second lane that fell into the gorge, and our hero ended up in the capital Tbilisi.
Here he was waiting for a booking hotel booked for the first three days with obligatory Georgian hospitality, and then - complete uncertainty ...
After the end of his service in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as Aleksey says, he retrained as a civilian IT specialist (banking). According to the work contract, he cannot leave Moscow. But the slippery issue has so far been "resolved" by installing a Russian vpn on the working computer system. It looks like you're at home.
Immediate plans: eat, cure a cold that worsened due to stress, buy a local SIM card, exchange currency, get a local banking product (account, cards), find housing. Return to Russia in the next six months is not considered under any circumstances.
According to Aleksey's stories, there are already proportionally as many Russians in Tbilisi as there are Georgians. Mostly men came alone, rarely with their families. The new arrivals are mostly the "brains" and intellectuals of Russia - highly qualified specialists from various fields, wealthy, with their families, as a rule, working remotely or mixed - office + remote work, with experience in traveling abroad.
The employer met almost all the fugitives and approved this forced relocation.
There are, of course, special contingents among the refugees. He drinks and yells at night in residential areas of Tbilisi. For many new arrivals, Georgia is now seen only as a hub. Further, Russian men, according to them, are going to Turkey, Thailand, India, Indonesia, etc.
The question of what will happen to people in a year or five years is not discussed. Life has taken a sharp turn into the unknown...